Guest Blog #2: The Curse of Gender: being a female gamer with RedsGameSpot

Here is the second guest blog on my site, this time featuring RedsGameSpot who will be shedding light on sexism and its prevalence in online video games, specifically DOTA2. RedsGameSpot is run by Kate, another friend and classmate of mine, who writes excellent game reviews and insightful blogs. By reading about her personal experience as a female gamer, I hope this blog provides you with a new perspective on female gamers and the hardships they unfortunately have to endure. Please check out her site which can be found here, for more amazing content!

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In all honesty, I haven’t experienced a vast amount of hate for my online gaming participation from the largely male community. Most often, when someone hears me speak over mic in game (especially with Dota 2), immediately there is an overwhelming “IS THAT REALLY A GIRL?”. And then we lead into the three responses, which can sometimes overlap; sexual advances, hate and support.

To begin, the most common reaction I’ve had, especially when playing Dota 2, is for the other male players (typically under the age of 20), to start by being quite kind, and then quickly become sexual in their comments. I have had an Invoker ask me for nudes. I’ve had a Dragon Knight protect me and sacrifice himself for me while speaking like a medieval suitor over the mic. I’ve had complete randoms, even from the other team, make dirty jokes or say something that when I respond is a “that’s what she said” moment. Half of the time, it can actually be quite hilarious. In one game that I actually posted on my blog, some kid said he had to lock his brother out of the room because my voice was turning him on. It is kind of funny! But there is an underlying issue with this. Apparently video games are teaching young men that it’s okay to talk to other females like this. It has become okay to overly sexualize and make a woman into an object just from her voice. And of course, I cannot really ask them to stop this banter because if I do, I will be labeled in a negative sense.

This leads to the hate aspect. In some moments when I have told people to buzz off with the weird comments, I then begin to get called all sorts of ridiculous names. But this is kind of a rare occurrence. What happens more often than not is that I take all of the blame. “She is a girl, she is playing support, she’s the inferior sex, she is not welcome in our community, I will take all of my frustration out on her”. Or at least, that feels like the train of thought for me. For example, the other night I had a terribly awful day, I decided to play a game of Dota after work. I also have been trying to get into Twitch streaming more, I stupidly announced to the team that I was doing this. We lost the game, who gets all the blame? “Yeah you think you’re so good at this game twitch whore? We lost”. Exact quote. So as much as some of the playful sexual banter can be fun, sometimes people get too heated (as they often do in Dota), and it becomes too much.

In all honesty, this kind of reaction is very hurtful. It really does sting. Here I am just trying to have a good time and play a game and people just cannot allow you to do that because of your gender. It is very bizarre. I don’t understand why female gamers are so unaccepted in the community. Is it challenging a manhood in a way? Am I a threat?

Quick mood lightener: how it feels to be just constantly berated by your team mates for being a female:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyiO72CP6Dg

The final reaction, and obviously my preferred is the supportive one. I have made a few friends through my various Dota games with the boys and men who actually just have a good time in the match with me. I have two friends who are 15 year old boys from who-knows-where, and they are generally within this category. We teasingly message each other whenever I log into steam, “reported, not on Dota”. However, even these two goof-balls can border into the sexual category as well. They too have teased me, made me walk into awkward jokes, and picked on me for my sex. Yet, I still play with them and just make the excuse that they are young and dumb and therefore do not have respect for other women. But this should not be an excuse I have to make.

Being a female gamer, I always feel like I must prove myself to my male counterparts. It is kind of twisted. Why should I be judged on my performance in a game, based on my gender? Why should I be excluded or treated any differently? Quite frankly, I do know that I play Dota better than some of the guys I often play with. I know that for a fact. But apparently your skill level gets overshadowed when you are different from the standard. I honestly hope that with more and more women getting into gaming, we can have a more balanced or at least a more accepting environment. As I did say before, the bulk of this community within Dota doesn’t seem to care. If anything, they try to play better to impress me. However, in Dota as well as anywhere, there will always be the odd ones out who choose to make life difficult for others, and especially us females.

But from a girl to a girl, do not be afraid to play what you want to play. Do not be afraid to communicate with the other players by whatever means you see fit. Usually, talking over mic is what is most convenient for me and so I choose to do that. Don’t let the silly smelly teenage boys spoil your fun.

Side note: If you want to form an all-girl Dota team with me, I would be down. 

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