Struggles Of Female Gamers
Despite the ever increasing presence of female gamers, women still find themselves having to deal with sexism in the gaming community. The term “gamer girl”, for example, continues to be used blatantly, as though “gamer” only refers to men.
We spoke to some female gamers in Singapore to find out what are some struggles only they can relate to.
1. Accused of wanting to impress boys
When I first started gaming in secondary school, many thought I did so just to impress my male classmates. Some friends asked if I managed to talk to the few good-looking and popular boys, who were known to be hardcore gamers. Somehow, it did not occur to them that I picked up gaming because of my interest in it. I mean, it’s not normal for people to take on new hobbies just to impress others right?
2. Assumed to be lousy gamers
Qian getting ready for an online streaming session during the Overwatch Singapore Tournament 2017
I once defeated a famous male gamer in a 1v1 match. Before the game, he already knew that I was a pretty experienced player because he watches my live streams. However, upon losing, he tried to give excuses and accused me of getting a male friend to compete against him.
When girls compete in tournaments, we’re always being jeered at by spectators and male teams. They call us “free kills” and if we end up losing the game, they say nasty things like “ez claps” (a term that opponents use to describe how easily defeated a player is) or “Why don’t you go make me a sandwich instead?”
Qian, mid 20s
Whenever I asked to tag along with my male friends to LAN shops, they’d always give me a doubtful look and make derogatory comments like, “You’ll just be wasting your time.” When I thrashed them in games, they would claim that they weren’t playing their best, or that they purposely ‘gave chance’ and allowed me to win.
3. Having to adopt a masculine persona
Whenever I game, I tend to take on a masculine persona. This is because when others find out I’m a girl, they will make comments like, “No wonder she only plays a certain role” or simply avoid allowing me to take on a more aggressive role. As I used to be rather highly ranked, they would also assume that I was boosted—i.e. I got assistance from a more advanced player to attain a higher Elo ranking in the game.
To avoid being recognised as a girl, I resorted to using a male avatar and also tweaked my usual typing style to sound more like a guy. I stopped using emoticons and my sentences were often crafted without proper punctuation. I became increasingly blunt and typed just like how my boyfriend usually does.
4. Being asked to play a support role
Pearly concentrating on a game of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
When others find out that I’m a woman, I’ll be asked to take on the role of a ‘support’. Personally, I play support because I enjoy taking on this role, not because I can only play support. I will usually switch to playing ‘carry’, which is a more aggressive role, only when my identity as a woman is not revealed to the other players. This is because a ‘carry’ usually has the most kills and most guys would not entrust this role to us girls, thinking that we are not as gung-ho as them on the playing field.
5. Attributing a win to pure luck instead of good skills
This [screenshot above] is a good example of how guys will chiong in team plays without following any game plan or strategy. In this particular game, they were the first to die as they refused to listen to my instructions, and I was left to deal with the enemies alone. In the end, I managed to win the match, after having the most kills and creating the greatest damage. Even so, these guys didn’t acknowledge that I helped them to win, but instead attributed it to sheer luck.
6. Assumed to be an otaku
Just because I game, some of my friends automatically assume that I’m an otaku and that I cosplay. This does not even make sense, because Japanese culture has nothing to do with gaming, and being a gamer does not make me a female otaku either.
7. Attracting pervs/potential sugar daddies
I’ve come across many guys who tried hitting on me and other female gamers. In Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) video games like League of Legends (LoL) and Smite, some would even buy us expensive virtual cosmetics using real money. I’d like to think that they’re genuinely nice, but I’m aware that some have ulterior motives and want something in return from us to repay their ‘generosity’.
8. Getting harassed by creeps
Ming Yen after a satisfactory win on LoL
My previous In Game Name (IGN) was the same as my Instagram username, hence others could easily find me on IG. When I first started gaming, I often received multiple follower requests from strangers. They would ask me if I wanted to start a video call with them or meet in real life. There was this one creep who would bug me almost every day, asking if I wanted to be his lao po (wife) in the game.
Ming Yen, 26
9. Experiencing live streaming and microphone woes
I tend to avoid live streaming as I’m always accused of being promiscuous when I do so. I have personally seen other female gamers flashing on live streams to attract male gamers’ attention in order to get boosted or to receive gifts. But mind you, not all girls are like that. I would never stoop so low just to gain favour from these horny strangers.
I became quite insecure ever since I started playing games that have the public voice chat feature, such as PUBG and Fortnite. I am rather highly ranked and whenever I speak into the mic, people either assume that I’m a hardcore 12-year-old gamer or I’m using a male friend’s account to play.
Wen Ying, 22
Struggles Of Female Gamers in Singapore
Gamers are gamers, and we shouldn’t judge one’s abilities based on their gender. To all my girls out there, don’t ever let anyone dull your sparkle because of their misogynistic attitudes. You go, girl!
Cover Image: Source