Playing as Women. Playing as Ourselves.
[Image] A woman viewed from behind, in front of a large screen. Her arms are raised. In one hand she holds a console controller and in the other she holds a keyboard.
[Caption] As of 2013, 45 percent of all gamers are women.
[Image] A man, looking at the reader. He is wearing a T-Shirt which says “League of Duty Craft”
[Caption] We’re more visible in some genres than others, which makes people think we’re not playing certain games.
Man: Where are all these women? I don’t know any women who play the games I play. I don’t see women in MY games.
[Caption] We’re here. We play. But we also know what will happen if we use our own names, or speak in our own voices.
[Image] A woman sitting in front of a computer, with her hands on the keyboard.
Computer: A girl!
[Image] The same woman still sitting in front of a computer. She holds her hands in front of her face in a defensive manner, and looks away from the screen. Text is shooting out of the screen, overlaid so thickly that it looks like black clouds.
[Caption] We’ve been harassed, propositioned, and threatened with rape. We’ve been called “whore” just for saying hello. It might be easier to stop playing, but these are our games too. These are the worlds we love. So even though the threat is there, we can’t stay away. Respect isn’t something we can count on, so we’ve resorted to flying under the radar.
[Image] The same woman at the computer, but now she is hiding under the desk, peeking her eyes up. Her hand is still on the mouse, and she raises a finger in preparation to type. Right above her head is the black cloud of text, which has grown. In the middle of the cloud are the words “Misogyny overload”.
[Caption] We hide
[Caption] In public settings, players are often assumed to be male until proven otherwise. As long as you don’t do anything identifying, you’re “safe’. We all know the drill.
[Image] A simulation of a character screen from a video game. The character is a woman, labeled “Gamergirl”. She is smiling, and looks confident. She is holding a sword, and wearing a headset. Next to her in an equipment menu are a helmet, a shirt that says “Dudebro 02” and a pair of pants.
[Caption] Being ourselves means getting harassed so we can’t play like this.
[Image] The woman character, turned around and reaching up to erase the character name “Gamergirl”
[Caption] Instead we choose a gender-neutral screen name
[Image] The woman character, now called “Somebody Else”, reaching into the equipment menu, pulling out the shirt and stepping into the pants
[Caption] Don’t correct people if they call us “dude” or “man”.
[Image] The woman character, no longer holding her sword. She is wearing the “Dudebro 02” shirt. With one hand she is putting on the helmet over her face. With the other hand she is throwing down her headset.
[Caption] If asked why we’re not on voice chat, we say the microphone is broken.
[Image] The woman character – “Somebody Else” wearing the helmet over the top half of her face, posing with her hand on her hip.
[Caption] We play anonymously. We play silently.
[Image] The woman character, holding her helmet in one hand, and the sword in the other. She looks sad, and her shoulders are hunched. She is still wearing the “Dudebro 02” shirt.
[Caption] The alternative is riskier. You can be brave and speak up. Depending on the luck of the draw, the allies in your group might outnumber the jerks. But not always. Not often. You tell yourself that you’re not helping, that if you just weather the abuse for long enough, things will get better. Eventually they’ll see you’re a good player, a fun player, a player worthy of respect. You tell yourself that if you don’t speak up, you’re not fixing the problem. But we’re not the problem.
[Caption] We know that talking smack is part of the culture. But that’s not the same as insulting people’s identities. You can play rough and be competitive without driving others away. We’re not asking for anything special. All we want is to use our names if we want to. To be ourselves if we want to. To make friends. To speak.