Girls Just Want to Have Fun

(The post in which I confess something astonishing)

Let me say this first. I am not a raging feminist, but I do believe that women and men should be treated equally. All people are different and have qualities that could (potentially) make the world a better place. It is one of the wonderful things about humanity. This week I’ve seen so many posts with males flaming females for stepping out of their “gender roles” and broadcasting that they are gamers. Now, we all know that gamer girls have been around since games first began. Just because we have lady parts doesn’t mean that we don’t play. We just haven’t had a medium to share our love of gaming. While there are many, many supportive men out there who love the fact that girls got game, there seems to be a very loud minority who is threatened by this.

My favorite geek girl, Felicia Day (creator of The Guild, “I’m the One that’s Cool,” member of the Vaginal Fantasy Book Club-can’t wait to see who finds my blog searching this- and an all around awesome person), recently created this song/video:

It is full of all sorts of awesome. The sad thing is that little trolls started flaming her for it, saying that girls will never really be gamers and worse things than that. She explains it better in her blog. If you have time, check it out. It made me think, though. I’ve always been accepted as a gamer.

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Confession time (a.k.a. don’t judge, ya’ll):

I spent hours making characters.

When I was younger, I used to sit with my brother and his friends and play Dungeons and Dragons. I played Vampire: The Masquerade on a BBS where I was a sysop. I was a dungeon master, a good one– it is telling stories, after all. I have a huge collection of dice; I love the way they feel in my hands. I loved RPG-ing. It was social and imaginitive and I NEVER once worshiped the devil. Never. It was good for me. It kept me out of drinking/druggy parties that the “typical” teenager participated in.  I wasn’t limited to in-person gaming. Some of my favorite games on my first computer were the Ultima series. I love RPGs, electronic or in person, and I have for as long as I remember. I still do.

I play World of Warcraft with my family and when I need to de-stress. Sometimes reading a book isn’t enough of an escape and I have to attack wee beasties. It is also one of the ways I can keep in contact with my brother, niece, and nephew. We are more apt to have a conversation online than anywhere else. Sometimes I log on just to say “hi.” Weird, right? Once again, it is the social aspect that I enjoy the most. And the stories. And the graphics.

So, there is my confession. =)

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I was always accepted in my group of gamers. I think they kind of liked the fact that I was an actual, real life girl. I have a special place in my heart for those boys. I guess this is why this hit me so hard this week. I have seen so many examples of male resistance to the acceptance of females in gaming. I never realized that it was a problem faced by many of my fellow female gamers. I didn’t realize how afraid these boys are of girl gamers.

When I started online gaming, I would let other players know that I was female. I am not one to hide who I am. Then I started noticing a difference in the way that they treated me. They weren’t mean or anything. They just tried to get me to talk… well… dirty with them. Yuck, right? I  warned them once and if they didn’t stop, I blocked them. It got to a point where I only talked to people that my brother and I knew in real life. It was disturbing, but not enough to make me stop playing.

I figured that my experience may be totally different from the experience of younger girls so I decided to interview my niece. Just so you know, I barely got a C in my journalism class in college so my interviewing skills may be a wee bit less than stellar. It’s not my fault! I just thought important things were important; my professor thought differently. Anywhoo, my darling niece is 13– making my brother really, really old (love ya!). She plays video games and MMORPGs like WoW and she plays them well.

Rilin
my niece’s kick-butt rogue

She raids, does PvP, and battlegrounds. Often she takes other noob characters under her wings and helps them get through tough places. She is the whole package and then some. So, here goes on the interview:

Me: Do people treat you differently when they find out that you are a girl?

Rilin: Sometimes they stop talking to me because of it. They’ll talk to my brother, but not me.

Me: Has anyone ever been mean to you?

Rilin: No, but the “there are no girls on the Internet” joke gets really annoying.

Me: How do your female friends who don’t game treat you when they find out?

Rilin: The ones who don’t make fun of me, but in a teasing way.

Me: What if the boy you liked told you to quit playing? Would you?

Rilin: NO! It is one of the things I really love.

I was happy that she wasn’t being treated horribly. Interestingly enough, while I was conducting this in-game chat with her, a “boy” in the guild was talking about wanting to give a woman a vaginal exam with gloves made out of metal filings. He had no idea that there were females playing. I don’t even think he considered it. Needless to say, I told him that we didn’t appreciate that kind of chat. Unfortunately, it took my 14-year old nephew to threaten him with getting kicked out of the guild for him to stop.

It seems that it is getting worse. Maybe it has always been like this and only now is it coming to light because girls are standing up for themselves. It is so frustrating when women have to fight for the right to be treated as a human being every single step of the way. Perhaps it will disappear because it is being talked about.

My shaman

Oh, if you want to feel a little bit disturbed, search “real-life Barbie.” I found it during my research for this post. I am still getting the heebees.

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6 thoughts on “Girls Just Want to Have Fun

  1. I was completely oblivious to this until yesterday when I linked to some guy’s cool response to gamer-dudes being ignorant online.

    I have fostered my daughter’s love of games. When I was just a young punk gamer dude, I though THE height of cool was a girl who dug games too.

    I’ll let her game play speak for itself. But it’s amusing/disturbing that gamers of all people would think to discriminate. . .

    • Maybe because (back in the day) gaming was face to face. Guys who liked to game with girls knew that they were girls. Now, we’re all playing on the same field, but with a sense of anonymity. I love the Internet, but it sometimes brings the cruelty out in people.

      The whole Geek revolution is calling gender roles into play again. I guess many of the guys out there thought that they owned it. They were wrong!

      Thanks so much for the comment. 🙂

  2. Wow. This is all news to me, which is a little scary considering I have a teenager who spends an embarrassing percentage of his life playing online video games. It never occurred to me that this idea that “girls don’t play video games” was an actual frame of mind that boys had instead of a stereotype that adults perpetuated about girls or the result of girl-on-girl peer pressure.

    In fact, *I* taught Nate how to play video games. I owned a PlayStation before he was even born, and I distinctly remember helping him move Crash Bandicoot around the screen to collect wumpa fruit. Even later, in the evenings before Helene was born and after Nate was in bed, the Hubs and I played Civilization against each other from adjacent computers until the wee hours of the morning.

    So, I am really glad you wrote this, because now I need to sit Nate down and have a little chat with him …

    • It surprised me as well. Growing up in a family of gamers, I never felt out of place. I just hid it from all of my friends. Mostly because I was unbearably shy. Also because I knew it wasn’t “normal.” I was weird enough as it was. =) I think that, by the time boys start playing online games, most parents don’t have time to play with or around them. They don’t have a point of reference about how to act appropriately. *shrug* I could be totally wrong, though. It happens.

      Ah, Crash. Oh, how I loved him! Civilization– hours and hours spent on that one.

      Thank you for the comment. I am glad that my post gave something to you.

  3. I enjoy my fair share of video games but have strayed away from online games bc of an experience I had online while in high school. It bothers me a lot that some gamers have no respect for the others in the room and speak the way they do. I love that your niece plays and I hope that Claire will one day play with her dad, I’m just worried of the things she will learn/hear from foul mouthed adults :/
    I love that ur a nerd Mrs! it makes me smile 🙂
    And Ive seen the human barbie pictures…oober creepy.

    • I can understand not playing because of horrible experiences. I have played in one (1) battleground on WoW and have sworn them off forever. Nobody can convince me to do it again. People were just so vicious toward each other. I hated it.

      Nat plays occasionally– mostly she just walks around and kills the “evil” bunnies. It is very controlled for her. When she gets old enough, we’ll have The Talk. She is getting a pretty good idea of what is appropriate/inappropriate. If Claire has a good foundation (I am sure she will, btw), then she’ll be able to ignore the “adults” out there. Oh.. Nat will only get to have the in-game chat. No audio chat for my girl for a while.

      I am a total nerd. I hid it well, didn’t I?

      Thanks, again, for visiting my blog. I appreciate your support and your comments.

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