Finding Self-Confidence in a Previously Male-Dominated Industry

Women have been creeping slowly into the video game industry since its infancy. While it originally was a boy’s playground, women now comprise 47% of all gamers (thanks to ESA for the statistics), a fairly respectable number. Unfortunately, the time it took us to invade the lockers of gaming has resulted in a conflicted response from the pre-existing player base, particularly in MMOs.

The aforementioned is the focus of countless social studies, many of which I’ll admit are much more in-depth and informative than what I’m writing to you today. However, I write this not out of study, but of experience, like many female gamers do today. What we discuss is a common trend that needs to stop, and it will on two conditions: that women begin to stand up for themselves when harassed online, and also that the male playerbase raises their voice against the boys that initiate such interations. An excellent article written by Ernest W. Adams (an employee of EA) takes on a male perspective of sexual harassment online, and I feel what the author states therein is all too true for the opposite sex.

That said, there are plenty of men online who behave with dignity and respect towards women. Out of the many conversations I’ve had in MMOs over the year, the majority have (fortunately) been nothing but pleasant. However, there remain to this day the players that never truly got beyond the stage where the gaming industry was a men’s clubhouse.

The worst experience I’ve had, personally, was in a guild I briefly joined in World of Warcraft. The guild attracted a number of men from the latter faction; they would repeatedly harass women in the guild for naked pictures and digital sexual favors until they caved and provided them. This is exactly what we need to avoid doing. Women, if you’re reading this, don’t ever devalue yourself to these children – at the end of the day, they’re just faces on the Internet, and they certainly aren’t worth your dignity.

What have your experiences been? Opinions from either side of the fence are welcome here; although this blog focuses primarily on the female experience, it would be excellent to hear from men as well.

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Comments

  1. This is an excellent point. More often than not, I have seen similar cases in my younger MMO days. One of the reasons the cajoling to nudify comes about is due to a number of male gamers who pose as women to get a good giggle or free ingame items. I myself did this for about a week in Ultima and found it rather difficult to wade through the douchebags… So I deleted the character.

    I’m not saying that men should play men and women play women, quite the contrary. What I am saying is idiot parents make idiot children. In some cases, yes it is simply a case of oversensativity… Lets face it, the PC age is making weaklings of us all… But there are far too many people without the social graces to not be a dipshit.

    • Did you ever see the Something Awful article where one of the goons played as a woman in World of Warcraft? It was exploitation from the reverse end, but still hilarious – he ended up getting thousands of gold (in vanilla, no less) out of it.

      I agree with you in regards to parenting. Especially in the case of XBOX gaming, I think most of the harassment could be toned down if parents paid more attention to what their children are saying to other people on their headsets.

      Thanks for commenting, Bill!

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