I can’t believe we’re in the 21st century and this is actually still an issue.
Unsurprisingly, I’m a bit of a geek. I don’t deny that. I started gaming when I was in undergrad, basically as a result of some of the people in my degree who were into MORPG’s. Including my boyfriend at the time. They all encouraged me to get involved. It sounded like a bit of fun, and was something we could all do as a social activity.
Hindsight – it wasn’t all that social. It was about as anti-social as it gets. But I digress…
The thing is, even though all these guys in my degree (including my boyfriend) all encouraged me to play, heaven forbid I actually do well at it. I lost count of the number of times I was threatened with rape or violence for doing better than them. Even though half the time we were all sitting in the same physical room playing, the threats were all made online within the game, nothing was ever said out loud in the room.
I put up with that for far longer than I should have in an effort to try and get along with the people I was studying with.
Eventually I broke up with the boyfriend, and dropped online gaming like a hot potato for a long time. During grad school I picked it up again, but never seriously. I played WoW. I played Team Fortress. I played a CoD. Other random stuff. But again, although all the guys encouraged me to get involved, heaven forbid I actually do better than them. The threats were along the same lines as those I received during undergrad. Threats of rape and torture. Misogynistic, sexist, violent.
I don’t play games anymore. Except for silly things like Candy Crush or Angry Birds…
So when I see incidents like Gamer Gate hitting the news, I’m entirely unsurprised. My experience is that this attitude is shockingly common within the gaming community. I know not all guys are like @scrumpmonkey and his ilk. But the reality is that it is common. Many guys in the online gaming community treat female gamers like their sick fantasy toys. They speak to you like you’re in some really bad S&M porn video and “you should shut up and like it, for we allow you to grace us with your presence in this game.”
If guys spoke to a woman like that in real life, there’d be cops all over it. It doesn’t make it acceptable behaviour just because it happens online.
This has got to stop.