From my Gameboy in kindergarten to my Disney.com days in elementary school, video games have always been an integral part of my childhood. However, since I have been immersed in the digital world for this long, I have gotten to see both the good and the bad sides of it.
When I was younger and played played limited text-based online multiplayer games, my gender was never a problem since the games were communities in which players would help each other. Through these games, I was able to forge friendships and learn the importance of cooperation to achieve a common goal at a young age. As I grew older and shifted towards different game genres, I came across a barrier that I thought was only beyond my screen.
I began to play a team-based, first-person shooter when I was around 13 years old. In this game, players had the option of utilizing voice chat to communicate for a greater chance of success in the team-based objective. By social nature, I used the voice feature. When the tides began turning against us, I was blamed for no reason other than being a girl.
Because of this, I felt embarrassed and stopped using the voice chat feature. Flashing forward to when I began to play multiplayer games on my Xbox One, players would be frustrated with my lack of communication since that is often what makes or breaks a match. Despite this pleading, I could not be compelled due to past experiences.
“I never put my voice on when I play video games and usually don’t reveal I’m female,” user Catz1a commented on a YouTube video. “It would really help in team games but there’s this weird feeling that you have to be really good before you reveal your gender or people will often attribute your mistakes to being female.” I always thought I was alone in this feeling, but little did I realize that many, if not most, female gamers feel this way.
Recently, I have begun using voice chat when I play team games since I have gained more confidence in myself as I’ve gotten older. This particularly applies to the popular game Fortnite, where it’s practically essential to talk with your other three squad members.
One time, a young boy asked if I was a girl, to which I replied with an honest “yes.” Of course, admitting my gender instantly made me not another player but solely a female, so he asked for my number without knowing anything about me except that I’m a girl. Gaming as a girl not only reduces me to only that label when playing with guys, but also leads to frequent patronization. Guys will try to do things for me or give me their items just because of my gender when I’m perfectly competent on my own.
On a separate occasion, when the whole team died, a different boy asked if I was a girl. When I said yes, he just said “Figures.” These scenarios are not limited to sexist strangers. While playing a mission, my cousin handed me the controller after he left off in a hard situation. I instantly died, prompting him to say “This is why girls shouldn’t play video games.”
I cannot fathom why assumptions are made about anyone’s skill based on uncontrollable factors such as gender, especially in 2018. Considering approximately 45 percent of all gamers in the U.S. are female, males in the gaming community should have more respect for their female counterparts.
Despite the number of people that claim sexism no longer exists in 2018, there’s obviously something still wrong with our “modern” society if women don’t want to use their microphones just so guys won’t harass them or make rude comments. Instead of telling female gamers to go “make me a sandwich instead of playing video games,” as I and others have been told, male gamers should treat women as any other player since that is what they are.