It was late on a Monday night and my shift at the electronics store had just ended. There was a line of about twenty men all bundled up against the January cold. I found some of my co-workers that were already ahead of me and bounced up a few places in the line to join them. All around the excitement was palpable. Tonight was the night that we were stepping through the Dark Portal. I chatted happily with my co-workers, most of whom I had played with in some dungeon groups. I looked around and took note that I was one of only a few women. I may have been the only one really REALLY in love with this game we were in line for. One of the guys said to me “You really play WoW?” I replied “Yes, on my level 60 priest!” He looked towards his group of friends and said in a hushed voice “That is so cool.” Yea, that’s right. I’m a cool.
In the early days of games like Everquest and World of Warcraft, there was a nerdy stigma around the men that played a game like that. Every once in a while a story about a poor lonely kid who played one of these games non stop would die, or commit a violent act and the focus of the story was how he played this game. Which I thought was crazy…didn’t most people play games? Most men that I knew were too embarrassed to tell others that they played one of these MMOs. They were the nerdiest of the nerd games…right? How odd it was to be a woman playing these same games and feel like the coolest chick around.
Saturday comes around and I rock my gamer t-shirts that shows how I love to spend my time. I do the normal things that you would expect a thirty-something mom to do on the weekend. I grocery shop or take my kid to the park all while representing my games. Ever so often I would lock eyes with a nerd out in the wild. I would nod their way as if to say “yea, I know I’m wearing a super geeky symbol. I did it on purpose.”
I’ve tried on a few occasions to explain my hobby to other women that don’t play video games. “First I get on my computer and play a character that I can use to fight bad guys.” I would explain, “Then I get on a voice over IP chat with a group of other people playing the game and we would work cooperatively to kill a dragon!” This explanation was often met with puzzled looks. “So is it like a chat room?” one woman asks. I try to hold back an exasperated sigh. “Yea, that’s one part of it.” I guess there is chat in the game right? That doesn’t even scratch the surface of what these games are!
A few months ago my parents were visiting my little family of three during the launch of some new raid content. I asked my mother if she would watch my daughter while my husband and I played the new content with our guild. I told her “The doors to a new fortress are opening and there’s a big race to be the first to kill the bosses. We have to get together with 20 other people and kill some dragons” She seemed to understand, after all my father had been playing MMOs for years. “So are you going somewhere downtown to do all this?” she says to me. I never came close to a real life face palm before this moment. What weird sh*$ did she think we were into? “No mom, we’re not LARPing, we’re doing all this on the computer” Of course my father is barely holding it together during all of this. With a little help from dad, and after explaining what ‘LARPing’ was, she agreed to baby sit for us and gave us a much needed long stint of raiding.
I don’t know why gamer chicks are so cool. Maybe the fact that playing video games, and playing them well is generally a male dominated arena. I know some women can grab an xbox remote and smoke everyone in counterstrike. A now retired Danica Patrick excelled in a sport that is primarily a boys club. Our world is changing for the better in this way. When a women decides to play in an arena generally dominated by men, other take notice.