Being female in gaming

A month ago Sea of Thieves was released on Tuesday 20th March. This is a great game to play with friends, however I tried it alone on the weekend after release. Well the Sunday in particular, with a very dodgy wrist so I was holding my controller in a really weird way just to try it. I decided as at that point I had no friends online who were playing it, and had only come across one person online that I alluded to here, I went to Looking for Group. This is a very useful feature on Xbox One and I have used it before but this experience left me feeling a bit cold and reminded me of a conversation I had had a while before.

Looking down the looking for group posts at the time I did was not the most inclusive time to look apparently. So within a week of release (Tuesday to Sunday) you had the people who had been playing since launch daily as they were looking for people with high levels in this or that and only experienced players. To be honest, these weren’t the ones that reminded me of the conversation and made me feel unwanted. The ones that made me feel cold were the ones with “no girls”, “no female gamers” and “guys only” or similar wording. Also before someone asks, I don’t just mean in the tags where is says “No. before whatever tag” as they were “No. No girls” or “No. Guys only” and such like. There were quite a few of these when I saw the posts and was looking for a group to join. (I have since tried again and not seen this sort of post so it could have just been that time I was looking and by no means do I generalise this to everyone acts this way or would specify groups wanted in this way.) As you can perhaps guess now, as I haven’t made it clear before, I am female. Perhaps I was taking this the wrong way, perhaps I was overly sensitive as I was in a lot of pain and annoyed that my plans that weekend had gone due to the pain, but I wanted to play this exciting new game and with others to have the experience of Sea of Thieves as a crew. Looking at those posts was isolating and not what I think the gaming community is all about in my opinion.

The assumptions seem to be that women are not welcome, are perhaps not as skilled and will be a liability and useless to join in. Almost like they can’t be gamers. Ok maybe I am exaggerating a bit there (though I have had similar comments made to me in the past in person and online) but the conversation that I was reminded of kind of implied these things in one way or another as I will come to. So for me it was more the conversation that made it stick with me.

The conversation this reminded me of was something that I’m sure many others have experienced and I think this is why seeing those posts annoyed me. I was talking to someone in a get to know you thing and I happened to mention I enjoy playing games. Shock horror apparently. The response of “Really? But you are a girl?” struck me. I hadn’t had that response by anyone else within recent months, I mean I had comments before but I hadn’t recently, though I tend to stay away from online gaming so that could be part of it. I also don’t often advertise my gaming love unless there is something that makes it come up. Although my selection of gaming t-shirts, other clothing and geeky things could count as a clue if you knew they were gaming related, some are more obvious gaming ones than others.

The assumption was I was a girl and could not like gaming. The assumption following on from this, after I cleared up that yes indeed I am female, and yes I really do enjoy playing games, was that Player 2 must have got me into games. Since he is male and therefore it is ok for him to enjoy gaming so he must have got me to play. Sadly for their assumptions I have been playing games since I was a child, well before I met Player 2, although it is something that we share enjoyment of. Apparently it is fine that we both love taking photos, for example, but gaming must be down to him and not me.

Then we went into what kind of games I play and if I can be good at games as a girl. I suggested a range of games I enjoyed, from adventure games to puzzle games to strategy games to platformers to role playing games and so on. Apparently this was unbelievable as I had to confirm that. I did discover that this person had only heard of about three games, League of Legends (as their boyfriend and brother played that), Call of Duty and GTA (due to the media presence and how these titles are quoted when it comes to video games and violence when that subject raises it’s head). So I may have expanded their gaming knowledge (a little bit anyway if they even remember this conversation). The “good at games” thing is a tricky one, one I plan to discuss at some point, but I did say that isn’t a question with a simple answer.

My main point from this ramble of discussion is something that I think this community knows completely. It is that women can play games. Women can enjoy games. Women can be good and highly skilled at games. Women can be in all parts of the gaming industry and community. I may not always be skilled at games but I can still enjoy them. Don’t underestimate women, there are so many women in gaming that I admire and so many in this community I could just sit and name them and be here all day. Most people, or at least I hope most people, don’t care what gender you are if you enjoy playing games then you are a gamer and welcome in the community. That is the experience I want and the one I want to show others. I also want this to be the case for Sea of Thieves, one which my initial attempt was not.

I just want everyone to be included in the gaming community as anyone can enjoy playing games. Having since gone back to Sea of Thieves, briefly alone and for a bit longer as part of a group found by Looking for Group I say it could be a great experience. Maybe it was just my bad luck the first time. The conversation, on the other hand, is likely to come up at a moments notice and be something that I have to experience again in the future. Maybe the next time there won’t be so much shock at me enjoying games out of my choice. I can hope.

34 thoughts on “Being female in gaming

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  1. I am not an Xbox fan, but I was intrigued into this game when it first released, but when I found out all the issues they were having that I’m sure are resolved now, they just kind of turned me off, but I’m glad someone is getting enjoyment from it, for I had many followers chatting with me about the disappointment they are facing. But it seems to be getting better, and I’m glad to be hearing some positive feedback about the game…Glad to be a follower to hear this. God Bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see why people are disappointed but I went in expecting it to be quite fun, collect treasure, battle and have fun playing with others. It is a game I will play with friends as a bit of fun. I wouldn’t say I will be really serious with it but I’m sure some people will be. It’s ok on your own but if you have a group it is a much more enjoyable experience in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Unfortunately this is still the state of gaming these days. Some people just can’t seem to get their heads around the fact that anyone can like, play and be good at games.

    Anyone who asks for people to be of a specific level in SoT is clearly an idiot though as SoT is a level playing field, having a certain rank with X merchant means nothing… I really don’t get the attitude of some people.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know, I get that they may want to do more high level quests but that is more that they can afford to get those quests. The point of Sea of Thieves is anyone can play and have the same experience. I played the other day with a group and me with my very low levels was with someone who was about 30/30/30 or not far off and someone who was about 10/16/9 or something like that. The only difference was they were much more used to the controls and knew where to go most of the time whereas I was a bit slower and looking around more.

      The attitude of people both online and in person can be ridiculous. The conversation I had just really annoyed me because it made no difference to the person if I liked gaming or not but the way they made it sound like it was almost unbelievable really got to me. Just let me like what I like even if I don’t meet your preconceived expectations of who someone who enjoys playing games is.

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  3. Urgh! This sounds pretty horrible. I can’t say that I’ve ever really done online group looking with randoms so have little experience, but it’s not surprising.

    I find it so weird, why would the gender of the person you’re playing with have any impact on your gaming session. I can at least understand groups who want a particular level of player…

    … Anyway, it sucks… 🙁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it does suck. I rarely use looking for group but figured it was my best chance for this time. When I used it again more recently I did find a great group and had fun but that first time when I saw multiple posts along those lines it was just a case of looking at them and going why. I mean if you want a certain level of player because of whatever you are doing that is understandable but why specify a gender. I’ve had some bad sessions online with random groups when you go into multiplayer games and find a group that way which haven’t been the best experiences either.

      Then you get the conversations in real life that sound like an investigation as how can you possibly enjoy gaming if you aren’t male which really annoy me. Just let me enjoy what I enjoy. I think that conversation annoyed me more because it did seem like they wanted me to trip up and admit I didn’t really enjoy gaming and it was all down to Player 2 or it was something I was pretending to like.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is way too relatable. I literally just had a conversation with someone at work who said “Oh, I would never have thought of you as a gamer” as I was sat there in front of him wearing a Pokémon hat and I often wear game related clothing or accessories around the office too… People often think that my boyfriend is the one that got me into it as well and that really annoys me because like you I grew up playing them. One time we both dressed up as splicers for Halloween and he got a ton of compliments on his outfit and loads of people were chatting to him about BioShock (which he’s never actually played) but not one person said anything to me other than ‘hey you should chat to the other splicer over there!’ pointing at my boyfriend, and I thought it might have been because my outfit wasn’t very good but looking back at pictures there’s no mistaking it.

    As for the group searching that’s so horrible, I hope they got reported for that or something. I don’t play a huge amount of online games so don’t get that that much but for what it’s worth I’d love to be in your Sea of Thieves crew!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have had the same whilst wearing a variety of gaming clothing/accessories. I like the sound of your Pokémon hat by the way.

      I’m sorry that you get the same thing with it all being down to your boyfriend at least in peoples minds. I’m sure your costume was amazing. I just wish people would have spoken to you about your costume and BioShock. I mean it would be simple enough to talk to you about the same things.

      Thanks! Glad someone would love to be on my crew. I did have fun with a random crew from looking for group but the first experience of trying to find a crew wasn’t positive.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry that you were made to feel isolated like that. I hope those people learn a lesson of sorts that tells of pants contents not correlating to love or skill at video games.

    I can completely relate to you though. I don’t play games online but I do stream, and though most people are pretty neutral much of the time, I can’t believe some of the comments I get from some people about the fact that I’m a girl and can play and enjoy games. My favourite is always how impressive my skills are for a girl – I always want to know where I’d be on the guy scale. Or when I go to a game swap asking about a game and the sellers address my boyfriend to respond, or when people come by the house and compliment my boyfriend on his game collection when it’s actually mostly mine… all these little things are just asinine. It seems really strange that something like this is still an issue and that girls that game apparently have something to prove.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m sorry that you get the good for a girl comments while you stream. I want to know what this mysterious guy scale equates to. I know it is ridiculous that this is still a thing and women have to prove themselves and the assumption is the boyfriend/man in their life is the sole gamer. The little things get to me like the side comments of things being directed to someone else or oh he has a lot of games (had that one a few times).

      That conversation just really annoyed me because even though they knew only a little bit about gaming it still felt like I was being questioned as though I couldn’t possibly enjoy it myself.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never played anything online (because I’m weirdly old fashioned, not because I’m a girl) but that sounds like a horrible and frustrating experience. I’ve been quite lucky in avoiding comments and opinions based on my gender but it seems like it happens to people a lot and it makes me really angry! Feel lucky to be part of a blogging community where it would never even occur to me that people would think like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I rarely play online because I normally think I can’t compete online as I don’t have the time to dedicate to multiplayer. At least not to the extent that some people do and besides which I like playing a range of games rather than just one game. Sea of Thieves is quite welcoming and fair to newcomers so it should be a great experience if you have friends to play with or can find a group. On your own it is ok but it’s a different experience.

      I don’t think I have had the worst experiences as I have heard worse stories. Though some of my online experiences have not been positive. Some have been fine but some were just awful and put me off online gaming for a long time (online with strangers rather than with friends I mean).

      I bounce back occasionally to certain online modes or games as some can be good fun with the right group or competing in a race on Forza say but I wouldn’t necessarily pick an online game/mode over a single player game.

      I’m so glad the blogging community is so welcoming to everyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ugh. Idiots online really get to me. For that reason I just don’t play games online. It’s just not worth the drama to me, honestly. I’m really not a fan of all the toxicity in general, not JUST the kind that’s generated because I’m a woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I know. I don’t play many games online and I generally just dip in and out of a few. I’m also not a fan of any form of toxicity and the drama online either, gender related or otherwise. I have had worse online as in directly directed at me but I know others have had even worse. The sad thing is this sort of thing exists online but the assumptions you get in person when you mention gaming aren’t any better.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Ugh. That really stinks. This whole elitism in gaming really bothers me… I’m very sorry you’ve had to deal with that.

    I haven’t played video games online, so I can’t speak to any of that, fortunately/unfortunately. Usually IRL I’ll have people who are pretty enthusiastic talking about games with me, or folks who aren’t into games will either say “Oh, cool,” and change the subject or, later, will ask really… well, to me they’re weird questions but they’re meant kindly (like, “how’s that game about the dragons going?”). The weirdest comment I ever got in response to playing games was, “But you don’t drink boba tea!”

    I wonder if this depends on location… I don’t stream or post things on YouTube (anymore), nor do I usually post on message boards, but IRL I’ve never had any sort of insulting or demeaning comments thrown my way because I play games (due to gender), for which I’m pretty grateful!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know the whole elitism in gaming thing bothers me as well. I don’t see the point of it and don’t want involved in it either.

      I don’t play many games online in random groups. This sort of thing puts me off in parts with online gaming but I also realise there are so many gamers not like this when it comes to random multiplayer. The main thing that puts me off online multiplayer is that I don’t have enough time to get good at online games in order to keep up. I would prefer to play online with my few gaming friends rather than random people online.

      I want to know the connection between gaming and boba tea now. That is a strange response and if there is a connection it does intrigue me. I also don’t drink boba tea.

      I wonder if there are differences in attitudes based on location. I think in real life it has been better and this is why this conversation stood out as I hadn’t had such a long and drawn out conversation with having to confirm it was me that liked gaming and I wasn’t just saying it in recent times. This person originally lived abroad so I wonder if this was partially cultural.

      Though from time to time I still get the odd comment or things directed to my other half rather than me in real life, but they are generally just one sentence and part ways rather than this which made me feel like I had to defend myself. In real life I don’t generally broadcast my gaming love in ways that people who don’t game would realise (clothes/accessories might not be noticed unless people knew what they came from).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m the same way; I’d much rather play with people I know!

        Well… my friend had only ever known people who were very very *very* into Japanese culture (by her report) who played video games. They were into anime/manga (she wasn’t sure which), and apparently they all drank boba tea. So she associated “gamers” with folks obsessed with Japan and who were avid boba tea drinkers. We had a good laugh about it afterward! haha (After I got her explanation and we talked about how not every gamer is in love with Japanese culture, I said, “Just so you know, to my ear that conversation was just like: “I like apples.” “But it’s October outside!””)

        For me, the biggest obstacle is just being a gamer; no one comments on “but you’re a woman.” It’s more the insinuation that playing video games is a waste of time and effort, that I have to field – at least it’s only when someone has a strong opinion about it!

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  9. I think one of the most telling things about this community we get to be part of is that half these comments are from women! Hooray to have finally found people like us!

    Having grown up in an area where girls don’t game as much as boys do, it can get pretty lonely/demeaning. I completely relate to both your conversation and your gameplay experience. That ‘no girls allowed’ mentally was hard to deal with, even in college. I used to host MarioKart 64 tournaments and people would get mad when I, a girl, would beat them. It can be rough out there.

    But I like that you still talk about it. I went through a phase where I simply didn’t talk about gaming. People were rude and I decided it wasn’t worth it. Way to be brave and stand up for me hat you love! I could learn about something from your confidence!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed hooray for this community and finding you all.

      You hosting MarioKart 64 tournaments in college sounds really cool and I’m glad you had won at times there. It is so daft that people would get mad because you as a girl beat them.

      I went through a stage where I didn’t talk about gaming at all. Now I figure that I enjoy it so may as well talk about it or wear clothes with gaming references because I like it. I still wouldn’t go out of my way to talk gaming but I will bring it up if the conversation leads that way or I think someone is likely to be up for talking about gaming (like someone randomly started talking to me about gaming because I was wearing a gaming related t shirt last week). But I think I’m getting a bit more confident again about talking about gaming with people. There may come a point where considering whether to talk about the fact that I enjoy gaming might not even be an issue and there isn’t the question of girls being gamers and no elitism or toxicity in gaming. Ok some of that is more difficult than others depending on attitudes of some people but I hope that gaming can be welcoming to anyone and everyone in all circumstances.

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  10. Just wanted to stop in and say that people like those you encountered are very, very, small little people. Gaming, like any form of entertainment, is and should remain open to all people regardless of race, age, sex, musical inclination, favorite type of pizza or inherent ability.

    One of my all time favorite gaming memories is from my Halo 2 MLG days, during which I followed a group of gamer girls (I think there were 4) who belonged to a clan called PMS. They were extraordinary and I spent hours pouring over videos and forum posts about how they played and what made them a cut above.

    Well, one randomly wonderful day I found myself matched up with them on Xbox live and could not believe my luck! They were just as good as I thought they would be and were a blast to play with. Some months later, I drove out to a competition with some friends and wouldn’t you know it, the PMS clan was there! They absolutely did not remember who I was, but were happy to go a few rounds of target practice with my friends and I – we made for excellent moving targets ^__^.

    I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t let the hate from small people bring you down. Chances are, they weren’t worth your time anyways! xD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, anyone and everyone should be able to play games and enjoy them.

      That clan sounds amazing! I’m glad you managed to play against them. I also like your description of moving target practice as when I dipped into Halo 4 (I think) online and Tomb Raider online I was essentially that for some people. Also in other multiplayer games when I dip back into them. I managed to get some shots in occasionally by chance and luck I think.

      I try not to let anything get me down these days but this conversation was just one that stuck with me. Then when I saw that on Looking for Group posts it just made me want to write about this conversation.

      Everyone can game, everyone can enjoy and talk about games. I just hope the tiny percentage of people like the people who posted for those groups will eventually realise that women are welcome in gaming. I also hope non-gamers and gamers in real life also remember that anyone can play games and conversations don’t need to become an investigation that feels like they are trying to force you to admit that it isn’t your choice to game and you don’t really like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It won’t come as a surprise that I wholeheartedly agree with you. Girls and women can be gamers if they want to, and be good at it as well! I tend to stick to the Nintendo side of things, where I feel people are slightly less harsh, but can your imagine the comments I get at gaming being a woman and in my mid fifties too?

    Of course I tend to read the goings on in the gaming industry with interest, and I find it so sad the way woman are still treated when they work in the business. Read an article about female game developers in South Korea that made me so angry. Come on everyone, is 2018, not the Middle Ages!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think people can be slightly less harsh on the Nintendo side in general. I can only imagine what comments you get. I think you are right it is 2018 now so attitudes should have changed by now.

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  12. Your story is one that I can most definitely relate to. I’ve been a lady gamer for about twenty years and the number of times I’ve encountered this attitude has been appalling. I’ve resorted to not using a mic when I play online games. It isn’t worth my time or the frustration that happens once the other players realize I’m a woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t often use a mic either, there was one time I was playing online and one of the other players kept trying to get me to use a mic and when I didn’t messaged me about it and then I sort of downvoted me or something (I can’t remember what it was, something to do with rep on the 360 went down and a friend spotted that and asked why). Just because I wasn’t happy to use voice chat with this random person. Some of the problems you face is just not worth the hassle. There are times where you can have a really good experience and people don’t care or notice that you are female but they seem fewer probably because I don’t tend to use mic or highlight that I am female in case of comments or whatever.

      Like

  13. Great post. I am also a gamer and run into this dilemma playing online. Perhaps it’s this kind of exclusion that has me reverting to single player campaigns rather than MMO.

    It’s interesting that you mention GTA because I would argue that that game is completely centered to the male audience. There’s nothing wrong with this, I think. If anything, it’s appealing to the notions of “masculine norms.”

    Going forward, I’m unsure if we should allow the separation between masculine and feminine norms. Does this prevent exclusion or encourage it?

    Your “rant” opens up a lot of feminist questions that are worth exploring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The readon I mentioned GTA was that person knew of it and seemed to assume that all games fell into that type or all gamers played that. Personally I haven’t played any GTA game and I don’t really want to. I would agree that generally speaking it is aimed at a male audience. I think if the same person brought up this topic again the games mentioned would include Fortnite for similar reasons of it gets mentioned on the news and therefore everyone that plays games must play this one.

      The is allowing separation preventing or encouraging exclusion is a tricky subject that should be considered. I have no idea on what way that would fall on but it is an interesting thing to think about.

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