On Being A Female Gamer

It always surprises me – and to this day, I have no clue why, as I have experienced this over and over and over – with the way a lot of male gamers treat female gamers.

For a while, I was, as far as I’m aware, the only organizer in the city of Seattle that had a regular sanctioned Friday Night Magic going at a gamestore. I also played, though eventually, I couldn’t play in my own tournaments due to rule changes. I also went to bigger events and would often hear the comment “Oh… I have to play against the GIRL.” I’ve had people go ask if they were paired down, I’ve had them complain, I’ve had them say “This will be an easy win” (hey, jerk, I’ve won just as many games as you to get here, so think again).

It’s been assumed that I don’t play. It’s been assumed that I was only there for my (now former) husband. It’s been assumed that I can’t figure out the rules. With Magic, it was often, “Oh. Your husband built you a nice deck.” (No, I built it and YOU got the build for yours off of the ‘net.)

Likewise, if I don’t “get” something, it’s because I have a vagina, not because, you know, that thing is hard for a lot of people to “get”.

Likewise, in RPGs, I’ve often found that I’m expected to (not that I DO, but it’s been expected that I would) sleep with somebody – either in game or out – to get what I want. It’s been assumed that it’s just better if someone else makes – and decides everything about – my character. My character is assumed lesser because she’s a girl.

In video games, if I pick a female character, she usually WILL be weaker.

If someone loses? “Oh, I didn’t get __ card that I needed” or “I wasn’t feeling well” or, even better, “You must have cheated.” The assumption being that “You’re a girl. You can’t be a good player. There’s no way you can be just as good or better than me.”

With that being said, if I’m playing with friends, I don’t usually experience this. I know a lot of gamers who are courteous to women. I had a particularly delightful experience at a big Magic tournament once when somebody told me, “I’m really glad I got to play against you. I wish more women played but, frankly, with the way most women get treated here, I’m not surprised they don’t. Thanks for sticking around and putting up with the crap. I wish you didn’t have to.” (He’d seen a previous match of mine where the guy complained the whole time about playing against the girl).

AND… there’s some pretty appalling behavior exhibited by male players towards female players, but there’s some pretty appalling behavior exhibited by male players towards male players, female players towards male players, and female players towards female players. I think that a lot of gamers are socially inept and try to cut them some slack because of it. (Not that all are. And when I play with friends, I find that to be less true, though maybe I just don’t notice it as much.)

With all of that said, I’d never stop playing just because I got the “female gamer” treatment. If I stopped doing things because of how I was treated for being a woman, there’s a lot of things I’d never do again.

This first appeared on a G+ post of mine. I wanted it here because I think it’s important for women to speak up about things like this. Please, women, don’t let people intimidate you into not playing, into not having fun.

You count.

You matter.

Yes, even if you’re a woman who is into gaming.

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