What are the Harsh Realities of being a Gamer Girl? A Personal Perspective

gamer-girl

Being a gamer girl is like being a unicorn on the internet. You’re considered rare species, but of course this doesn’t exempt you from being the constant target of bullying and harassment.

For a lot of girl gamers, dealing with stereotypes can get mentally draining. Even if you play a game because you actually love it, some people will still think of you in a negative light. They might even claim you play a certain game just because you want to impress the guys.

That’s not all. Harassment exists in various ways for a lot of gamer girls, and we’re here to talk about some of them in hopes of raising awareness:

1. Encountering sexist comments

There were countless times I was bombarded with sexist comments (both on chat and voice messages) while playing video games.

Once the enemy team knows my gender, from my icon or when I turn on my in-game microphone, some players find it amusing to make fun of “me being a girl” and say demeaning remarks.

I wouldn’t go into further details because I usually just ignore these comments in matches. While I believe they do not deserve my time, it’s sad that I have to develop this kind of mentality if I want to keep playing the video games I love.

There’s no stop in sight for demeaning in-game comments and remarks. Whatever game you play and whoever you play with, you are bound to meet players who’d bravely degrade you based on the fact that they remain anonymous online.

2. Blame the lose on me

One time we were tilting hard on a match, (in case you missed it: tilting means we were losing behind our enemies) and one of my teammates had to ask if who in my team brought their girlfriend around to the match.

Truth is, I queued on my own for the match. I was able to reach that level from my own hard work and perseverance, but when things go wrong some people still find it easy to find someone to blame.

I get it, it doesn’t seem too realistic to even think of a girl getting that far on video games without the help of someone else. However, gamer girls exist. We’re real and we can play along the likes of our male counterparts.

The funny thing was when the match concluded, the guy who underestimated me performed worse than I did. Hopefully he learned his lesson the hard way.

3. Object of ridicule

Gamer girls are often the favorite subject of ridicule. For instance, this trailer for a new FMV game involving a so-called “gamer girl” contains flaws only a true girl gamer managed to point out.

Pokimane, Twitch’s number 1 female streamer, took to Twitter to point out what was wrong in the said teaser trailer:

“gamer girl”

>pretends to play scuffed mario kart for .2 seconds”

She further clarified that she has nothing against girls who call themselves gamers. Instead, she was directing her annoyance towards game developers or publishers (presumably men) who create games based around gamer girls when in fact these characters almost have little to nothing to do with video games.

“i wanna clarify imo anyone can refer to themselves as a gamer, idc if you play candy crush casually or are a professional cs go player.

however, i do think it’s lame that the developers/publishers want to title it “gamer girl” when it has almost nothing to do with games.”

4. Sexual harassment

Recently, dozens of women in the gaming industry speak out about sexism and harassment. Involved gaming companies and streamers promptly responded with action. This may just spark the beginning of a big change in the male-dominated gaming scene.

Sexual harassment doesn’t just happen based on physical touch. It also involves any gender-based discrimination and harassment. As I’ve mentioned, I often deal with in-game messages and comments that are borderline sexually aggressive, if not fully a low blow at all.

If small-time girl gamers like me often have to deal with disgusting comments, what more for big-time names in the gaming and streaming industry? I am glad to see the out pour of personal stories from gamers and streamers who spoke their truth of experiencing sexism, bullying and abuse.

It’s because of this movement that content creator Fedmyster was removed from the OfflineTV squad, shortly after he was exposed for making unconsented sexual advancements towards fellow members Yvonne and LilyPichu. He was also proven to have emotionally manipulated Pokimane, which is totally something a true friend would not do.

Thankfully, the remaining OTV squad members seem to be doing well as they move forward from all the recent controversies.

5. Aggression from another female

I remember the days I was often inviting my friend to join me for a couple of matches, only to be bombarded by angry messages from his girlfriend. Yup, you can just imagine my confusion right then and there.

When a girl asks a male player to play together, it’s often seen in a bad light. Some gamer girls are perceived to be “e-thots,” a term coined by those who think every woman on the internet is sexually deprived and are only into making bad decisions.

Of course it was only right that I take a step back and respect the relationship. As much as I want to play with my friend, it wasn’t fair if his girlfriend was feeling uneasy with the thought of him playing with me.

6. Work twice as hard as your male teammates

Your male teammates probably started playing FPS games at an early age, hence they’re exposed to the different gun types, ammunition, and the like. This is also true for other game genres like MOBA, RPG, etc.

Gamer guys start young. For girls, it’s rare to have parents who support you into playing video games for a hobby. Perhaps it’s because of society’s standards, but most gamer girls have to work twice as hard to keep up with their male counterparts.

If you want to keep up with your male in-game friends and be on the same competitive level as them, you might have to practice and hustle hard on a number of practice matches.

7. It’s easier to just hide your gender

Since gamer girls are easily the target of overwhelming ridicule, it’s easier to hide behind a generic icon and turn off my in-game microphone in some of the games I play. That way, my teammates or the enemy team won’t use my gender as a basis to blame or target me for basically anything that happens during the match.

It’s kind of sad to think about, though. There are times I am proud of myself for carrying a team of random male players on pubs, but I can’t totally claim it was because of #girlpower that I did it by myself. Nonetheless, these are small moments of victory I will continually cherish.

8. You have to maintain privacy

There are times when random players ask you for your personal social media account outside of the game you play. For your own safety, always remember that you’re not obliged to share your personal details to those who you play with.

Unfortunately, there will always be creepy people in various multiplayer games who will overstep their boundaries. As a female, people may get attached to you if they see you as a friendly person— disregarding the space you need to keep your life as private as it can get.

Be careful who you share your personal information with!

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9. Facing the wrath of gamer gatekeepers

Gamer gatekeepers tend to be cautious around gamer girls. They believe video games remain to be an interest solely by boys, and those girls who claim to be the same way are just pretending in order to be liked more.

Sadly, such kinds of people still exist in the gaming community. Female gamers exist in the same space as they do, and they genuinely share the same interest and passion when it comes to gaming. But then the identity of a “real” gamer has been so exclusive for years that the idea of including more women can shake its foundation.

10. They’ll call you a poser

Since “gamers” usually do not have enough female representation, it’s easy for someone to think you’re using another person’s avatar as you pretend to be a girl in-game.

I kind of think this is flattering, though. When other players think I’m as good as a typical male gamer, I don’t really mind it when they call me a fraud. But then it’s still funny that they do not consider me as one of them. Yes, hello. If you played with me at some point in any game— I am the cute girl on my avatar. That’s me!

11. … Or you’ll get hit on

In some of my matches, I’ve been asked if I have a boyfriend or what’s my preference in guys when the players know I am a girl. Some players seem to forget that girl gamers play the game for the same reason most other players do… to enjoy the match, improve their in-game skills, and play for fun. They’re not playing the game in hopes of turning it into a dating site.

Whenever I come across these types of comments, I just ignore them or better yet change the topic completely. Thankfully they do not mind when I do the swerve. There’s always another thing to talk about, such as offering good loot or asking where are we dropping, boys?

12. Get used to the funny looks

This happens in real life, especially when you drop by a game store and check out new consoles or game titles. Sales assistants may even ignore you and proceed to entertain the closest male in the shop.

Even if you’re the one asking the important questions, shop employees may tend to direct their attention to your male friend or brother. Basically any male within range— because they believe they’re far more likely to buy something from the store.

Try not to take it personally, though. In some cases, they might just think you’re buying a present for someone else (most likely a male who’s into gaming). They might even assist you in the process and ask you for preference. Male gamers dominate the gaming scene, so it’s normal for society to be conditioned to think all or most gamers are boys.

The downside of being a gamer girl

There are downsides when it comes to being a gamer girl whether on a casual or professional level. Even if it sounds like the dream of many, myself included, there are still issues arising out of playing video games for a living— much like any other job there is.

For one, these pro gamer girls deal with subtle jabs to full-on death threats on a regular basis. You can just imagine all the messages they get after gaining exposure from professional gaming. People all over the world, anonymous or not, flood them with messages of all sorts. It may be words of positivity or just full-on threatening.

It can take a mental toll on someone to deal with these messages ever so often, so professional gamer girls have no time to be sensitive. Sometimes, they have to ignore their feelings and pretend like everything’s all right especially if they are streamers.

Such was the case of Twitch star Jinnytty, who broke down in front of her audience after viewers requested that she “take her clothes off.” She’s made a name for herself on the platform from her gaming and Just Chatting broadcasts.

It was making her uncomfortable, and as much as she wanted to ignore the requests— she couldn’t help but cry foul when asked to show more of her skin in a Final Fantasy cosplay outfit.

With visible tears on her stream, she had to abruptly end the broadcast one hour earlier than what was initially scheduled because she felt that her chat was “humiliating.”

“I’m not comfortable wearing something that is too exposing or revealing. You guys already know that I don’t like showing myself too much on stream.”

“I was already doing this [dressing lightly], and then you guys were basically telling me to ‘show more’, ‘take the clothes off’. Why do you say that? It’s so humiliating.”

This is not the first time for the gamer girl to deal with persistent online trolls on her chat. While she was able to ignore it in the past, she felt the need to take a stand this time around.

“You guys say a lot of stuff, and troll me, and I don’t feel sh*t. However, this time, I don’t know why, but I tried to cosplay for stream, and I felt like so many people were telling me to just take more clothes off. I’m not your stripper dude.”

The online world isn’t exactly a safe haven for everyone, most especially to women. Female influencers, streamers, and gamers are prone to harassment and are the favorite target of cyberbullying.

Take Alinity for example, who also broke down in tears due to the overwhelming internet hate she receives on a regular basis.

The Twitch star is a famous target for many online trolls, who consistently throw hate her way because of her controversy-filled track record. But just like any other social media personality, there’s only so much one can take.

She’s known to act cool when trolls go after her, sometimes replying with a sassy comeback or just plainly ignoring them. But Alinity revealed internet hate does affect her personally even if she doesn’t show it to her audience.

The harassment she’s gotten over her past mistakes and controversies reached the point where it’s too “overwhelming.” She explains:

“The s**t you guys say really affects people, okay? You guys have no idea how many times I’ve wanted to kill myself. How many times I’ve spent my entire night, trying to figure how I was going to end my life. I just want you guys to know, it’s really serious. You guys can’t just send hoards of hate towards somebody without it having an effect on a person.”

“I just wanted you guys to know that no matter how strong a person appears, this s**t affects them, okay? There are some days [that are] harder than others, and I know that I appear really strong, but this really affects people. It really does”

Apparently, it’s not only the audience who ridicules Alinity for being a magnet of various controversies. Even ex-Mixer star and fellow streamer Ninja took a jab at Alinity’s animal abuse controversy after joining xQc and Ninja’s argument and making a joke about Team Ninja losing.

Ninja replied with ‘Don’t you have another cat to abuse,?’ pertaining to a past on-stream scenario where Alinity was caught tossing her cat.

With this, Alinity fired back by saying the Fortnite pro had “no class” and even branded him as “the most toxic person in gaming.”

The two later deleted their tweets and issued an apology after some time of reflection.

What the pros feel

When it comes to playing video games for a living, professional gamer girls actually deal with additional obstacles that their male counterparts might never experience in their career.

For instance, Stephanie “missharvey” Harvey, a pro eSports player and a video game developer, says in an interview with BBC that there are things she had to overcome after playing for female teams and winning six major international competitions.

“I’ve been doing this for almost 15 years now, and when I started it was extremely male-dominated, especially in pro gaming – it still is. On the circuit there aren’t that many females. But the arrival of new games, new communities and just overall society changing and evolving throughout mainstream video games, is bringing a new wave of players. Fortunately for everyone, there’s a lot of females involved.”

It just goes to show the challenges waiting for female gamers who are aiming to make it into the professional scene.

Another gamer slash Twitch streamer Leahviathan broadcasts around 6 hours of her gameplay footage daily, but she has her thoughts on why the term “girl gamer” is perceived in a rather negative light:

“It’s the stereotype of a gamer who isn’t there because she’s good at games or enjoys games; she’s just there because she’s trying to impress guys or something. It’s not true.”

Because of direct audience feedback through the chat feature of her livestreams, she admits how it’s not always positive messages she receives:

“You often get negative comments about being a female. I do a lot of promotional materials and I’m constantly told that I’m just there for representation really, just because I’m a female, not because I have any merit as a gamer.”

Trolls went on as far as telling Leahviathan to “get cancer and die.” After promoting a game her audience didn’t like, some even made rape threats.

How does she deal with the toxicity? She’s grown pragmatic at this point.

“They bother me, but I know by and large, they’re not real. I try to just separate them from the reality of what I do.”

Since gamer girls are often the favorite subject of online harassers, it’s nothing new to see some female players get used to the treatment.

 

Contrary to popular belief, being a gamer girl is not all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes, it can even be the reason for in-game harassment that’s totally uncalled for.

The gaming industry is still far from becoming a total safe space for female gamers like me, but fortunately there are still a majority of players who know how to respect women.  I’m always thankful for my fellow gamer friends who never made me feel uncomfortable.

Regardless, girl gamers persist amid all the challenges along the way. Everything we do, it’s all for our love of video games!

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