Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Why It Still Sucks To Be Anything But A White, Straight Male Gamer

Since beginning this blog in 2010 I have been vocal about my stance on women in gaming, both as gamers and the avatars in the stories we love to play. As the discussion grew, so did my postings, and non-postings. I’ve done my best to not get drawn into this disaster of a situation called #GamerGate and plan to keep at it as best as I can. But it is equally depressing to read, for as much as the community has changed over the years to be more inclusive, if you are not a straight, white male, you are isolated from other gamers.

I’d love for change to happen within our community, but frankly I don’t see it happening within my lifetime. Maybe in 3 or 4 generations, and by then I’ll be too old to give a damn. I hate having to hide my profile, disable all voice chat, and resort to male avatars in order to be treated as an equal by the majority of the game-playing audience. Do I have to? Of course not. But I’m choosing to do so to avoid harassment. To provide more honesty, I’m obligated to take these extra steps for my own protection – physically and mentally. Most male gamers don’t have to do this: hide their true selves in order to play online. Some do if they are gay or of a different ethnicity, but they’re less likely to face the same level of persecution as a woman. If I don’t do these extra, precautionary measures, I’m “asking” for trouble. As if I am “asking” to be physically assaulted by the clothes that I wear, or the things that I say. Thank you culture for being aggressive against women.

While I applaud the fact that people are discussing these issues about how women are portrayed in video games, it’s not curbing the actions of those who are playing them. Yes the market is changing and more women are playing games. They’re not the majority, particularly with the hard-core gaming group, but they make up a significant amount. In-game and console measures to report abuse and harassment have not improved over the years. We still have to hope that Microsoft reads our Twitter feeds before we get a response; even then only if they are viral because we re-post it everywhere. It’s an inefficient use of resources that never resolves the problem. Some people think it’s part of the norm for the culture, so they let it be.
It’s not normal to call someone fat, whore, slut, bitch, n-word, f-word, and a slew of other slurs. To assume so is not only ignorant, but a great concern. Is this what we are instilling into our younger gamers? That this type of behavior is okay?
A year plus after my initial post and gamers haven’t changed. We have more women, more religions, more people of color in the mix, but the mindset hasn’t altered a single bit. I shouldn’t be forced to hide myself in order to game online, but I have to. I don’t like being harassed, and I’m not asking for it. I’m never asking for it by saying “Hello” in a chat room before the game begins. But that’s all it takes before the name calling and slut-shaming begins. “Hello.” That’s all it takes for me to be called a whore and to be asked to send pictures of my boobs.
Gamers. All gamers. This is never appropriate behavior. Would you want someone to say these things to your mother? Your sister? Your best friend, male or female? Your boyfriend? Your husband?
I don’t mean for this post to come across as white male bashing. I’m a white female. But because I’m “not” the majority I’m a target. I was born a different gender, considered inferior in the eyes of a gamer. I realize that they are a minority because most gamers don’t care – they just want to play the game. But that minority still makes up a lot of people, and they are very loud.

It still sucks to be a female gamer because I'm guaranteed to be harassed every time I log in and say "hello."

It still sucks because I'm never allowed to be myself. I have to disguise my voice, image, and avatar to not resemble anything different from a male.

It still sucks because I will always be judged as weak and inferior for being a woman.

It still sucks that I'll never be assessed on an even playing field, even if I should win every game tournament.

It still sucks because I have to rely on good friends in order to play online and guarantee that I'm safe from harassment. I shouldn't have to force myself to hide from the rest of the world and only play with close friends, when most men can play with random people and have fun.

It still sucks because the male majority think it's normal behavior. Even if it makes them uncomfortable, they won't report, they won't defend, and they won't acknowledge that the actions are wrong due to retaliation. It singles them out just as much as it does for women.

I'm a woman. That's why it still sucks to be a female gamer.
My hope is that one day people will find a solution to the problem and show gamers that this type of behavior is unacceptable. I’m patenting that VOIP recording suggestion. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, feel free to talk to me if you want to use it. Until then, I'll maintain silence when I play online and hide in the shadows of a male avatar. I do it for my safety and to not be assaulted with the words of the vocal minority. Don't you hate it when one person messes it up for the rest of us?

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