At one time it was easy to say that gaming was/is considered a man’s world but it is gradually getting harder and harder to distinguish what is and what isn’t anymore, not only in gaming but in other aspects of life. The stereotypical gamer is usually portrayed as a nerd amongst nerds with a fear of sunlight and an incapability to function in regular social scenerios that do not involve consoles of any sort but when you look at the world of gaming and I mean really look at it there is so much more to it than the easy stereotype and more importantly there are a lot more female gamers than you could imagine. As society has changed so too has gaming!
The thing with female gamers that I notice ( speaking from experience) is that when you see guys talking about the latest dungeon raid they went on or how they failed to kill a boss with all the members on their team down and out. You can practically feel the air around them get charged with excitement and there is nothing worse than sitting there and wishing you can get in on that conversation because of you know of the perfect way to defeat him!
However you know that you’re guaranteed to get one of three reactions at – you’ll be blasted with questions more intense than a police room interview because could you possibly know, you’ll be manhandled by a dozen pairs of eyes or you’ll just be ignored to the point they make you feel like you’re not there and worse not wanted.
I have experienced all these types of reaction and I’ve tried to not let it effect me because I know that the world of gaming has never been a man’s world and never will be.
Okay statistically speaking men and boys are the majority when it comes to gaming but those statics are changing and changing fast. I know plenty of female gamers, I hang out with them regularly and we share the same experiences as our male counterparts be it frustration at a stupidly difficult puzzle or that sense of accomplishment in conquering the final boss. It would also be a fair point to say that a lot of games are marketed mainly to men but that does not mean that I as a woman don’t enjoy killing aliens and wandering around New Mombasa any less than them.
Gaming in my opinion is anyone’s world, gaming is a form of escapism that a lot of people take seriously. When I start playing a game if it has the facilities to let me create a character who I can customise to my hearts desire, she will always look like me. Short, African and Female, every single character that I have ever made is female, even alien species because I am not ashamed to be a girl and play games, though there was a point in my life I feared getting my girl card taken from me by saying I’d rather play Dead or Alive than watch a chick flick. I have invested should be study hours and would be sleep hours because I was so absorbed in my little world that nothing was more important than reaching the next check point and mourned over the death of a companion so much I took a month long break from playing Skyrim but its not all rainbows and butterflies.
I have had my fair share of harassment and I’m not only the gamer, male or female. Every single game that you can play online has it’s fair share of trolls and a few of these are made of misogynistic idiots who think girls should be in the kitchen making them a sandwich or some other ridiculously overrated and overstated meme. I have been called a lot of things but one of the worst had to be “***** with a controller.”
Let me tell you a little story, I have really gotten into playing Assassins Creed III, especially the multiplayer. When I first played it I didn’t use my headset or anything but I could hear what was being said by the other players. After playing about six or so rounds I was nicely seated at a cosy 2nd on the table. Throughout my hour of playing I could hear random who snippets of conversation ‘Who is that player?’ ‘Why are they always a female character”… So the next time I played I used my microphone just to gauge what their reaction would be. I stayed quiet throughout most of the game until the last round and when I came 2nd again I was quite happy so of course I made quite a few happy cheers and the next thing I hear from any other player was “ …Number 2 is a chick…” quickly followed by “ and she’s black too.”
Of course I didn’t think anything of it as I was still basking in my victory at claiming 2nd again but then things started kicking off and words were being thrown at me from left, right and centre. The majority of players were fine but two took things too far, one felt constant berating me for being a ‘girl’ was a great way to get my attention while I got an almost immediate friend request and a message asking me for a picture from the other one.
The first emotion I experienced was pure unadultered rage. Honestly, just because I’m a girl does not mean that I am willing to degrade myself just to find acceptance in the gaming community. I am human, I play games that should be all that matters when you are gaming but the fact that my gender could cause reactions from both extremes of the spectrum filled me with so much anger I was tempted to cut them down a few notches but in the end I didn’t I calmed down after being made to feel like a piece of meat and dirt . I did not reply, I couldn’t bring myself to because everytime I thought of a response I felt like I was giving in to what they expected of me.
As for the fact that my race was so important I couldn’t fathom why it was such an important bit of info because it didn’t matter before, so why did it matter now. Needless to say I do not tolerate any insults from any one so I simply rubbed it in that yes I am a girl, yes I am black but I am not the only female gamer out there who knows what they are doing and I probably won’t be the only girl to beat them.
My race has never been a problem before with more nerd inclined things, my love of cosplay for example came from nowhere. I have never gotten any negativity towards me when I cosplay. In fact I have been given props and get complimented every time I do and so far I have only cosplayed out of my gender once. My first cosplay ever was Storm from x-men. But the strange thing was how great people though it was that I was a comic book fan. It wasn’t a negative experience but people were shocked that a black girl loved anime, comics and gaming. Yes there aren’t many black girls in the irish gaming or convention community but as one I have never experienced any sort of prejudice because of the colour of my skin. Cosplaying like gaming can be a form of escapism but why are the two groups so different in regards to accepting people as they are? It really baffles me.
The truth in life and in gaming as a result is that people only see what they want to see.
If they don’t want to acknowledge the fact that female gamers exist, if they don’t think women can be just as competitive or if they don’t think we deserve a place in ‘their’ world well they are far too late. Female gamers are here and are here to stay and it’s time this group decided to stop beating their chests and screaming abuse through headsets.
Gaming is not a man’s world! You can’t own this!
It’s too big, grown too far and has become something more than a world on a disc. It’s our world and everyone has a right to be there!