Girl Gamers and Hooking Up On-Line


I’m going to veer off into a personal rant this week. I know everyone loves a good rant and I’ve been pretty good at keeping my soap box tucked away. Well this week I’ve just got to talk about something that really irks me.

First a bit of background…

I’m a girl gamer, a young woman who enjoys playing video games. I don’t pretend to have an interest in games to meet guys; I don’t play to impress them, pick them up, or for the fun of beating them at games.

I’ve been a Play Station girl for many years. I’ve been with PS since the beginning, had a PS2 and now love my PS3. My PS3 is the heart of my entertainment system, not just for gaming but because it plays Blu-Rays and music, you can surf online, play games, etc., etc.. It does everything and it does it really well (P.S. – this is not a paid endorsement). I just love the system. I love the games. I love playing video games.

I don’t have pink controllers. I have plastic guns with real pump action. And yes, sometimes I even pretend to be a kick-ass assassin as I sneak around the apartment with said guns, while using the pump action (it really makes a great sound effect!). I sit on the couch in my underwear and play for hours. I swear like a sailor, yell at the TV, and smash my controller against the couch when the console screws up (read: I make a mistake). This is what gaming is about. I’m no different than any guy playing games. I just want to play.

Recently I’ve ventured into the world of on-line games. I’ve played on-line in the PlayStation Network; some of my games have on-line features I’m exploring; and I’ve played a few demos where people from around the world join me. The first time someone joined me was pretty funny. It was a guy who had a headset and was yelling at me in Spanish! Apparently I wasn’t killing zombies fast enough. Despite being yelled at in a language I can barely understand it was a fun experience.

What isn’t so fun, and what I’m here to rant about today, is how girls are treated online. Now, admittedly I haven’t had much experience on-line to date, but the experiences I’ve had are making me question going back.

Why do guys hit on my avatar? What is it about being on-line, and therefore somewhat anonymous, that makes people feel it’s okay to say the most obscene things? In my case it seems guys specifically like the look of my female avatar and since my on-line name is close to my real name you can easily tell that I am a girl. Does that give someone the right to come up to that avatar and ask if I’d like to find a room and have a private chat? Double wink, add a little nudge.

I’m there to game. Not play emotional games with childish people.

Yet it happens again and again. Sometimes seconds after I log on. Did I miss a memo somewhere? Was there some sort of announcement that playing online games is really code for hooking up with strangers from around the world? Because if that’s the case I might not play online anymore. What happened to playing video games with people around the world? Wasn’t that the whole point? Or am I just finding the wrong people?

I’ve seriously thought about creating a new avatar. A male avatar with a real manly name. But I wonder if that would even solve anything. Do guys experience the same thing in reversed roles?

The stats say girls make up almost half of gamers, although it’s the guys who are still the main video gamers. As a girl who games I find it hard to believe. I don’t see as many female avatars on-line as there are males. I wonder if the girls online are taking on male roles so they can fly under the radar. But what does that solve? It certainly doesn’t change anything, or make the experience better for us. Why should we have to hide? It’s not the 50s. We’re not fighting for the right to vote, or work, or burn our bras. We’re just trying to kill zombies, take out the “bad guys,” or win that street race.

I just want to play games, hopefully on-line, without having to worry about who’s going to hit on me next. Is that really too much to ask?

For my fellow gamers… what’s your experience been like? Does this ring true for you? Any tips for this on-line noob?


4 Responses to “Girl Gamers and Hooking Up On-Line”

  1. This is the main reason why, when I was playing WoW, I played solo 99% of the time. I didn’t always like the way people either talked to me or treated me because I was female. Sometimes I think it was inexperience, but most of the time it was because I was a chick and it seemed to make me a target. I didn’t have the same problems with playing Call of Duty: Black Ops, but I also didn’t say much over the voice chat so I didn’t draw attention to myself and if things were getting weird in the chat, I always bailed and joined a different group. I’m honestly not comfortable gaming online because it’s a social system I’m not used to and it seems to be dominated by guys. If girls make up half of gamers, then they’re either counting casual/mobile gaming into the mix or your theory is correct and they’re doing everything they can to fly under the radar and just be able to game without feeling uncomfortable.

    • HI Shanno!

      Thank-you so much for your comment.

      It’s funy you mention voice chat. I have a headset that’s all charged and ready to go but I haven’t used it once! I’m nervous about talking online for all the reasons we both mentioned. As soon as anyone hears my voice the gig is up. But what kind of sad statement about online gaming is that!?!?

      While we’re on the subject… what do you think about the term “GIrl Gamers”? There seems to be a lot of controversy over it.

      • 3 Shanno

        I think the term “girl gamers” just segregates those of use who are hardcore gamers from the guys even more. Whenever I see a picture on something like Reddit with a tag “girl gamer” it’s usually attached to a photo of some half naked chick with controllers dangling all over her. I never look at myself as a girl gamer…I’m just a gamer. I’ve always been a gamer. I’ve been a gamer since my parents let me play their Atari at the age of 2 or 3. To classify us in a different category than our male counter parts just seems to keep saying that we’re different from them.

      • I agree the term “girl gamer” brings up interesting (and often insulting) results in a browser search. And in theory I agree with not wanting to segregate us further; we are all just gamers.

        At the same time I’m torn because I like people to know there are strong, independant women who do all kinds of things, including gaming. I want other women, especially young girls/women to have us “girl gamers” as a postive role model, as opposed to what comes up in those search results. Especially if women are hiding their identities online. If that’s the case, who will young women turn to when they need those role-models?

        I like the idea of reclaiming the title ‘girl gamer’ and wearing it as a badge of honour. Taking it back and putting our own spin on it, for our own benefit. Of course, maybe that says more about my own biases (women rock!) than anything else! 😉

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