Monday, July 27, 2009

No, you're mistaken. I'm actually a 10-year-old boy.

The other evening whilst talking to a certain handsome gentleman in my life we got to talking about video games. Yeah, shocking huh? Sometimes I actually do wonder if I ever talk about anything else but then I wouldn’t be nearly as awesome as I am. Anyway, we’re both big fans of Left 4 Dead and I was telling him about this awesome experience I had playing versus mode the other night: my team and I, who started out as the survivors, were committed to staying tight and moving fast. Every time one of us got in trouble, another was there to help them out. We crowned the witch and took down their tanks with no problem and on the flip side we ripped them to shreds when it was time for us to play infected. The only downside . . . was me.

My team was very, very vocal (which you pretty much need to for a successful Left 4 Dead match) but it never ceases to surprise me at how quickly I get nervous when I hear, “Hey, Rosenrot, you there?”.

Nervous, anxious, uncomfortable - any verb will do.

The point is, I never initiate conversation with people I don’t know on Xbox Live. Ever.

Nothing sucks the fun out of my good time than the inevitable, “Whoa, are you really a girl?!” or the countless other things I’ve been called or have been said about me which I won’t repeat here. You would think that this idea of “no girls play games” would cause male gamers to be nice and helpful to encourage them to come back but this is generally not my experience nor the experience of my female friends. I mean, I can understand maybe the initial surprise but not the harassing comments that tend to follow.

For you guys out there reading this let me ask you this question: why do you think this happens? Are guys nervous? Threatened? Showing off to one another? I will point out here that very, very seldom will a solitary man catcall a woman in public but that groups of men seem to not be able to help themselves. Is this the same thing?

Let me know!


  1. This is so true. When I played Gears of War it was constant harassment. I swore back, and because it was my brother's account, he got some bad feedback because of things I said in my own defense. It makes you only want to play with people you actually know. So, so lame. But I would guess that any guy who acts like that must feel threatened. Like, and not to man-bash, the girls have invaded their private or "guy-time" perhaps? I dunno.

  2. Kendall,

    That. sucks. If you want to go through the hassle, I would contact someone at Microsoft and explain what happened. I'm pretty sure I've heard of similar things happening and being resolved that way.

    And yeah, certainly not all men/boys do that shit, but it's happened enough to make me wary of chats with strangers.

  3. It's what I call the "boys club" effect. I'm hoping that many gamers are learning to outgrow it, however slowly:

  4. Matthew,

    Very interesting link. Thanks!

  5. Do they REALLY need to lure men into gaming with practically naked women?! Shouldn't there be naked men? Shouldn't they be trying to expand out to women? BAH!

  6. It seems to me that the anonymity provided by the internet plays a large role in the negative reactions you describe. Just as you say, a lone man won't harass a woman on the street, but when part of a crowd he could feel free to act as demeaning as he wishes. In addition, it seems to me that the transient nature of the contact provided by a game like L4D fuels this type of behavior. Honestly, how often do you really run into the same people in an online multiplayer game like this? Knowing that you're unlikely to see this person again lowers ones' inhibitions with regards to acceptable language and "conversation." Compare this to an MMO, where the stereotype suggests that women who make their gender known will be showered with attention (almost always positive; aid, loot, gold, etc.), most likely due to the increased chance of repeat encounters. Perhaps games like MMOs are seen as a more "acceptable" genre for female gamers?

  7. Selunoob,

    I think you're correct in the assumption that MMOs are seen as more acceptable for female gamers. In fact, I think when most people find out that a girl they know plays games they automatically assume World of Warcraft or a handheld console. Not that these games are lesser by any means, but they are more approachable.

    I also think you're 100% right on the issue of, "what do I care, I'm never gonna see this chick again" thing. 100%.

    Thanks for the comment!

  8. I have neither harassed a woman or seen a woman being harassed in-game because of her gender. That would be so totally stupid.