Be warned, language gets a little foul.
Alright, let’s get this started.
Heck, where do I start?
My name is Shayla and I’m a 21 year old from Canada. I work full time as a hospital dispatcher and, well, I’m a huge gamer. I basically live and breathe gaming to a slightly questionable extent. If anything, you’d figure if there were any issues that needed to be brought to light, it may be that sometimes I sit down to play a game and don’t move for hooooours. Or maybe that during my last set of four days off, I left the house a total of twice (once was just for coffee) in between playing Resident Evil 6, Skyrim, The Walking Dead and reformatting my PC so I can play Dishonored. There’s also the fact that I spend a ridiculous amount of time and money hunting down and collecting all kinds of gaming doo-dads. Or, perhaps, that I like to spend some of my free time hand crafting costumes of fictional game characters. But, nah. None of these are ever really mentioned in a negative way. Of all the things that could stick out like a sore thumb about my character, it’s not any of the above. You know what it is?
The fact that I’m a woman.
I can’t believe I even have to say that. It’s literally grating on my nerves right now just having to write this.
It’s not a new fact that women have a very strange place in the gaming niche. They get discriminated against left, right and center for simply being a girl. And just as easily as they are put under negative light, they can be put up on a pedestal. Why is that? Apparently, gaming is a man’s world and women are these rarities that are to be analyzed underneath a microscope. And, dammit, it’s not a man’s world. It’s far from it and the number of women playing games has skyrocketed in the last few years. Some of the most influential people in gaming are women. Gaming has easily become a hobby and love that fits both genders just fine. Despite that, women who openly say they game generally get hit with backlash. They’re harassed in multiplayer games, their photos are passed around social media sites that brand them as attention whores, their videos get crude comments regarding their gender, their Tumblr accounts get messages ridiculing them and so on and so forth.
What does gender have to do with gaming? Seriously. Someone needs to tell me because I’m clueless. Is there something I’ve missed? What about gaming makes it an exclusive club for boys? Oh. Here. I figured it out.
I know it’s just so utterly surprising, but women’s interests have broadened from taking care of children and learning the ways of the kitchen. And to think, this has been happening for a really long time. Progress, my friends.
Having been raised on gaming, this topic baffles me. There wasn’t a problem when I was three years old playing the Sega Pico. Or when I was five on the Sega Master System and the SNES. Not at six when I was playing Resident Evil and getting my first Playstation. Nope, not even at eight discovering the wonders of Zelda on the Nintendo 64 or ten and falling in love with the Playstation 2. Even when I was going through my first phase of PC gaming, playing the likes of Starcraft and Half Life there weren’t any problems. Nobody questioned me for liking games or judged me. So now, being an adult with so many years under my belt of people not giving a single shit, I’m left here wondering what the Hell happened.
I’ve had my share of moments of harassment via online gaming, I’ve had people doubt that I’m a “real gamer”, and I’ve had incredibly rude anons who decide they wanna get on my case. In the big picture? I haven’t gotten hit with a ton of negativity and I’m lucky for that. Even so, does that make it less irritating to me, or make me tolerant to this crap? Nope. I’ve seen way too many women get shit on over this bull. I find it incredibly rude when people feel the need to give me or anyone else the third degree in order to test our gaming knowledge. Sure, there are plenty of people who ask me for the sheer sake of conversation, but I can tell when someone is trying to grill me to see if I slip. That’s really just ignorant. My dream job is to work as a gaming journalist. Do you know what I do in the spare time I have? I’m either playing games, or reading about them. Games are a very solid part of my life. And I’m not a special snowflake; there are so many other knowledgeable women out there aspiring to be part of the gaming industry. It’s not surprising anymore- at least I sure don’t think so. Our vaginas have nothing to do with it. And whether or not a girl is a “hardcore” gamer or a “casual” one? It doesn’t matter. They’re a gamer. Don’t even get me started on that.
Why is it necessary for women to prove themselves before they can even be “accepted”? A girl could own every system under the sun with a multitude of game genres she loves and she’d still get questioned as a gamer. Some guy who only owns an Xbox and plays Call of Duty titles exclusively is more than welcome to the club without so much as a second glance. Not pissing on Call of Duty, but hopefully you get my point. And I really don’t wanna hear that “What if they just want attention?” argument. Who are you to decide who someone is based on a text post or a photo? As if men are above trying to get into something to impress someone. More importantly. Why does it even matter? Why are people so concerned and wrapped up in what other people do? Why does anyone have to prove themselves over anything?
The people who go out of their way to single a woman out for being a damn woman need to be ashamed of themselves. There is absolutely no reason this needs to be happening. What about having girl parts makes it not okay for us to game? Just like there’s an array of male gamers out there, with all kinds of different gaming interests, there’s the exact same with women. Some like casual games. Some like MMOs. Some like PC. Some like console. Some like FPS and others prefer TPS. Some love survival horror and others are RPG exclusive. And so on and friggen so forth. At the end of the day, do you know what we all are? Gamers. So cut your crap.
To me, gaming has always been about having fun. Having fun, exploring new worlds, making friends, and all that other heartwarming goodness. This love of mine has been a way for me to escape, and at the very same time, connect. I really enjoy sharing my love of gaming with other people and it’s a straight up bummer when something as dumb as gender has to get in the way of that and twist something fun into something so ugly. What’s it’s become in some of the dark recesses of the internet makes me a little sad. Why are there all these stupid walls? Gaming should be the last thing people use to judge one another with.
Bottom line: Men, stop judging women for having an interest that seems to baffle you. It’s pathetically childish. Having said that, ladies, don’t jump on the bandwagon, either. I’ve seen plenty of women attacking other women over the whole, “Omg you’re not even a real gamer! / You’re just an attention whore” bull, too. Cut it right the fuck out.
I’m here to play. We’re here to play. It’s really as simple as that.