“You’re a girl? Shouldn’t you be in the kitchen?”
“I bet you’re fat and ugly if you’re playing that good”.
These are all comments I’ve received while gaming, and if you are a woman they probably sound familiar to you too. Teasing can be an unpleasant, but an accepted part of an online gaming experience. Unfortunately for women, that teasing often unnecessarily escalates to bullying and harassment that most male gamers experience less frequently.
Women make up almost 50% of the gaming community. Yet, women are often victims of brutally negative comments and threats because of social stigmas and women are underrepresented in gaming development process. Although there has been progress over the years, there aren’t enough of us out there in the creation of these video games to argue against the unrealistic portrayal of women. We are often presented in games as weak, dependent, sexualized characters with a size 0 waist and back breaking breasts that jiggle more than a bowl of Jello.
Currently, there aren’t enough of us showing developers and authorities how intense and serious this harassment can get. We need more women and men to argue against stereotypes and show that women should be respected because they are just as smart, intelligent, and brave as men. We need female and male gaming developers to take harassment against women seriously and seriously penalize those who do it. Because if we do, this will trickle down to the online gaming community and over time curb abusive behavior.
I listed suggestions for how to deal with online gaming harassment below. Please keep in mind that I am not a therapist, a lawyer, or a police officer. These are simply general suggestions based off my experiences of being harassed countless times while gaming and out in the real world.
What can you do if you are a female gamer and are being harassed in an online multiplayer?
1. Don’t Just Ignore It, Report It
It can be easy to brush off and ignore comments like the ones I listed at the very top of this blog. It is never ok for anyone to be verbally abusive towards you and if you speak up, you lessen the chance of another person from having the same experience you did. The more we push that report harassment button, the more likely developers will have data that makes them aware of repeated patterns of harassment and more likely to provide all players with a safe, enjoyable online gaming experience. Furthermore, please always make sure that police authorities are aware of a situations where you feel you might be in danger. The more we document and tell police we are receiving threats of violence and rape the more likely they are to address the issue.
2. Find an Accepting Group to Play With
The best part of the online gaming community is that there a lot of fun, supportive, like minded people to play with. When you play, try to find a group of players that you enjoy playing that you can trust to not sling abusive comments at you. Friend people that you had a positive gaming experience with and keep trying to make that list of people grow. Having a group of players you can let your guard down with and have fun with is the best part of online multiplayer games.
3. Get Involved
Women need positive representation in the gaming world. Along with reporting harassment while you are playing, email a game developers when you play a game that included negative gender stereotypes and represented women negatively. Tell them you don’t agree with how represented women in their game and that there are negative ramifications to ALL women if developers continue to portray us this way. I know that one person can’t fix all the problems plaguing women in the online gaming community, but I do believe wholeheartedly that there is power in numbers.
What are some suggestions you have for dealing with online gaming harassment?
Do you have an experience you want to share ?
Feel free to leave comments below.