A question of character
(Does being a girl gamer matter?)
Talk about being intimidated by a 'woman'! A 'girl gamer' no less. Why do some players take exception to being beaten by female characters? Or is it just the active imagination kicking in? Do 'male' opponents really think a girl is behind the character that just whopped their butt? Surly not, because... Girl gamers aren't that good are they?
Unwritten law ^
Is there an unwritten law somewhere on the Interwebz that states in glowy letters that a 'boy' must use a 'male' character and a 'girl' must use a 'female' one? An 'alien' character devoid of obvious render traces. What about a blob of jelly (jello)? Do other players stop and wonder if that blob were a 'girl' blob' and a 'boy' blob? Suppose there was an actual blob of jelly playing as a blob of jelly. Or not. What would that mean?
Rotten apples ^
As usual the few rotten apples spoil the barrel. Most gamers just want to play none the wiser to whether the person behind the controls is male or female. And thankfully most don't really care, even when beaten by 'the opposite sex'. Some do. And as indicated by the title for this article, "A question of character (does being a girl gamer matter?)", it brings to mind thoughts as to why.
During a typical game of Quake 3 Arena, and using one of the female character, Major, the author landed a couple of fluke shots that won the game. The opponent stopped dead in 'his' tracks (Sarge) and posted "...You're a ***king BITCH..!". Now it has to be said that that was not expected. And rather than responding in kind (and dropping to their level), "thank you" was as much as could be mustered. After a short pause 'Sarge' did apologise and the game continued until 'his' ping went south for the winter and 'he' disconnected. Thinking about it afterwards it occurred the incident wouldn't have matter so much had the comment not been so blunt and aggressive. No hint of humour. No originality of thought. The verbal equivalent of a punch to the face. A 'girls' face.
It obviously begs the question as to whether 'he' would have said something as equally aggressive had 'he' been knowingly beaten by another of Quake 3's male characters (or knowing 'he' was competing against another 'male' player). Hossman perhaps. Maybe calling him a "fat b*****d" upon loosing. Bitterman, saying "I hate you" (because he's 'bitter', get it?). Highly unlikely. 'He' would probably have said something along the lines of "I say ol' chap, jolly good shot!" or "t'was bested by a better man-at-arms". 'He' will never know who 'he' was playing either way of course. And as 'he' clearly had a big problem with 'females' it might perhaps better suite 'him' to stick to single player activities where the likelihood of bumping into a 'girl' gamer or female character that can't be controlled is remote.
Brothers know best ^
When mentioning this little incident in conversation it was observed the guy was basically trying to compensate for his loss, the removal of 'his' perceived manhood or warrior status, to what 'he' thought was a 'girl gamer', the only way he knew how, to be sexually aggressive. towards his female opponent He was essentially saying "lets meet and I'll show you who's boss". Not exactly an outstanding example of maturity, never mind manliness. And in all sincerity, is this what real girls have to put up with to play what is after all, a virtual game, in fictional Universe, using digital bits and bytes that don't exist? Makes no sense.
Can't we all just get along? ^
Can't we all just get along. Girls play games. Boys plays games. Lets just play games together and enjoy the mutual challenge, meeting and chatting with fellow online gamers who share the same passion and all the other things that accompany community gaming. Being bombarded with sexist, racist, and all the other '..ist' words the disturbed mind can think isn't really fun. And in the end those that do only have their own company to keep, as exciting as they think that might be.
Girl only gaming comminutes ^
When incidents like this happen who can blame 'real' girls for seeking out or setting up 'girl gamer' only communities, sites, servers etc. But then, whilst it's wholly justifiable, it doesn't address or especially solve the broader problem, rather it just isolates and (possibly) marginalizes differences. To win this one we need to be inclusive but mindful, not to be 'White Knights' or 'Dames' (female equivalent of a Knight in title), but rather to pull people up on inappropriate or generally disrespectful behaviour instead of monitoring for anything necessarily gender directed.
This might be good cause to make that jelly blob character using Blender or gmax!
[updated May 2014]