I Reject the ‘Big Boys’

One of the interesting things about the whole set of issues associated with women gamers is that women, unsurprisingly, have different views on these matters — if they choose to consider any of this as at all important. Some of them claim that there shouldn’t be a ruckus about women and gaming, but they still feel the need to address it at length.

Last week, I was discussing women gamers with a colleague, another woman gamer. She expressed extreme annoyance, a view that I share, towards the Jessica Chobots of the gaming world. These women gamers use their gender as an advantage to get attention and special treatment from male gamers, who dominate gaming culture. This attention-seeking manifests in online gaming, too. I’ve read that women players will play up the fact that they’re women and they get items, gold, and special treatment.

Many women agree that the attention-seeking women gamers make it difficult for the ‘genuine’ women gamers be treated seriously. Some women gamers think the solution is to try to fit in with the current gaming culture. If we conform, we will be treated ‘seriously’ and accepted as equals. In other words, if you want to play with the ‘big boys’ you need to let some things slide.

The problem with this notion, in my opinion, is that it presumes that the way the ‘big boys’ act is something that we should aspire to, that this culture should be the de facto standard. I don’t agree. Why should I conform when I find many of the standards unacceptable?

The idea that I should accept slurs on sexual abilities or sexual orientation in order to be accepted — common practices in gaming culture (and often in male culture) — is ludicrous. To be accepted, I have to tolerate people using ‘gay’ as a pejorative term in order to be accepted by mainstream gaming culture. These women are saying that I have to accept that mainstream gaming culture condones the use of the word ‘rape’ in ways that don’t relate to the act of literal rape. The only peope who use rape in that way and find it cool are probably rapists themselves, or just sadly and mindlessly oblivious. I find this usage offensive, and quite frankly, unacceptable.

I don’t want special treatment as a woman. I don’t advertise my gender when I play online games. It rarely ever comes up. However, just because I don’t want special treatment doesn’t mean that I want to be treated like men treat each other. Have you heard how immature guys talk to each other? Quite honestly, it’s embarrassing, ridiculous, and stupid. Why would I want to be a part of that? If this means that I’m considered an outsider by other gamers, and even other women gamers, that’s fine with me.

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