PAX East: Gaming like a Girl
This is Flaminrain, Stubborn’s other half. He’s asked me to write on the “You Game Like a Girl” Panel at PAX 2013. I think some really interesting things were said during the panel, like the completely absurd tweets that people posted such as that “No one will come to this panel.” Needless to say there is a reason for these types of panels—to have a conversation about how women are treated when they play games. One question from an audience member was why she was not rezzed in online shooters when she told people she was a she. This really happens; women are treated differently. So I would like to talk about three things: the discrimination I’ve experienced being female, a larger discussion of women in games, and this idea of white knights.
Playing as a girl, I’ve had less discrimination than most, but still some. I don’t play XBOX Live, so I am not in that community. But I have experienced discrimination in WOW. I actually created a character named “Genuine” because I was genuinely female. I tried to create a character that looked like me, except of course I’m not that tall and I don’t wear revealing armor. I created this character because I was surprised at the amount of comments that I would get asking if I was a girl and addressing the trolling in general chat that girls don’t play WOW. Most of the time I did not have a problem; guys would ask weird questions—anonymity and no consequences does that—like bra size and are you sure you’re a girl. There are other times in dungeons that people would refer to me as dude or guy, and I would correct them and say that I am a girl—for real. Other than that, I did not frequently reveal that I was female, though sometimes I wanted to say: You were just healed by a Chick. The two other times that I think there has been some weird discrimination is in a guild. Typically when we enter guilds, Stubborn does the research and we apply and then join. We always do it together, so I’m typically known as Stubborn’s wife. (It’s a little weird since in the real world he is often referred to as Mr. my last name, since we have different last names.) So, at times that feels discriminatory; I’m not just Stubborn’s wife, I AM MY OWN PERSON. While Stubborn and I have similar qualities in some areas we absolutely DO NOT in others. Why didn’t people say “oh he’s Flaminrain’s husband?” Why not just treat us like separate people, not that one owns the other. This isn’t due to anything Stubborn’s doing, just the way other people handle us as a couple.
The other major issue that I had was when I came into a raid late because they needed someone to DPS; funnily enough I came on Genuine. I came into vent, but the Guild Leader was apologizing and explaining that actually I couldn’t go because I did not have the correct item level (which I actually did), and thought that I would not put out enough DPS, which wasn’t true; as the raid went on, I was not at the bottom of the DPS charts. In the end, I later found out that it was that the Guild Leader didn’t think I could cut it BECAUSE I WAS FEMALE. What the What? So he was apologizing because he didn’t think that I could live up to the Guild’s needs in a raid even though I met the item level, was available, and knew the fights. What nonsense. Later, I was a regular raider and a consistent healer in that guild and knew that I could hold my own. I constantly sought to improve, asked questions of our amazing paladin healer, and went on raid nights. Thinking back, if I could have done it differently, I would have confronted the Guild Leader and said I can play just as well as the guys. If you are just bringing me along because my husband is playing, that’s bullstankity.
Another aspect of the discussion of women in games is that women are playing games now more than ever. And we do it well. There is a reason some of the best fighter pilots in the world are women; we are calculating, precise, and work for it. It sucks that women have to work harder to play a game because we know that we will be judged because we are women. Why can’t I just play? I have to work my butt off to be perceived as playing and being better than guys, just to prove that I can play the game, which is again bullstankity.
Another idea that was brought up about women in games was Costume Play (dressing up like your favorite characters). Now, to be honest I had some reservations about this discussion because I believe that some of those outfits are very racy and I question why a woman would wear that (this include the picture with the girl in the chain mail bikini, see picture two posts below). The panel gave me a different perspective that these women work very hard on their costumes or spend a lot of money to have their costumes made; they do it because they enjoy it, and they want to represent badass women in games. I respect all of those reasons. I thought that they were originally doing it to stand out, be sexy, and get attention, but the panel helped change my opinion. Now that I have a new perspective on why people Cosplay, I don’t think that I will be as critical as I was before. However there are some things that I would like to bring up in regards to Cosplay nonetheless.
Female characters are unrealistically drawn: giant breasts, tiny waists, unrealistic armor. To be clear, women with tiny waists do not have breasts like that; their spines would snap in half. If I was going into battle or attempting to destroy a giant red dragon, I’d like as much armor as possible to protect myself, but not so much that I can’t run away. Form fitting armor is silly. I think I need my vital organs protected instead of a plate mail bikini. But this is a larger discussion that women are drawn by men (typically); for all those female artists, please work on changing the culture. I don’t look like that and neither does any other female that I have ever met. So let me say, I want more realistically drawn female characters and armor. Others may disagree, I can see that why people like playing their favorite character may be to feel sexy. Feeling sexy is awesome, but is sexy a quality I want on the field of battle?
Lastly, I wanted to talk about White Knights. The Panel was discussing trolls and white knights. White knights are the guys who speak up for women and with women telling others that their discrimination is wrong. But there is a question about whether or not that is patronizing. I’m a chick, I can speak up for myself. I believe the real difference is that when a white knight is speaking up for women and therefore drowns out what the woman herself is trying to say. We want discrimination to stop, I think the balance is white knights are you speaking up for the women or with the women? Speak up with me and support me, don’t speak over me for me. We are not princesses to rescue but are warriors who fight with you to save the world.
Flaminrain (not Mrs. Stubborn)