Friday, May 12, 2017

What It's Like to Be a Woman Playing Video Games

[TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL HARASSMENT, RAPE JOKES]

A player of Overwatch who also happens to be a woman recently posted a video of a 16-minute game, most of which is filled with her team of dudes (one dude in particular) saying horrific sexist shit including making rape jokes, which gets much worse the second she speaks up about it. None of the other players defend her. The closest she gets is one guy saying "careful she might be recording this."

I honestly couldn't watch the entire thing but what pissed me off the most is that they were shitty to her from the beginning, telling her how to play her character and being generally rude to a healer (which in my book is an invitation to let a player go the entire rest of the match without healing, don't be rude to healers), and it quickly becomes clear that they assume that the healer is a woman. There's long been a stereotype that women are more likely to take on "passive" roles like healer in these kinds of games, and statistically, we do. Because A) healer characters are very often female while damage-dealing (DPS) and damage-taking (tank) characters are very often male and B) because men refuse to play healers. Because it threatens their very fragile sense of masculinity.

And if you don't have a healer on your team, you're probably fucked. So as usual, we women have to do the jobs men refuse to do and pick up their slack. Honestly I wonder what would happen if we organized a strike among women gamers. Heal yourselves, shitheads. You probably suck at it since you have no practice and are selfish pricks.

Anyway. The video.

So they assume she's a woman, and then one whiny-voiced little shit on there starts whining that there's no team communication. So people start speaking up a little, including this woman. And right after her voice can be heard for the first time, the SAME FUCKING DUDE who JUST TOLD PEOPLE TO START SPEAKING UP has the fucking nerve to shout over her saying "ANYONE ELSE MUTE MERCY?? HAD TO MUTE HER." Mercy is the healing character in question.

Like, literally, she speaks up and he cuts off in the middle of his sentence to encourage people to mute the lone female player on the team.

This is why women are underrepresented in competitive gaming. This is why it's so much harder for us to be good and to compete. Because we have the extra hurdle of knowing that the moment we speak up, we risk harassment. Because there are so many male gamers out there who will hear a feminine voice and instantly start attacking the perceived woman. Makes it a little harder to want to engage in that "team communication." Many women who play video games and who actually bother to even own headsets that allow them to communicate directly with team members on games like Overwatch report often going silent through entire matches because they hear nothing but male voices and know what they risk if they speak.

This is a stark and troubling example of how women are silenced in every part of society. There seem to be so many men who will react as though bit by the asshole bug the moment they hear the voice of a woman speaking. This includes office environments. That is one of the various reasons we hesitate to speak up and why the gender wage gap persists. And the gap between the amount of money male and female professional competitive gamers make is pretty huge.

Because this:


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