Being a Woman in Gaming

Typically there would be at least one other female gamer in the guild that I was in.  I don’t know if this is because we tended to find each other due to the type of leadership that the guild had.  I had refused to play with certain guilds due to how I was treated, or if they had provocative pictures on their forum.  I am fine with pictures of beautiful women but I’ll be out the door if they is pornography in your player forums…just….no.

In my experience there is always a lot of flirting in games.  When your guild has a male to female ratio of 15:1 you tend to see the women getting a lot of attention.  I have benefited from lots of help over the years in the game, I will assume that it was due to being a female.  I always try to pay it back or pay it forward but I’m sure there is an imbalance in my favor.

Along with the attention, women can also be the target of unwanted harassment.  There have been more than a few times where I received inappropriate and unwanted private messages.  It was even worst if it came from people that I played with on a regular basis or members of my guild.  It was a difficult position to be put in.  If a woman deflects advances she gets called a bitch and I’ve seen this type of negative notions get spread throughout a guild because rather than nurse a bruised male ego quietly, it was done with rumors and trash talk.  For about 2 years I refused to play in the same guild as my husband (boyfriend at the time) because there was this ONE GUY that would call me a “little c**t” every time I joined up with them to do group content.  I told him to cut it out, but he saw that it irritated me so he kept doing it.  One of the benefits of being the guild leader is that people don’t test my boundaries like this.  If they were to call me any sort of derogatory term they would be out the door faster a speeding ticket.

I’ve been exploring the world of how female players are treated in gaming to gain a broader understanding beyond my own experiences.  I found the Not in the Kitchen Anymore where a Jenny Haniver publishes clips of negative interactions that she has with other gamers.  I will tell you that I’ve listened to these clips and was shocked to find that my initial thoughts were “yea I hear this all the time” and it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.  Have I grown complacent to the verbal abuse that we face in these games as women?

So why do these men berate women in these games?  Is it a power thing?  Are the motivations to cat call women on the street or call them whores in video games the same?  I’ve often heard that women would be better off if they confronted the abuser and to this I am conflicted.  A few weeks ago I was the target of unwanted advances while at a fair grounds.  I will tell you that I did not give him an ear full for a few reasons, first – he was operating a ride that my child was on and I didn’t want her to become a target for retaliation after I rejected this man.  Second – I didn’t know what this guy was capable of, was he prone to violence?  or stalking?  I don’t know and I’d rather not put myself in a position to find out.

World of Lovecraft

We entered an underground cave where the fish-people had set up a military facility.  They patrolled back and forth as we waited patiently out of sight.  One by one, we jumped into the water and frantically swam as sharp fish teeth pierced our skin.  We were after the treasure and equipment the that was held by those running of the facility.  With sword in hand, we cut our way through our enemies.  It was a typical Tuesday night.

I was a healer and I was dam good at it.  So good, that when a newcomer came along and outperformed me, I took notice.  He had just joined the guild and I was watching him.  Watching him because I wanted to CRUSH him.  Did I mention I’m a bit competitive?  This is just what I needed to push me to be better.

Several years before I ever met my husband in person, we played a game called World of Warcraft.  We played together off and on as we would drive in and out of the game.  It was one of those online friends that you always got along with and was always down for a dungeon run.  It wasn’t until I was fresh off a long term relationship that meeting him ever occurred to me.  We had known each other for years and years but this was brand new experience for both of us.

Early into our courtship we sat down and played against each other in Halo. It started with me kicking his butt and as he got used to the controls…ended with me throwing the controller at his head. I HATE losing.  I love that he’s competitive but I also love that we now solely play cooperative games together.  Less things get broken this way.

It was a whirlwind romance of weekend visits, wine and video games.  He lived about an hour away from me and at this time I was a college student, working two jobs so we fit in time when we could.  Most Saturdays I would have to work a 7 hour shift and would come home to find him eating taco bell, pugging a raid on my computer.  I know that gaming is a major turn off for a lot of women, but for me it an absolute necessity in a partner.  The last thing I needed in my life was the guy I was with whining about how much time I spent on the computer.

Do you remember that newcomer that seriously put me in my place?  If you guess that I was talking about my future husband, you’re right!  Much later I’ll learn that he had just picked up the class that he was playing and that he barely knew what he was doing!  After 5 years of marriage we are still going strong.  Those that play together, stay together 🙂