If you’re a lady who has ever even looked at a Playstation, you know the sort of backlash that girl gamers are constantly confronted with. I can’t even count the number of times I have gone to the checkout counter of a video game store only to be asked by a guy with a neckbeard if I need a gift receipt for my boyfriend or brother. Or all of those times where I logged on to Xbox Live to play Halo and was met with a lovely stream of pre-pubescent males whining about getting stuck with “some bitch” on their team. These experiences are anything but unique to me, but it feels like the issue remains wholly unacknowledged.
In a recent post on FlyGirlGamers.com, one dude shared his complete surprise at the verbal attacks lady-gamers are met with. One fine day, this guy in particular logged online for a little Mass Effect 3 action. The only difference in this routine was that he was using his wife’s account. Before he even had a chance to start a match, he was already attacked: “Oh great…a girl player? Are you serious? Let’s kick her out and hope we get someone else.”
Even during and after the game, where he maintained a first or second place ranking, the nonsense continued. One piece of encouragement suggested “Suck on a dick and get back in the kitchen.” Cute.
But as I said, this treatment comes as no surprise. This man’s post wasn’t a revelation, but more or less just another day at the office for anyone who simultaneously possesses ovaries and enjoys Bioshock.
The Tomb Raider re-boot from 2012 proved that a video game with a female main character can achieve mainstream success…but what about behind the scenes?
Clearly the main problem here is that we are forced to continue to live on a planet with humans stuck in the early stages of evolution. But because we can’t do much about that, the responsibility lies within the industry itself. In the past ten years, gaming has completely exploded and become permanently imbued in our culture. Its trajectory is constantly expanding and now encompasses education and business as well as recreation. Yet somehow, the gaming industry has managed to remain completely gender-biased DESPITE the fact that 47% of all video-gamers are FEMALE. Yet, rather than marketing these games to a gender-neutral audience, aka the ACTUAL audience, game companies aim to scrape up every 13-year-old male and his weekly allowance; whoever else happens to be interested should expect to be an outcast from the community.
While it’s true that game companies have done more to make women more involved in the games themselves–games such as Fable 3 and Mass Effect 3 come with options to play as either a male or female–it’s the mentality surrounding these games that excludes women from open participation.
It’s true that more and more girls are growing a thick skin and diving into the gaming world; in fact the game-playing population contains more women over the age of 18 than boys under the age of 17. But judging by the content of video game forums, marketing bias, and in-game chatrooms, who would ever guess? What sort of expectation is it that women are to remain silent? Is it our responsibility to tolerate harassment until the bully gives up–if ever? Most importantly, when will the industry openly welcome ladies into the ever-expanding community? Then again I guess if they ever did, I would probably be too busy in the kitchen to notice.