I’ve been gaming since I was three. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve raccoon Mario, ripping out someone’s heart as Kano, exploring tombs with Lara Croft, and shooting people in the knees as Oddjob in “Goldeneye.” I’m also a female. While my experiences are typical, they’re labeled by most as atypical simply by association of my gender - something I’ve always found odd. With the modern age of gaming and the introduction of multiplayer gaming, the fact I was a minority was pointed out to me further by the several aghast males I run into daily who either try to cut me down with sexist remarks or try to jump onto my friends list simply because I have a vagina.
But, I won’t say all men act like this towards me. That’d be completely unfair and just as sexist as some have acted towards me. I’ve made incredible friends in gaming and hope to continue to do so. Nightly, I get together with groups of friends to play rousing games of whichever title has captured my interest at the moment. It’s fun, lighthearted, and an escape from the drudgery of everyday life. -- Then, another female enters the game. By the reaction, you’d think it was like Clint Eastwood walking into a town in the Old West at high noon with pistols drawn! Something about two females in one game can turn very ugly very quickly with seemingly no provocation. The tension can be so thick that you can cut it with the Master Sword.
Take this example: I was playing a game of Monday Night Combat with three male friends of mine. We were having a blast! I was playing as Support and I was on fire. Then, another female entered the game and things took a turn for the passively-aggressive awkward. Despite the fact we were winning and that I was second on my team, the woman insisted on sniping at me through her mic, choosing to give me the pet name “Hon’” when she did. It was only when I called her out on it that she stopped and retreated into silence -- promptly leaving at the end of the match.
Why is this incident important? Because it’s just an example of a common occurrence. This is not isolated. It seems that, all too often, female gamers are attacking one another simply for the sake of doing it. But why? In a community that’s already a minority in the gaming world, why would we want to make playing unpleasant for others like us?
After this latest incident, I went to other female gamers that I’ve known for a while. I should stress that not all women in multiplayer lash out at one another. In fact, I have quite a few fellow female gamers whom I play with. However, they also reported to me that they’ve had incidents similar to mine where women were aggressive and rude for seemingly no reason.
We joked that there was a competition for ‘The Queen of XBOX’ going on that we hadn’t been informed of - that we were all in the running and the only way to win was to be mean to each other. Biggest bitch takes it all. Thus, the ‘Queen of XBOX Theorem’ emerged to explain the odd behavior we’d been encountering.
Joking aside, the issue bothered me. I thought and thought about it. Finally, I believe I reached some understanding behind the whole matter - why these women were acting the way they were.
Gaming wasn’t just an escape for these girls. Being a ‘gaming girl’ was the escape itself. It was something that made them feel unique and special. Being the flirty or badass chick on the other end of the mic gave them a boost to their ego. However, entering another game and finding another girl already there suddenly made them feel devalued. Thus, the answer to the problem was simply to drive off the ‘rival’ female.
This insight made me feel saddened. As female gamers, we should be proud; but not simply because we ARE female gamers. We should be flaunting our kill counts, our levels, and our achievements. Not our tits and ass. When we stop focusing so much on our sex and seeking validation through it, only then will men stop doing the same.
More importantly, female gamers should treat each other with respect. We’re a minority in online gaming and for us to be at each other’s throats over pettiness and jealousy is the true tragedy out of all this. It’s time for us all to put on our big girl panties and show the boys how true women conduct themselves -- with classiness and dignity. We’re better than this, girls.