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Posts Tagged ‘gender in game’


Sunday, July 18th, 2010

The world of online gaming (and particularly in-game chat) is perhaps not the most mature of places you’ll find in this world. At best it resembles a school playground, at worst, a lynching. I don’t know if it’s because you have a group of people there for light-hearted fun, and accordingly they don’t take it too seriously and therefore tend to ham it up a bit, or whether they’re genuinely just adopting keyboard courage and trying to antagonize for fun. Whatever the reasoning, it’s something we all have to deal with. There are jerks everywhere in this world, and the online gaming world is no different. Whether you have an accent, can’t speak great England, or are one of those allusive “girls” on the internet (OMGHAI2U), there are times where you’re going to be picked on through in-game chat. Obviously you can shop around for a server with a better awesomefolk:douchebag ratio, but it is inevitable that while trying different servers on to find the right fit you’ll come across immaturity, racism, sexism, homophobia and explicit language.

I’ve been asked a few times if my gaming experience is different online because of my gender, and to be honest I think it’s different for everyone that isn’t your everyday white dude. If there’s something that makes you different, certain people will hone in on that and kick the can a bit. For those like me with a thick enough skin to be completely at peace with telling someone to go fuck themselves, I don’t mind so much. It’s par for the course really. But not everyone is built that way, and even then there are some days when I just can’t be bothered with the “OMG ARE YOU A GURL!!!1 Buttsecks?” and just want to play games. Which brings about my confession. Sometimes I play incognito. I don’t think I’m the only one either, I’ve seen many girls playing online with masculine names or no hints towards their gender at all. I turn off my mic, change my avatar and adopt a non-gender-specific display name sometimes. Usually I game as “Coz”, and find this supplies me with sufficient camouflage while “HelloKittyTeeHee” and “SweetiePie1990” are being set upon.

However things might change. Soon I might not get the option to play incognito. This month we’ve seen a bit of controversy over Blizzard’s RealID scandal. For those that don’t know, the Blizzard Real ID system was going to instill a measure that meant everyone could see your real name if you posted on the forums. This was planned to be a way to tackle the problem of forum trolls and general nuisance accounts (instead of, I don’t know, actually moderating) with the hopes that everyone knowing everyone’s first and second names would bring about some accountability and make people think twice about their actions. Great in theory, but not so great when you think of the real world applications. Thankfully due to the backlash Blizzard have changed their minds, saying they will not release people’s real names on RealID. It was never going to be an in-game thing, it was restricted to just the official forum, but it could have opened the floodgates for other games to follow, and for the eventual integration into game play. I’m hoping that never happens.

So while I can still play as whoever I wish, there will be days where I just can’t be bothered with the crap and will be quiet and just keep my eyes on the prize. But I think my days of needing the cloak of invisibility are coming to a close. That which makes me different is becoming less of a rarity. Soon I won’t have to bother, and that pleases me. Let’s all focus on what makes us similar instead of what makes us different. We all love games, so let’s focus on that and get on with it. You think? Awesome. Good talk. Let’s go kill some zombies.

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