The Male Female Gamer
Like many others, I play games to have fun, relax, and de-stress from the day. Most nights, I can chat with people, kill some bad guys, have a few laughs, and call it a day. Yet every now and then, real life sneaks in and ruins that. Like when someone asks about your gender and refuses to accept that you won’t answer personal questions.
One of the major tenets of the Internet is anonymity. This is especially true in gaming, where your skill at the game should matter more than your personal life. You are whatever age, race, gender, etc. you say you are, and in most cases, nobody can prove otherwise.
Yet anonymity reinforces the use of stereotypes. With sparse details about a person, we feel the need to fill in the blanks and fabricate a persona for them. We create a first impression based on less information than we get from in-person encounters, and what’s easier to fall back on than stereotypes? Stereotypes, no matter how detrimental, are based on truth. That’s why they continue to persist with such strength.
So what happens when one of those tiny pieces of information is “female gamer”? The reaction depends on the context and audience, but they boil down into four main responses:
Immediate response: sexist jokes.
“There are no women on the Internet.” “A GIRL is just a Guy In Real Life.” “Get back in the kitchen.” “Make me a sandwich.” “Go back to your dolls, gaming is for boys.” “Sure you’re a girl, you just want attention.” I have heard all of these, several times.
Subsequent response: gifts.
A fair portion of the male gaming population seems to think showering a girl with gifts will make her fawn over him. These gifts aren’t really gifts. If you accept them, the giver thinks he owns you, and you owe him. If you don’t give him what he wants (IE an Internet girlfriend), you’re the gold-digging attention whore who took advantage of the poor kid. Declining can be just as bad.
Subconscious response: altered expectations.
Women gamers are assumed to be bad, so any slight mistake we make is judged far harsher and held up as evidence than women shouldn’t game. We’re expected to fail, and as such, endure patronizing remarks and the heroes who want to “protect” us. Even if they mean well, it hurts when people assume you can’t play as well, or need extra help, based solely on your gender.
Then you have the wonderful people who do nothing. They realize how gender means next to nothing in a game. They don’t treat you like a special unicorn, they don’t hurl slurs and sexist remarks your way. They treat you like another human being. I love these people. Unfortunately, their voices are the ones rarely heard.
I’m a female gamer and proud of it. Until recently, I’ve never had reservations about correcting people regarding my gender. Now, though, I’m tired of the harassment, the different treatment, and people not taking me seriously because of my gender.
It’s worse than before, too. Saying *she when someone calls you he isn’t a simple “btw, that’s the wrong pronoun for me” anymore. Instead, people see it as a cry for attention. A “look at me I’m special!!!” and will start a flame war, with you at the heart of it.
I don’t want to deal with that, not when I’m in a game to have fun and relax. People can go ahead assume I’m male; it’s not like they have any physical cues to indicate otherwise. In fact, I prefer they do, that way I won’t have to deal with the attention (both positive and negative) being a female gamer garners.
Online, you are whoever you want to be. Age, race, gender, etc. should not determine how people treat you. Instead, everyone should treat others with the respect and dignity they would any other human being, regardless of which gender they claim to be. After all, the Internet is the easiest place to lie.
Leave the gender issues out of my games. I’m just here to kill stuff.
I won’t answer your personal questions, and if you have a problem with it, don’t talk to me.
Posted on September 20, 2012, in Fun and Games, Real Life and tagged Feminism, Gaming, Gender issues, Guild Wars 2, I'm the type of person who starts conversations in PUGs, MMORPG. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.