I came across this image in my Twitter feed and it got me to thinking: I see this thing a lot. Usually from over-eager guys that want to be allies, or support women who game. Some people like to point and laugh at the obvious awkwardness of it, or call it desperate or whatever, but I rolled it around in my head for a bit and wanted to write something to show that there’s a part of this that is an issue for the gaming community and how we move forward as we continue to grow and more people get into gaming.
No one really denies that harassment happens. It happens to men and women all the time online. The type of harassment and extent/severity can vary depending on the community, platform, gender, age, and countless other variables. It’s a shitty fact of life that we wish would go away, accept that it won’t, and do everything we can to help improve for everyone. On the flip-side of that, to me, are people who are way too eager to please. They want to be some sort of counter-balance to the negative, and in my opinion wind up just being another negative.
First, before we get into the meat of it though, I just want to touch on the last bit. We don’t know Brian’s last name, and while I saw a picture of him with this image I left it out. No need for us to identify Brian, but Brian, dude, you gotta relax with the ladies. I find that the women in our community, the gamers and geeks, they tend to be very nice folks. You don’t have to sell yourself, or say things like ‘Don’t be intimidated’ (which some of them might find an insulting assumption). You don’t have to say you’re not stereotypical, you’re not setting up a date here. Just be you, they’ll find out who you are that way. Don’t assume they’re going to assume anything about you, whether it be your stance on the kitchen or your level of intimidation. And, Brian, I hate to break it to you but while you say you aren’t a stereotypical guy, you kinda are here. You’re the stereotype of the awkward geek guy who doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Just relax and be you, man.
So, all that aside that wasn’t my real problem with this but it did come up when I started asking around to make sure it wasn’t just me that saw this as a bit of a issue. I’m a guy, and while I can empathize, if I’m going to write an article I want to make sure I’m not assuming how this comes off to the women in the community. I could guess, based on what I’ve read in the past, but it’s always best not to guess. What I’ve found is women in our community that I talk to want to be accepted for their skill, how fun they are to game with, and the love of gaming. Saying “I added you because you’re a female gamer” seemed to me to be almost as insulting as “I’m not going to play with you because you’re a female gamer”. If you’re gaming and find out one of your squadmates, teammates, or someone else in game is a woman she most likely doesn’t want you to take notice because of that. I know it’s still not that common to come across women in some genres, like FPS games, but fairly common in RPGs and MMOs. Even then the last thing that they want to hear on voice is “Oh, it’s a girl! Yay, look everyone it’s a girl!” They probably want to hear things like “Nice shot,” “Thanks for the assist,” and “Move your butt, we’re dying over here,” just like every other gamer.
While the reaction pictured above isn’t harassment, it’s the other swing of that pendulum that doesn’t help move us down the road. Most of the gamers I know, men and women, want the community to be a place for everyone and anyone that wants to be a part of it. I’ve often said, more games, with more gamers to play them with. Just like women often don’t ‘come out’ in-game, or use voice because of harassment, I know some who would also feel just as uncomfortable with a reaction like the one above. I asked around just to make sure that I wasn’t making any assumptions, and not only do the women who game want to be taken more seriously than the image above, they also have a great sense of humor about the whole thing.
@tjbierschbach Exactly. I play and collect as I love the medium, and love hanging with people who enjoy it too.
— Ellen J Miller (@EllenJMiller) May 12, 2016
— that brit vamp chick (@khatake750) May 12, 2016
— that brit vamp chick (@khatake750) May 12, 2016
@tjbierschbach As much as I like the idea of slobbering fanboys/girls crowding me for being a girl gamer, I’d rather be accepted as a player
— Salanica- Local Elf (@ElfkinSalanica) May 12, 2016
And two quotes from the Facebook group I brought this up in where I asked if it was just me or did the image come off as too much, and just as bad as looking down on female gamers because of their gender:
Ugh. “Don’t be intimidated”? Rude. Definitely not just you.
Eh it’s 50/50. I’ve seen guys that are so extremely supportive of female gamers they go overboard with it. It’s happened to me a lot. They just want to make up for the rest of the community. Also hearing girls talk during matches is rare. It gets mistaken for intimidation but it’s typically just removing yourself from a potential situation due to pay experience. The kitchen comment might be am awkward nerds way of trying to be smooth. Open mouth, out falls dumb.
I could also be wrong
So guys, be supportive of the women who game, don’t look down on them because of their gender, but also don’t go so overboard that you become the other extreme. They are gamers first, and the vast majority want to be treated just like every other gamer. Don’t be jerks to anyone really, but also don’t treat them like they’re special unicorns that are only seen under a full moon. You’re not helping any more than the guy that laughs at the idea that girls game.