How to be a female gamer surrounded by dudes

“It’s a hard knock life, for us”. There is this mindset in the gaming community, that if you are a girl (or a kid under twelve that sounds like a girl), you are a victim. But there are two ends of the spectrum for us ladies; either someone has the audacity to call us out for not being the kitchen and/or offend us with a slurry of offensive female stereotypes (because obviously, female skills aren’t up to par with males) or the guy that thinks you are a prize that he must win and pulls out all the stops to win your heart. Don’t get me wrong, there are some one-off occasions where you will play with someone who you get along with so well you are accepted as one of the boys #rareunicorns.

More often than not, girls are depicted as the damsels in distress that need protecting from a knight in shining armour, it’s the 21st-century ladies we don’t need saving when we can save ourselves! Yeah sure gender relations aren’t great in the gaming world (or anywhere, let’s be honest), but feminism this and feminism that, you don’t need an article to tell you that we are adults who are perfectly adequate in making the right moves towards positivity.

As a girl who has experienced her fair share of this, here are a few (hard-truths) pointers on how to get out of the woe-is-me pit of misogyny.

They don’t actually know you’re a female.

Calm your farm, I’m not calling you a dude – you just have to stop shoving your female agenda in everybody’s face. If you don’t want to be put down for having lady bits, don’t announce it to the world; ‘girl’, ‘lady’ or ‘miss’ you really don’t need to justify being a female, I highly doubt someone will mistake you for anything other than that. So what if you are a girl that plays games, good work snowflake you are a needle in a haystack; a diamond in the rough.

I understand the need to stand out, especially in a community where males dominate everything (or think they do, I see you girls stepping up in the pro-leagues). I mean if you want to be part of the larger community and not feel like an alien who doesn’t belong there, you’ll have to eventually make your way through and ‘become-one-of-them’ (not that you have to change who you are); the whole, ‘gamer gurrrrlz’ thing is what divides and singles females out, its self-segregation.

Girls usually get more attention than guys.

There’s something about the rarity of girl gamers that just draws guys in, like honey to the bees. Well I mean, females used to be a rarity. The type of attention you get depends wholly on your behaviour, and of course the game community you’re in.

I would say most of us girls try to avoid the attention. We disguise ourselves as dudes and only really reveal our gender when we really need to make a call or communicate. One of my girls isn’t shy at all, but she won’t react to flirtations or shut-downs as a means to be treated equally by our male counterparts. Then there are others who will fish for the attention, who are comfortable enough to flirt and be flirted with. If you like the attention, then by all means, dive deep honey. If you’re comfortable with showing a little bit of extra skin, talking about yourself and basically sexualizing your body then don’t be shocked/hurt about the way someone would treat you when you’re serving yourself on a silver platter for the whole gaming community.

Thicken your skin, don’t take everything so personally.

No one really knows who anyone is online, everything is quite anonymous; so people will twist whatever qualities you show and turn it into an insult against you. If you sound like you’re a kid… you’ll be turned into a little mummy’s boy, someone who sounds like a cliche gamer will most definitely be teased as a chubby virgin basement dweller, and girls… well we get ordered back into the kitchen to make sandwiches etc. Females are a little more sensitive (well more-so once a month) than males ‘surprise-surprise’, so obviously we tend to get a little cut easier than everyone else. If you get affected by it, remove yourself from that community or just get used to it because there is no way you can change it. Gaming is like a bag of salty chips, hold the chips. I’ve found it’s easier to adapt to their ways, and I tend to give back tenfold what they chuck at me, works 99.9% of the time (especially when you talk about lady thangs), but then that’s just me (one of my girlfriends just ignores them completely, she obviously has a lot more self-control than me).

But you know what girls, at the end of the day you just need to know how to rip it up on whatever game you’re playing; no one should be able to talk down to you about how you game simply because your gender/race/age doesn’t fall into the image they set for a gamer. But don’t get me wrong there are perks, sometimes it’s way better being a female gamer than a male (I mean we do get a lot of free stuff).

FYI disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Graphic designer by day, bossanova jazz nu-funk reggae-beatboxin pizza-eating gamer by night; serving up some 21st century realness. I am on an indefinite mission to make boys cry (in CS & League & irl), take over the world (I have traveled nine countries thanks to Google Earth) and build my teaspoon collection (current count: 2). I inhabit other parts of the internet too.

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