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Opinion: Gender Equality In Online Games

Opinion: Gender Equality In Online Games


The recent news of an underage hacker being imprisoned for terrorising several women has sparked a lot of things in my mind. Of course, online terrorism is bad, and you have to sincerely wonder how someone could be so amoral as to ruin the life of a perfect stranger over nothing. imagesBut the real thing that annoys me is that it was women he seemed to be targeting, and that strikes home a bit closer than I’d like it to. I mean, I’ve never experienced anything this bad myself, but that isn’t to say there are some serious horror stories out there.
I know people will say things like “Stop making a big deal out of the fact you’re a female gamer!”, but it’s hard to forget that fact and move on when I’m literally reminded of why I don’t divulge my gender online, every time I go online. In an ideal world, yes, we would all just play together and there wouldn’t be any issue, but sadly we don’t live in that world. While the majority of people will agree that not only is there no real difference between genders in gaming, and the gaming community is coming through leaps and bounds when it comes to getting more women into the folds as both consumers and developers, there are always those incredibly vocal few that make you wish you’d never typed a single letter in a chat.
One of my horror stories comes from a game of League of Legends wherein I was playing with someone who, to say the least, was not nice.yes-yesitits_d87c27_4777798 If you died in this game, not only would this player (hereby to be named Bobo) wish cancer upon you for the slightest of mistakes, he’d do so to a point where he wasn’t even playing the game any more because he was too busy typing. At some point during one of his tirades where I had died, my friend who was playing with me stepped in and said something along the lines of “Stop flaming her.” That one word ‘her’ had been enough to make Bobo pause and ask “Wait, you’re a girl?”
I said yes, like a fool, and immediately I was being praised for things that really were not impressive, and being asked repeatedly for my Facebook details. Keep in mind, I had said nothing nice to Bobo, there was literally no reason for him to turn around from wishing cancer upon me other than the fact I had different squishy bits. After the game, and about 5 more attempts from Bobo to get my Facebook, I left the lobby with a friend request. I denied it, got another one, denied that, got another one and this kept going for at least another hour until I logged off for the night and arrived back the next morning to receive about 5 more. Trust me, this is a tame story compared to a lot of similar encounters I’ve heard about from friends, but I can’t help but think that, had Bobo been as crazed as the recently charged Canadian teen, I would have had a lot more than an annoying friend request to get rid of. And it all would have been 100% down to my gender. 
It scares me that in some people’s warped minds this is deemed appropriate behaviour. I mean, you could blame it on being young and dumb as it were, but even then, when you were sixteen, how many of you walked up to the first girl you saw and, upon realising that what you were talking to was a genuine female, immediately asked for tit pics? This is behaviour that rarely manifests itself in the real world, but is widely accepted online via “Tits or gtfo!” Worse still is that if I’m not being asked for tits, I’m being shamed for not showing off the supreme skills only held by pro players, or mythical unicorn gamer girls. There’s no room to just be mediocre at a game, because if you’re not killing the enemy 6 ways from Sunday, then you clearly know nothing about what you’re doing and you’re just looking for attention. Trust me, the last thing I want in a game of League is attention. I play AD Carry, my dream is to go completely unnoticed while I kick the crap out of the enemy nexus!
So to sum things up, you can tell me all you’d like that there’s no difference whether you’re a male or female in gaming. But unless you’ve rejected 20 friend requests in a night and been asked for private pictures, you really don’t have grounds to argue that all things online are equal.
I have to wonder if these harassment cases have happened to all male victims, or if this guy targeted me specifically because of my gender, and if he did then why? Was it simply because he was scorned by someone, or did he, like some in the online community, simply think he was entitled to harass women because of the hobby they chose?
For the sake of not only my gender and the next generation of gaming, I sincerely hope it wasn’t the latter.