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Oh, Dimorphism on Game and Player

Oh, Dimorphism

Heather Richtmyre  //  October 14, 2010

Look, I'm a woman who's just trying to play video games.


ecently, I have been reminded of some of the unpleasant aspects of online gaming. These can range from the level where I am tempted to utilize a titanium spork against the offender, to those where an eternity in one of the worst futures Harlan Ellison could imagine seems a more appropriate vehicle for my frustration.

Much of this can be attributed to the repetition of certain behaviors. The first comment expecting me to return to the kitchen and make a sandwich was hardly amusing, let alone after hearing such dozens of times. Continual encounters with such prove quite frustrating.

It also seems that a notice stating "Please make inaccurate assumptions about me" appears on my GamerTag or Steam ID. Perhaps both. Prominent in this category is the idea that my use of voice chat is simply to obtain some form of sexual attention, rather than for such practical uses as pointing out cloaked opponents, respawns of valuable weapons, and the fact that my character is on fire and that running away from such would be ideal at such a point. Or the concept that I must play healers, despite never having one as my main character and receiving quite a bit of teasing from friends over my preference for characters fitting the rogue archetype.

Then there is the idea that my boyfriend must have introduced me to games I played before I ever met him, and the application of my competence in any gaming session in the same fashion as a certain xkcd strip. I'm still unsure what pretenses at logic lead to such assumptions, but trying to format an accurate analysis is likely to merely lead to further irritation.

The next person to randomly ask for a picture as some determinant of my value at EVE or Halo is being ignored until they provide an apology,* a dissertation on the work of Octavia Butler, and commentary on CCP's upcoming World of Darkness game without making reference to Twilight.

* Well, maybe just the apology. That in itself would be enough to shock me.

Jessica Johnson // October 14, 2010 // 11:49 AM

All I can really say about this is that if you dish it out before they can even recognize that you are a girl, the large scale harassment dwindles to a nervous reposte.

But I know not all of us are potty mouths such as myself. I have always had this firm belief that no matter what your gender or how thick your skin is, there are just some things that should not be said to strangers.

Gary Armstrong // October 14, 2010 // 12:06 PM

Heather, It's common knowledge that women only play games to impress boys.

Having said that, this is just one of many reasons I would like to dismiss voice comms from games.

Jessica Johnson // October 14, 2010 // 2:30 PM

Sadly, it isn't limited to voice channels. The few times I have actually been harassed were in message format over XBL from people I never spoke to before. I guess some are not afraid to just shoot in the dark and hope they land on someone willing to show them their boobies.

There must be something about the male ego that instantly feels threatened the moment they think a girl might make them look the fool. It's fairly easy to predict reactions to statements like, "I play Halo" or "OMG I love Puzzle Fighter!" The most common being, "I can kick your ass!"

Michael Ubaldi // October 14, 2010 // 5:34 PM

Not to diminish the specter of misogyny in online gaming, but I find that the offenders in question would just as soon attack another, regardless of sex. In Modern Warfare games, which boast the Mos Eisleys of pre-game lobbies, our circle of friends stops all banter when joined by other players and only continues after all have been muted — if we didn't, they would mimic or mock us. That's how congenitally malicious these types are.

Jai // October 15, 2010 // 12:28 AM

While that certainly applies to some players, especially the infamous denizens of xbox live, I've also encountered some who seem perfectly civil until they realize I'm female. Then the sandwich jokes and pic requests begin.

James // November 9, 2010 // 1:22 PM


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