I’ve commented on girls and gaming before, but the latest Escapist was focused on the topic. OMG Girlz Donâ€™t Exist on teh Intarweb!!!!1 was written from the point of view of a female having to deal with the strange way males react when they discover who she is.
Throughout the article, the author had her sex revealed in various ways, and each way seemed to get the same result:
“OMG!!!one! ur a gurl?! SHOW PIC!”
And when she refused to show a picture of herself, the other people would conclude that she wasn’t really a girl. You know, because all girls show their pictures on the Internet, so she couldn’t have been one. If the pic was acknowledged as real, it was dismissed as the obviously male player’s sister or girlfriend.
It’s weird how the existence of a female online will cause almost all males in the vicinity to think about unbridled white horses running past a field…
She also mentions the other extreme. Imagine that you meet some of your online friends in person, and you get completely ignored. Are they just shy, even if they swear like sailors when the Zergling rush is destroying their defenses?
As a male, I’ve been guilty of trying not to be the amorous jerk but ending up the guy who doesn’t even acknowledge the girl’s presence. Whether it is for gaming, software development, or Gnu/Linux user groups, either reaction results in females being uncomfortable.
I distinctly remember playing a game of Quake 3 Arena online a few years back, and there were two other people on the map. We were playing 1v1 instagib, and suffice it to say that I was getting killed soundly. One of the other players informed me that the deliverer of pain was a female. I actually don’t remember how it came up, but I do remember that I was actually trying to strike up a conversation. She remained silent, and I didn’t think much of it.
I did think about it later. I rarely try to talk with my opponents online. Why was this case different? Why did the fact that she was a girl make me want to talk to her? I’ve had conversations with males online, but the idea that I was playing against one of those rare female players was just…well it was just rare, which made it interesting.
When there is a group of male gamers, no one makes much of it. Hey, want to join my group? Nice shot. GG!!
But when there is a female involved, I think I get more conscious about it. Trash talking isn’t carefree anymore. Now I worry if calling an opponent a “bitch” will be taken badly by the Female, even if she is on my team and not the recipient. If I say “good job” will it be construed as making a pass? Am I aiming at her because I am trying not to avoid aiming at her, or am I just playing the game? I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable, and so maybe shutting up will be best. Which, of course, isn’t.
Why can’t she just be another Gamer? Why is the fact that she’s female so intriguing?
The author of the article talked about the instant message conversation, showing her picture, and getting WTFs and the like. I know that there are female gamers so I don’t think I would lose all manner of speech except for TLAs. Still, what DO you say? Would it be inappropriate to say that she’s pretty? I know I wouldn’t tell a guy that he looked handsome or cute or something, but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever sent a pic to someone online. I mean, my orange juice pose seems to get enough comments. B-) In any case, somehow I don’t think “Oh, a pic. c001” would suffice.
Maybe what happens online is the same thing that happens in real life. People don’t know how to act in front of the opposite sex, especially when they show up in a place that they didn’t usually. It’s common for people to assist newbies when starting out, but females seem to get this overwhelming help throughout their gaming career, as in the case of City of Heroes. People will steal kills because they think they are “helping” her out. Apparently in World of Warcraft it isn’t uncommon for female players to be given gifts, usually in exchange for dancing.
Why do men either give women trouble for playing games or insult their abilities by assuming they can’t do well if they aren’t helped? And why does my interaction with females online become calculated and conscious compared to my interactions with males?