When you first approached me about the topic the idea sparked a lot of immediate emotions. Both as a gamer and a game developer it kind of angers me a bit that women still aren’t really ‘meshed’ into the community just the same way men are.
For a guy to come into any game room and start playing is no big deal, depending on their skill level. For a woman to pop into a game room, they are unfortunately faced with a vast array of reactions. Everything from neutral, ‘hey, sup?’ reactions all the way to the creepy stalker gamer who tries to follow them out of the game and onto Facebook and from there potentially in to real life. It’s a really scary thought process.
As a guy, when a woman comes into a game I even still do my own analysis. Primarily my reaction is to sit back and watch how others react. I of course offer a general greeting, but I’m automatically on the defensive FOR them. Not that they need it, but more so that I don’t want a community where I spend a lot of my time to turn into a sandpit of 2 year olds throwing dirt at the girl in the boys club – it’s ridiculous. Of course I’m assaulted with male reactions of, ‘oh wow, finally, a lady joins the fray of insanity!’. I think that the initial thought process anyone has when a male OR female joins a game is entirely naturally theirs, but how they voice it or express it – is a choice.
Whenever I hear things like, “oh man, another chick in [random FPS here], uhg”. My first thought is always about a friend of mine in Kansas who was a Halo gamer. She thrived on comments like that and would seriously harass-hunt the person who said that first and make them pay for it. Now as a gamer, I find it totally justified. That’s smack talk and consequence to me. However, in some cases the things she heard were extremely vulgar and offensive and that kind of hurt my heart that people would act like that.
We do live in a generally horrible world, but that is also one of the reason so many people play games in the first place is to escape the real world. Movies, football, and baseball are all the same in my opinion. They are an escape from the horrible world into something you love to do. No one has any right to take joy away from someone else in any capacity, but especially within the world of their passion. To me that’s just a gross abuse of vulgarity that makes one appear weak, lonely, and generally not worth my time.
Now, alternately I’m not saying anyone should bow and submit every time a woman comes online, or a man. Unless that is something you are into, it’s just a ridiculous opposing reaction. What I am saying is, treat them with respect that you would like to be treated with.
I miss the days where the golden rule was written on the wall at my grade school and the teacher reminded us of it every day and twice when someone disrespected someone else. Besides, you never know when that ‘chick with a gun’ is actually your HR manager you have to go talk to the next day…just sayin’. LOL
Another part of women in gaming that truly makes me sick to my stomach is the stalking. Oh my heavens… I have no way to speak of this and not be vulgar about it, honestly. There is nothing wrong with desiring another person – at all. What makes it unhealthy, unsafe, and absolutely disgusting is when you force that expression upon someone when it is totally unwarranted. A woman that I actually met, and dated, online would often tell me how many times a day she was assaulted for her Facebook link in WoW or Diablo. As soon as they found out she was…a she…the first questions PM’d to her were usually physical body related or Facebook page related. Now as her man I would get infuriated. Sometimes I do wish women treated men the way men treat women just to show how unabashedly disrespectful they are to women. But in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t really fix the real issue. Stalking is such a horribly dangerous and unhealthy thing.
Social media like Facebook, Google+, etc are always fun to use to keep in touch with friends and family and such, but we often forget about the security aspect of it. Often a picture taken in complete innocence can be misconstrued or even information can be extracted from the image that could put that person’s safety at risk. To speak to this, a story of a girl who was stalked purely from her publicly available Facebook posts was killed. The person was not on her friends list. Scary and disgusting.
Games bring people together, often on a level that general socializing often can’t do. It is a medium just like any other of socializing and escape. Everyone, whether they are male or female, whether it should be offline or online, should be treated with absolute respect; where it is earned.
Now, as a game developer I usually seek women’s input more than males. Mostly because the types of games I enjoy DO have a higher male population than female. So the logic in my head is that if the lower gender population enjoys it and can offer details on how to make it better then the other higher population gender will most likely enjoy it as well. That doesn’t mean I do not seek input from male gamers at all; I absolutely do, but I usually seek their input later in development. Women also have a different mind than men and in developing, can offer me a thought process I simply didn’t have before.
The plain simple truth of it all is that women gamers and men gamers both should be treated equally in game development, in the game itself, in the world, in business, in sports, or anywhere. I don’t think the argument is really about men or women in gaming, but people in general in the world. Treat each other with respect and accept nothing but respect in return. I am thankful more and more games with online or mutliplayer elements are adding blocking features by IP instead of player character name. It is far too easy to make another character and find that person again and start the harassment all over again. To add to this I think developers could do even more to help the person being harassed as opposed to the person doing the harassment being punished, but that’s another topic for another day.
I look forward to a world where it doesn’t matter at all that a man is playing behind the character or a woman as long as they don’t stand in the green stuff and heal the tank. Priorities, people…priorities.
Out of Tyler, TX