[Haniver's note: This is something I have been meaning to write for a while, since I get asked about it a lot. Felt like now was as good a time to post it as any, seeing as I'm out of town for deer hunting, and it's Thanksgiving for us Americans. Normal audio/message updates will return Monday! Take care, all.]
I am a female. I also happen to be a gamer (and vice versa, if that trips your trigger). I personally do not think this specific set of characteristics makes me a special unique snowflake, although it does make me a statistical minority. Now that that’s aside, let’s talk about gender and gaming.
There has been a lot of outcry about gender representation in online gaming. “Why make a big deal out of being a woman who games? Aren’t you just exacerbating the issue?”
Here’s the thing: I’m not. I’m just documenting the results of people who do.
I do exactly two things that inform my teammates of my gender:
1. I have a gender specific gamertag- Jenny Haniver.
2. I have a feminine sounding voice.
I don’t join lobbies, and immediately go, “Oh hey boys! Girl in the house! Teehee!” I don’t say to my opponents once a match has concluded, “You just got beat by a girrrrrrrl!”. I just act like any other normal rational gamer would. I don’t go out of my way to emphasize that I am female.
I join a lobby, I play the game, I talk about enemy positions and interact with my friends. I don’t think that my voice or my gamertag should elicit an extreme response but at times it does. And that shit is fucked up. It shouldn’t happen; and yet it does. That’s why I run the site; to document this type of behavior and to cause people to think a little harder about why things like this happen.
There are many other women out there who game. There are some women who game who don’t want their gender to be known at all; as a result they have neutral gamertags and don’t use mics. Some choose to have gender-specific gamertags and use their mics. Both of those choices are completely acceptable and understandable. The important thing about this whole issue is this: it should be a choice. Women should be able to game, talk in their feminine voices, and even have gender specific gamertags without being harassed specifically because of it. It’s that simple.
For the people who argue that trash talking is a part of online gaming- point considered and accepted. Shit talking is part of the game. However, it doesn’t have to be bigoted and targeting someone’s gender, race, or perceived sexuality. I’m totally up for being screamed at for my choice of gun, the fact that I did really badly in a game, or the fact that I beat them because I’m a camping asshole. However, the minute someone stops trashing me because I’m bad or good at a game and starts throwing phrases like, “Ninety percent of girls who play video games are fat and ugly” around, asking “Hey girl, wanna have sex?” and calling me a “fucking slut bitch”, the focus is unnecessarily brought to my gender, and not because of anything I did. It’s no longer just a matter of someone being a proper asshole…they’re being a proper sexist asshole.
Not talking about the problem doesn’t make it any less real, or make it go away. It never has, and it never will.