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Out Comes the Evil

Writing, ranting, laughing, and perhaps some crying about anything and everything to do with gaming. Nothing is off limits in this blog as I daringly dive into the deep, and sometimes shallow, end of the pool to explore topics less talked about.

Author: Clovenator

Gender Swap in Gaming

Posted by Clovenator Tuesday August 31 2010 at 4:09PM
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            I've read many blogs that try to uncover why there are a lack of females that are into “hardcore” gaming. Most are blogs that generally point the finger at the objectification of women throughout games and game conventions. While I will admit this assertion contains some truth, it cannot solely justify the lack of a female presence. I've yet to see anyone go into considerable detail on the social aspect of gaming and being a female gamer. Of course many females know that being a gamer has its ups and downs and quite a few women take advantage of this knowledge. However, getting into intense gaming also means getting into a more male dominated environment. While one may not see a problem with this, I can only conclude that it is because they have yet to experience the true social dynamics within online video games.
 
            Starting with Ultima Online, I have been playing MMOs since the age of thirteen. I turn 24 soon (yikes). When I first started playing I remained oblivious to social gaming, seeing as I spent most of my time playing with my father and uncle. After they quit, however, I dove into the social aspects of gaming which included in game chat, voice and messaging systems, and forum browsing. Recognition in PvP came from flexing more than one kind of fighting skill. Fast forward to a couple years later and suddenly I am thrown into the ring with some of the most dramatic and cut throat people I had ever met and yes, they were male. Instead of running around in Ilshenar killing rotting corpses on my lumberjack or farming dragons in Despise on my bard tamer, I’d run around Yew and Brit moongates on my disarm thief, mage tamer, or nox mage, all of which were female characters that had pigtails and wore a green bonnet.
 
            I will admit to making the newbie mistake of letting on that I am a female. I even posted photos of me. Perhaps it was because I was young, didn’t think it’d hurt (other people were posting photos of themselves), and I wanted to be accepted. However, the reason does not matter now. Unlike most girl gamers I was quick to realize what a mistake I had made. I experienced harassment on all ends of the spectrum. Suddenly there were other female gamers spreading rumors about me and men jumping on their bandwagons like lost puppies. There were a remarkable amount of people slinging sexist slurs at any chance they could and some even took it to a level beyond acceptable by diving into my personal life and trying to harass me outside of video games.
 
            I took this as a lesson learned and, after joining World of Warcraft in 2007, finally decided on making a different name my default. While I will not disclose the name, it was somewhere along the lines of Brbowflexing and Spraynpray. In other words, it was not a very feminine name and that was the point. Those that knew my gender were those that were my friends. I decided to make my main an undead male priest (I liked the dance); though I will admit I made a blood elf death knight because I thought they were pretty. I successfully ran a small guild of people, some of which hadn’t known me beforehand. When it was time to do raids, many were shocked when they first heard my voice in Ventrilo, simply because I was not the male I came off as in game.
 
            
After my gender being revealed to various people (in guild, pugs, etc), the effect it had was quite different than my previous experience. I didn’t get teased, taunted, harassed, or stalked. I retained my composure in game and out and refused to use the “girl gamer” status to any advantage. I did not want to be acknowledged for the fact that I was a girl, but rather for my ability and dedication to leading a guild in PvE and PvP content. No matter how far we got in the content, I maintained respect by being patient and willing to work with those with less experience. I did not discriminate against a certain age, race, or gender and thus, we became successful in our own right.
 
            I guess, if anything, over time I learned that the industry cannot be the sole blame for the treatment and portrayal of women in hardcore gaming. Women need to stop trying to ostracize themselves from other gamers by using the line “I’m a girl gamer.” It does not assert some sort of privilege or grant special powers over another person, so stop pretending like it does. If women want to fully integrate themselves into the “hardcore” gaming scene, then the only way to do so is by gaining the respect of those they’re gaming with. Otherwise, if women simply want to gain the attention of men, that is what bikinis and public pools are for. Perhaps gaming is not the correct choice.
 
In conclusion: Females pretend to be males in video games to avoid getting treated like “girl gamers.”
d0nnybr4sc0 writes:

I feel sorry for female gamers. Because once people find out they are females it seems the boys revert back to middle school. I liked your blog hope you have more coming.

Wed Sep 01 2010 4:44AM Report
LadyAlibi writes:

Nobody ever believes I am female unless they hear me on voice chat, and I usually make no effort to let on that I am female. People assume I am male whether my character is male (as I've moved in that direction in the last few years) or female.

It does annoy me to a small degree that when we're both playing female characters, people always think he's really female while calling me "bro". 

Wed Sep 01 2010 10:22AM Report
holeyman writes:

I've had an interesting, and somewhat similar problem.  For some reason, based on my typing style, people seem to assume that I am a woman playing a male character, when I am, in fact, a man playing a male character.  The amount of time spent getting hit on and condescended to is tedious, so I can truly feel for the female gamers who have to deal with it on a regular basis.

Wed Sep 01 2010 2:05PM Report
peacekraft writes:

I think dOnnybr4sc0 has the right of it I am afraid. Though yes it was a good read.

Wed Sep 01 2010 6:50PM Report
Kwansei writes:

There is a ton of psychology research published on this. Try the journal of cyberpsychology or some of the few serious game studies books out there. Makes for some interesting reading if not for the idiotic pun  giggles off of the gender swapping MANOVA results.

Thu Sep 02 2010 2:19AM Report
Quetos writes: Considering the: "Why look at a blokes butt all day when you could be looking at a womans" made me roll a female char and I've never gone back. Strange when random people run over and give you random stuff though... I've worked for 2 female bosses, my present bosses boss is female and run in raids where the RL is female. If it's of any help, the "It's a girl gamer" runs out really quickly once you get a little older. Or at least that's what I've found. Thu Sep 02 2010 8:12AM Report
Tinudalis writes:

As a female gamer, I try not to let anyone in pugs know my gender. It just saves a lot of grief.

Thu Sep 02 2010 11:20AM Report
Vinterkrig writes:

could of used a better title for the blog. anyways the truth is if you don't wanna be harassed on the internet, be private.. and this goes beyond a video game, gaming forum or being a female.

i can promise you, that some guy that posted his picture, probably got as much grief if not more than you did.

Thu Sep 02 2010 12:59PM Report
Madimorga writes:

While I agree that women should never play on their gender to get anything for free in a game, nor badmouth and spread rumors about other females as a way of competing for male attention, females are only half the problem.

 

Males should equally refrain from giving away things to people simply on the basis of gender, and should not give females any extra slack for mistakes or any extra grief based on their gender, and males should definately refrain from turning into drooling hormonal dogs every time someone reveals that she is female.  I don't want to have to play a male character to 'earn' respect and the right to not be harassed.  Why should I have to?

Thu Sep 02 2010 11:01PM Report
Smoey writes:

The worst is Playstation Home. It's like a virtual rape fest on there, my girlfriend now has a guy avatar because she was harassed so much while walking around. Generally though, in the MMO setting she plays a female character and is fairly open when it comes to her gender. You do of course get the general ass but that also happens in the so-called ‘real life’ experience.

Fri Sep 03 2010 2:56AM Report
Reianor writes:

An interesting read, but i find it surprising that "girls" try to hide behind male characters. I mean, when half the server rolled female chars who the heck still expects to see a real female behind one?

As for harassment... as stated above people just take this with them from real life. That's a result of an over-hyped statement that "male's wishes are female's advantage". There's enough "contributors" to this prejudice from both genders to consider it a common problem. Just trying to publicly state a different opinion on the matter can make a "laughing stock" out of male. "Hey, he's not trying to touch every female ass that passes by! Must be something wrong with him!"

You can say all you want about harassment in games, but with the aforementioned viewpoint being so widespread what else can one expect from anything that includes social aspect?

Bottom line - the roots run deeper.

Sat Sep 04 2010 11:38AM Report
ZoeMcCloskey writes:

Very well written, I agree completely.

Sun Sep 05 2010 12:10PM Report
nyxium writes:

Mmmmm boobies.

Mon Sep 06 2010 12:08PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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