“Hey baby, why all the aggro?”


And now for something completely different…

 I have a confession to make.  I’m a huge geek.  In fact, I am a gamer geek.  Ah yes, from the days of table top D&D in someone’s basement in high school up unto present times, I have always loved games and being a gamer.  Dragon Con?  Origins?  Gen Con?  Been there, done that, why yes, even have the t-shirts.  From the table top to the larp, from the arcade to the MMORPG, I have gone, seen and conquered.  Street Fighter, Tekken, Call of Cuthulu, City of Heroes, Doom, Gears of War, Final Fantasy, Diablo, Werewolf the Apocalypse…these and many others have seen me get my inner geek on.  I will admit, however, to date I remain WoW free!

 Shoot, I am torn this weekend between real life events and double xp weekend on City of Heroes/Villains…you may not see much blogging out of me when the end of the week draws neigh! 

 But as a gamer geek girl, I want to share a few little observations that I’ve made about the male of the species when it comes to gaming, and I am sure the other gamer girls in the room will know of what I speak…though I am limiting this to MMORPG’s

 Nine times out of ten when the game has customizable costumes and lots of choices in wardrobe, I can tell when a male is playing a female character and when a female is playing a female character.  See, both might make the character attractive, but nine times out of ten, the female player will put her in…ahem…clothes.    They might be street clothes, or super-hero-y clothes, or armor, or military looking gear…but the character is generally somewhat covered, whereas a male playing a female character will often make her as close to naked as possible.  She’s a top dog tank type?  So what, she’s still got a bikini on!  Now sure enough, if you are going to spend countless hours staring at an animated backside it might as well be one you like, but when I team up with other players and one character is a 5’5’ brunette in full tactical gear and one is a 6’0” blonde in a corset and thigh high spike heel boots, I generally can guess which of those characters is actually played by a woman.  Heh. 

 On teams, no matter who the team leader is, who’s quest/mission/instance it is, sure enough, if it is known that the leader of that team is in RL a woman, nine times out of ten some dude will try to take over and call all the shots and dictate how the whole thing should go.  This, my friends, pisses me off big time.  In CoH/CoV I often play with people I know in real life, and in most cases, I have higher level characters and more experience playing the game than they do…but it matters not, even on my missions one of the dudes will feel as though he must step up and run the show because he has a dick.  At this point, I often fail to defend/tank for/ bail them out when shit gets heavy…a few resurrections (which I won’t do on them either) sometimes fixes the problem.  Other times, a firm boot from the team sends the message.

 Often times, I play male characters, and when doing so, when teamed up with people who do not know you in real life, when not using a chat tool like Vent, it is amazing the shit dude players will say because they look at your character and assume in real life you have a penis.  Be wary male gamers, sometimes us girls play boys…and we really do not want to hear about the totally hot chick you saw today and what you wanted to do with her.  This causes RL aggro, which then will be transferred to the game and onto your character.  And if we ever team with your girlfriend?  Watch out…

 Do not assume women gamers want to role-play romance scenarios with you.  I, for one, am there to kick ass and chew bubble gum.  I do not play WoW, but man, have I heard some stories…then again, those elves do dance all sexy like…

 And for all that is sane or holy…

Follow me here….

 You ever been to a gaming con?  As a woman?

What an experience.  Having been to a few in my life, I can tell you that you run into a plethora of dudes who, um, need to get out more…from the guys who are convinced no women can actually game well, to those who want to know where your chain mail bikini is, to those who assume that since you role played with them that you want to fuck them.  It is quite an adventure!  No, not all gamer guys are like this, but dang, there are enough to make them worthy of notice…and…

 Hangs head in shame…

I will admit that I totally won a Gears of War Tournament because the dude playing me had a hard time focusing on anything other than my boobs.  I was in a dang AkiraT-shirt, but all the same…

I now open up the floor to the other gamer gals…what have you noticed when dealing with men in the world of gamer geekery???

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102 comments for ““Hey baby, why all the aggro?”

  1. July 29, 2009 at 12:44 am

    My breasts are not public property and I do not go to Cons so I can wake up to men attempting to rape me in my room while I sleep.

    That’s all I have to say about that, actually.

  2. shfree
    July 29, 2009 at 12:46 am

    I’ve done a LOT of gaming, online, tabletop, and been to Gencon, Origins and smaller cons as well.

    I tend to avoid Roleplay at the Cons just because it is such a crapshoot as to who you are going to be sitting down at the table with, so what I did for years was help run Cthulhu tournaments. Last year I even wrote a round and ran it. I’m not going to GenCon this year, but when I get to go again, I’m still going to run shit.

    I found running a game to be more rewarding. When you have characters’ lives in your hands you get a lot less shit, and by writing a round I was able to incorporate an actual majority of female characters. (they were all pre-generated) I’ve seen only one other game that was female characters only, and that was at a gaming thing held at a friend’s house.

    With online gaming I’ve pretty much stuck to Neverwinter Nights either with small premade modules without a GM or occasionally in a persistent world, because my connection doesn’t like running things. I have a group of people that I would play with regularly, and have even met them at GenCon. It creates trust.

    Anyway, I have LOTS to say on the topic, this is just stuff off the top of my head.

  3. Pega
    July 29, 2009 at 12:47 am


    I personally think the reason most boys (and I do mean it when I say boys, even so-called men turn in to 12 year old boys when it comes to gaming) believe they have to be in control all the time has to do with video games from the 70s and 80s and the joystick.

    Boys have their own built-in joystick, ergo they must control all aspects of gaming all of the time.

    To get serious though (if one can be serious when discussing gaming) I actually play as a male avatar 90% of the time, because I’m tired of the crap female gamers get. And my online gaming ‘persona’, if you will, is as asexual as possible for the same reason. I also have the issue of my kids RPing on the same server, and if I use a male avatar it’s much harder for ‘them’ to catch hell beccause OMGURMOMIZINRINARWEBZ!!!!!!!!!!!111111eleventy

  4. shfree
    July 29, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Oh, I’ve also noticed that as I have gotten older, I get pestered less and less. Having hairy legs and not costuming also helps me move about with little harassment. When I was younger and LARPed I started off with a posse of boys, which initially prevented much harassment. However once people figured out I wasn’t “with” any of them, I got asked out a lot.

  5. Ren
    July 29, 2009 at 1:14 am

    Pega- the joy stick thing? ROFLMAO, and you may be on to something there.

  6. July 29, 2009 at 1:21 am

    I honestly thought I was looking at my CoH feeds when I saw this post. BUT LO AND BEHOLD! From Feministe no less!

    And I do agree with your sentiment on the dudes playing as women – particularly in CoH, its quite obnoxious. My first experience in an SG was when I joined one where its strictly all female toons and in my naivete, I actually believed that most of the players were actual women and that I could connect with as girl gamers.


    It was literally all a bunch of dudes playing as half-naked amazonian toons with the boobs maxed out, “RPing” as women and flirting with each other. There was quite a lot of *giggles* and *huggles* and *meows* in lesbian relationships – not that its wrong, but damn, I felt like I was living in some frat boy’s wet dream.

    As for the leadership issue.. that’s why I ALWAYS play as tank and I am a damn good one at that. Tanks take the alpha strike and set the pace, so if some dude (or anyone really) decide not to follow me or listen, they die. I rather like that set up.

    I don’t normally play as guy toons… can’t seem to bring myself to do it. Mostly because I am damn good at gaming and I want to make sure whoever I’m playing with/against knows that I’m a girl and that girls are kick ass gamers too. Something like that.

    I’ll be going to my very first con next year, so I can’t relate to any of your experiences yet, but I’d imagine that sounds about right having interacted and put up with these guys in online gaming.

  7. Willow
    July 29, 2009 at 1:23 am

    Be wary male gamers, sometimes us girls play boys…and we really do not want to hear about the totally hot chick you saw today and what you wanted to do with her…And if we ever team with your girlfriend? Watch out…

    Or, if we ARE your girlfriend…

    Yeah. That was an interesting moment.

  8. July 29, 2009 at 1:26 am

    This post is so spot-on and is exactly the reason that I stopped playing MMORPG’s. I agree with Pega that many male gamers turn into 12 year old boys when they play (many probably ARE 12 year old boys) and I am not interested in their fantasies and opinions of me. I just wanted to play. I have a 13 year old son so I’m pretty clued up about what’s on their minds!

    It’s not just limited to online gaming… if you ever joined a chatroom (even ones that are supposedly about serious topics) you often run into this childish, sexist insulting attitude. I’ve been told to eff off so many times for challenging them or refusing to talk crap with them, that I don’t bother anymore. I only chat with friends or people I have approved. The internet is so full of this nonsense that I don’t even surf that much on blogs anymore. I stick to reading my blogging buddies and trusted people and ignore the rest of it. Too much sick, twisted racist sexist BS out there.

  9. Croobie
    July 29, 2009 at 1:40 am

    You know, maybe it’s because of the servers I play on, but I really haven’t run into many jerks on CoH. I’ve had a few hitting on my villain toons, who don’t have quite as much fabric in their costumes as my heroes do… and most of those were IC-jerks rather than OOC. There’s also the fact that most people I run with know that my main toon is a slightly-overweight middle-aged woman, which, I have no idea why though, might have something to do with the lack of harassment. (I don’t do MRP. But I get bored with just level-grinding.) I’m aware I’ve gotten lucky in that I’ve not really been harassed, and I have heard horror stories.
    And I don’t go to gaming conventions. I go to a few multi-genre cons, though. Picked up a stalker once, but other than that, no problems.
    And why oh why does double-exp weekend fall on the weekend just before my Calculus final?!?!

  10. July 29, 2009 at 1:50 am

    Random gamer-woman observations:

    I am so fucking SICK of the assumption that when I walk into a game store I’m just in there to pick up something for my boyfriend. Any game store employee that asks what my boyfriend needs or in some way implies that I’m only there on an errand for a penis-bearer loses my dollars immediately.

    I play tabletop – Warhammer 40k, specifically – and I am damn tired of my army being dismissed as “oh, that’s the girlfriend army” because I play the Adepta Sororitas Witch Hunters, the Sisters of Battle. Affectionately known as the “Nuns With Guns”. I play that army because I like the fluff, I like the models, I have a gorgeous Saint Celestine model that I painted myself, thankyouverymuch. Not because it’s the girly army. My boyfriend and I ran my Sisters alongside his Grey Knights in a tournament last year, and we made a good showing of ourselves despite those being two of the harder armies to play effectively in tournament.

    At that same tournament, I was one of three women in the room. One other woman player, and one woman who was helping run it. This is in a room of probably fifty gamers. Sigh. Also I was about ready to STAB the next one of the guys in my club to suggest I wear a low-cut shirt and lean over the table a lot as a “psychological warfare tactic”. Way to suggest I’m only useful as eye candy for distraction purposes, and to hell with my skills as a player. Fuck that, I wore the club t-shirt same as the rest of them. At least they knew better than to try to baby me when we were setting up tables the night before…

    Oh, and another way you can usually tell a male player playing a female character? If the character tries to use sex to help out in EVERY scenario, no matter how improbable, that’s a dude who just wants to make his character have lots of SEX! for him to vicariously enjoy.

    Okay, done ranting. Guess I needed to get that off my chest!

  11. July 29, 2009 at 2:59 am

    I’ve been very lucky because most of my core tabletop buddies are women – it’s typical for a campaign party that we run to have a gender ratio of 50/50 or even more women than men. I’m not sure if this has resulted in a higher quality of gaming, but I have noticed our group focuses a lot more on IC interactions and novel approaches to (both violent and nonviolent) conflict resolution in comparison to other players. Sexism – IC and OOC – is pretty minimal, unless we’re dealing with a game setting that has an explicitly sexist society (which I actually like playing; navigating the customs is often provides fascinating insights).

    When I was at CONvergence I stopped in at their 3.5 DnD game, where the demographics were basically 50% middle-aged guys (with one middle-aged woman), 50% prepubescent boys… and me, a college-aged woman. It was kind of annoying because the older players kept (erroneously) assuming I didn’t know how to play, and the young players didn’t know how to react to a real-live girl in their midst.

    As for video games, I play with the same group I RP with, so – again – either 50/50 gender split or more women than men. But we don’t play online; usually it’s party games such as Super Smash Bros and Wii games or FPSs like Halo and Left 4 Dead. Especially Left 4 Dead – we loooove L4D. I suppose one could say we prefer less “competitive” games, but believe you-me we get damn competitive over Mario Party 8 minigames!

    tl;dr – Most of my gamer buddies are women, and we all (men and women) avert a lot of gamer stereotypes. Does the presence of women prevent these stereotypes, or did the fact that the male gamers don’t have these sexist traits make women comfortable enough to join in? Probably both.

  12. Fire Fly
    July 29, 2009 at 4:09 am

    The last con I went to, I got the same character to play 3 times in a row: young, slim, attractive woman who uses her sex appeal to advance her goals. After that I stopped gaming.

  13. Hazmat
    July 29, 2009 at 4:45 am

    I’m not too into MMOs, but I do run quite a few pen+paper RPGs at the FLGS, and I’ve noticed that women:

    A. Tend to play sociopathic thugs. Problems are always solved with violence. In contrast, there’s been a wide variety of male characters, from sociopathic socialite to sociopathic artist to sociopathic sorcerer. (I’m almost thinking that empathy is mutually exclusive to roleplaying or at least Houses of the Blooded and Bliss Stage)

    B. Tend to be wallflowers. (In conjunction with A, this means they tend towards what we call “the Oddjob”) I have almost never, despite all possible incentives used, seen a woman try to get or maintain the spotlight. Most don’t even go for two die stunts in Exalted, for god’s sake. New male players will occassionally try to play off of them, but most get the hint.

    C. Tend towards “floating characters,” characters that have no social ties to any other characters in the group. If forced into making ties, (ie, Spirit of the Century, wherein you must invent a fictional pulp novel that your character and someone else’s have starred in) then women will always group their characters into a subparty, usually using setting material to justify the choice. (the “bear clique” in our latest HotB game, for example, also tying into A, as the bear house is antisocial and favors the Strength virtue)

    D. Usually (~60%) play male characters. In contrast, I have not ever seen a man play a female character unless there were no women in the group. Even then, I’ve never seen the gender played as anything other than cosmetic, which leads me to:

    E. Cosmetic gender. Men do this when playing as women, but women’s characters are almost always sexless and asocial. This is why we even get women in HotB at all: They can just start the game married, have the spouse manage all the estates, and go out exploring ruins and “resloving” troubled provinces. Trying to put women’s characters in a social situation will start and end in awkward silence.

    F. Infinite tolerance. Men will sometimes say they’re not comfortable playing something (usually Bliss Stage) or playing a certain way (the guys that want less navy fights in our Exalted game), but women do not object to anything ever, even when it’s quite clear that they do not enjoy what’s going on. Asking them if anything’s making them uncomfortable will result a very strong negative.

    I’ve made every effort to show that I do not tolerate sexism OOC, we’ve got a reputation in the store as “that group with all the girls,” and yet we still don’t have women that are actually at ease in anything we play. (one guy asked why the girls even show up if they don’t actually do anything before I told him that I do not allow people to attack other players’ playstyles.)

    I’m not honestly sure what the deal is.

  14. QoT
    July 29, 2009 at 4:46 am

    I bloody LOVE CoX, but you’re totally right, Ren. It’s amazingly easy to spot the guys-playing-female toons. A happy exception is my partner, but even with his 50-odd alts it’s a drop in the ocean compared to max-boobs flesh-coloured-g-strings poorly-spelled-chatroom-name character. He’s the one on the left.

    One thing I’ve never encountered (largely because I don’t play FPSs and I think this is less prevalent on CoX) is the instant “you’re a girl, you must suck” assumption, but I’ve got a few TF2-playing friends who run into that a lot. I mean, who cares about a person’s actual stats, obviously their gender is a better guide to their talent at shooting things in VR.

  15. Dymphna
    July 29, 2009 at 4:54 am

    Always did tabletop and LARP with close groups of friends who knew and respected where I stood on gender issues, so I never really had that problem in person.

    But WoW. Oh boy. WoW. I joined a Christian guild on one server (actually transferred to the server in order to join said guild) because there was an enforced code of conduct and it was considered okay to challenge problematic comments. And for the record, I am not a Christian. I just got tired of comments like “hey, did you hear in the new patch they’re going to start women out with a 400 in cooking?” And the constant sexual innuendos and homophobia and … ugg! Though it did give me a fair amount of hope for humanity to spend time in the virtual company of a lot of very conservative people who were nevertheless mostly fairly groovy about issues of gender and sexual orientation. (though OT Fave guild chat comment: “man, I love my new axe. But not as much as I love Jesus!”; it took every bit of self control I had not to snark on that comment).

    There was actually a lot of what seemed to me to be playing around with gender performance, For instance, males who in RL would feel threatened by obsessing over clothing caring quite a lot about how they dressed their female toon, less in the “make her hawt” way and more in the “make her look like a badass” way.

    Two interesting stories — my (male) partner played a female character (partially with that same “if I have to look at a backside for hours on end I might as well enjoy said backside” justification, though he kept her fully clothed) for many months. When others found out it was a male playing a female, they acted outraged and a few actually challenged his leadership position in the guild he had helped form. Not because he was a guy playing a gal — that’s quite common, as noted in this article — but because he was a guy playing a gal who had not felt the need to assert to everyone that he was actually a heterosexual dude steeped in dudely culture. And because they treated him differently based on the assumption that he was female. For instance, one guildmate confided in me that he felt betrayed because he had defended my partner during an interpersonal conflict with another player and would not have done so had he known that my partner was male. Which, when I challenged him on it, I think actually got him thinking about how he treated women differently for perhaps the first time.

    My partner told me after about four months as an undercover girl gamer that he was shocked (shocked, I tell you!) at the constantly patronizing and sexualizing behavior he encountered from other gamers. I laughed.

    Also, he was frequently propositioned for “lesbian” encounters (one of the reasons we switched off of the RP servers). Which would have involved most likely two men roleplaying having sex with one another as two women. I find that gender/sexuality dynamic … actually kind of fascinating.

  16. Dr. Confused
    July 29, 2009 at 5:01 am

    I have LARPed and I play WoW, but I have never tabletopped.

    LARPing was a lot of fun and there were very few issues with the extremely geeky university-based group I played with. Once I played in a LARP written at another university with no women in the group. I was cast as “the woman.” I had no real in-game goals. I was essentially an object for the male characters to fight over. It was boring. I tried my hand at game-writing once, with someone I didn’t know well. He wanted all the characters to be stereotypes. We decided one of the characters would be an ex-sex-worker, and wow did he ever have rigid ideas about what kind of personality and goals she could have.

    In WoW my experiences depend heavily on whether I’m playing with strangers or guildies. Guildies tend to be respectful and considerate. Otherwise I wouldn’t be in the guild. Random PUGs? How many homophobic jokes can you tolerate? Or rape jokes/metaphors? Sometimes it makes me very sad for the future of the human race.

  17. July 29, 2009 at 7:08 am

    ah, this confirms that my decision to not get involved with gaming is a correct one. the gaming world seems to be populated by rapists-in-training, from everything i hear.

  18. July 29, 2009 at 7:30 am

    You ever been to a gaming con? As a woman?

    What an experience. Having been to a few in my life, I can tell you that you run into a plethora of dudes who, um, need to get out more…

    …erm, my experience is that ANY con is generally filled with a plethora of dudes (and chicks) who need to get out more. I mean, a convention is held for fandom, and fan is short for fanatic. People who have a general interest in something tend to stay away from Cons.

  19. Alex
    July 29, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Fun fact: there is very little customisation available in WoW, so your rules-of-thumb for identifying female-controlled vs male-controlled characters don’t work as well. However, there are many pieces of gear that, say, when put on a male character look like heavy plate armour pants. When put on a female character? Chain maille bikini. Same piece of gear. gg.

    Bravo and amen to your points. =)

  20. Tom Foolery
    July 29, 2009 at 8:31 am

    ah, this confirms that my decision to not get involved with gaming is a correct one. the gaming world seems to be populated by rapists-in-training, from everything i hear.

    No moreso than the real world, or the internet-at-large. This is an unfair generalization.

  21. Zoe
    July 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I am not a huge gamer but I definitely play more than other girls that I know. I haven’t gotten a chance to play many multiplayer games where you can dress up your characters but I can certainly imagine the difference in clothing. I know when I play games like Tony Hawk Underground, I tend to dress the character in a somewhat bad-ass tomboy sort of look, maybe showing a little belly, but mostly clothed, so I think that’s true for me. If I ever end up in a situation where I can look for this phenomena, I’ll definitely be aware.

  22. Bakka
    July 29, 2009 at 8:32 am

    @ Pega r.e. joysticks that is hilarious! I wonder what the new controllers with their small, clitoral-like nubs and multiple-erogenous zone-like buttons says about who should be in control of the mission…

    I was really interested in a Shakesville post from a while ago about gender swapping in games http://bit.ly/Yt5T6 They do an interesting analysis of one study http://bit.ly/3gPJM that asks both men and women about their gender choices in on-line gaming but then seems to draw the conclusions only from what the men have to say about it (gender swap because being a girl is better ’cause you get stuff for free) vs. what women said about it (gender swap to play male ’cause being hit on, patronized, demeaned is annoying). Conclusion: “female persona has a number of positive social attributes in a male-oriented environment”

  23. July 29, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Like Alex says, in WoW, my tank Palidan got a pair of pants that on her was a thong and thigh guards (didn’t even cover the shins!), but if a male character wore it he could sit or kick anything.

    Another thing that frustrates me is when the game *designers* set up in-game events to oversexualize the toons. One in WoW this past spring required people to put bunny ears on female characters level 18 and over (with or without their consent). It was titled “Shake your Bunny Maker.” It was written (and argued about) on many gaming forums and on Feministing: http://community.feministing.com/2009/04/wow-thats-boring-lets-add-sexi.html

  24. CBrachyrhynchos
    July 29, 2009 at 9:01 am

    Just about every time I indulge my instinct to use character customization to create eye candy, I always end up regretting it and spend hard-earned in-game money and time to change the character design.

  25. July 29, 2009 at 9:16 am

    I have, on repeated occasions, had males (both teenage boys and grown men) actually throw down their controllers and stomp away because they couldn’t beat me at whatever game we were playing.

    Cry babies.

  26. Raney
    July 29, 2009 at 9:21 am

    I played a few mmorpg’s. I started with MUDs, then Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot, WoW, and Guild Wars. I like to make a toon of each class, though warriors are my least favorite. Observations of the guys? Some are good gamers and good people, but finding a PUG full of them is next to impossible. The rest of them
    1. rarely make a healer. Healers are fun, especially at high levels when you’re what saves the mission, but plenty of guys don’t find them macho enough. I played healer for many a guild run, and not because it was my favorite toon. Often there just weren’t any other healers on.
    2. are homophobic by reflex, not even thinking about it. In fact, they get defensive when you say something that makes them think about it. Defensive, arrogant, and angry.
    3. are often too impatient to wait for me to pull a mob. When they aggro everything in sight, I just let them die and rez them after we’ve cleared the area. Maybe.
    4. are likely to screw up a mission by being drunk or disappearing to take a leak without saying anything. Ever been in the middle of battle and notice one toon just standing off to the side? Some of the excuses they make up when they get back are enough to make you want to boot ’em irl.
    5. think that ganking and kill-stealing is a sign of being a good player.
    6. like exploits so they don’t actually have to play the game to have a maxlevel toon.

    I could go on, but…

    PUGs suck so much I always had one toon that could be self-sufficient. If no friends or guild members were on, I’d play that toon. ‘Ware the evil PUG! Evil! Evil I tell ya!

  27. Becca
    July 29, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Alex: totally! My bf plays WoW. One day I started up a character just for kicks. I was like, “I’m gonna make her super sexy,” and my bf said “Well, since she’s a warrior, she’ll be covered in chain mail and stuff.” My response? “Uh, no, she’s a female game character, I guarantee it will be like a chain mail bikini.”

    I was right.

  28. July 29, 2009 at 9:28 am

    I play a *lot* of WoW and have for a very long time. When I was a “girl at large” as it were, I had some pretty bad experiences. I actually ended up re-rolling on another server because I was too embarassed to go to a GM about my in-game ‘stalker’ who just wouldn’t take “that was fun, but not really my thing. See ya some time” as a polite brush off and would not leave me alone to the point where I was literally afraid to log on.

    I run my own guild now with another woman as my co-lead and I have to say it’s a pretty great experience. There is what I consider the “baseline” (not to say it’s acceptable – just not glaringly worse than say work, or a dinner with my extended family) of general asshattery, misogyny and homophobia, (“dont be a girl” and “that’s so gay” being pretty commonly heard) and myself, my co-leader and the rest of the women in the guild generally call that stuff out.

    I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been running this guild for a long time, and people in it respect me as a player and a friend, not just a source of bewbs. But I don’t play with people outside the guild very often for that very reason. I’m afraid to associate with the pond scum that may or may not be out there.

  29. July 29, 2009 at 9:36 am

    When you look at the % of female players who play WoW, it’s one of the most gender-balanced MMoRPG out there.

    But Blizzard has a pretty bleak record with stuff like this: apart from the over-sexualized avatars for women, armor options, obnoxious mods like “shake your bunny maker” etc, they’ve actively worked against women and gay equality discussions by shutting down any forum talk designed to address misogyny and/or homophobia in the community. So they actively silence women in that respect and send a message to their community members that anyone who dares speak up about the importance of respecting all players should be silenced.

    I think this is one of those situations where the majority of women who play the game simply don’t care–they’ve bought into the patriarchy, they’re so worried with saving face with the boy players that they don’t make a fuss–and the minority of women who actually do care about this stuff are bullied into silence by the entitled boys and the women who feel they have more to gain by sucking up to them than by opposing them. And women who game who feel uneasy about the inequities see this and are silenced through the implicit threat.

    But whatryagunnado? People who MMO are generally addicted to it, and when you isolate the minority of women who are actually willing to address the inequality, you’re talking about a population that wouldn’t *really* be missed (in business terms) if they took off so long as they stopped stirring up shit.

  30. hecateluna
    July 29, 2009 at 10:11 am

    The only con I’ve been to recently is Origins, and I haven’t had that experience. I’m sure many people do, but I’ve found the guys running and playing the indie rpgs to be not be at all shocked I’m there, and treat me like I know what I’m doing. I’m also often not the only woman at the table. I hesitate to say that the indie community is better, or that it’s because I’m not your standard conventionally attractive thin woman, because I know the indie community is far from perfect, and women get treated this way regardless of how they look and dress. Regardless, my experience playing games at Origins has been nothing but good (I’ve played dogs in the vineyard, with great power, dread, the roach, octane, unknown armies, and several as-yet-unpublished playtests, that I can recall offhand).

    The exhibit hall can be less awesome–I remember a couple of years ago, there was a demo of some game about space combat where you had to do simple vector math in order to calculate targets and stuff. It sloooooowly dawned on the guy demoing for us that I actually knew the answers and simply wasn’t blurting it out right away in order to give my husband time to catch up. I’ve also experienced the “talking past me to my male friend” in the exhibit hall, and “immediately showing me the pink girly thing”.

  31. shfree
    July 29, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I’m so glad I never dealt with WoW or any other paid MMPORG. The harassment sounds miserable, and finding a guild or group that are worth playing with sounds like a major pain in the ass. I think I wouldn’t have the patience to look for one.

    Hazmat, have you ever asked the women who play why they play? Maybe they are just more into the hack and slash instead of roleplaying. It sounds that way to me.

    GallingGalla, my experience in gaming is that the majority of men and boys’ behavior isn’t bad when you deal with them face to face. Yes, there are the poorly socialized sexist jackasses at cons who harass the women in costume, they also exist when these women walk to the convention center where she would also have to deal with non gamer sexist assholes. Sexist assholes exist everywhere. And with online interactions, unless women are part of a heavily moderated community, we are going to have to deal with sexist assholes who take advantage of the internet’s anonymity. It isn’t exclusive to gaming.

  32. shfree
    July 29, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Oh, and I should probably make it clear that I am not giving the gamer community a pass because I see them as being no more prone to assholery as the world at large. It still sucks, we shouldn’t have to deal with it anywhere. My point is just that a person shouldn’t be any more dismissive of gamer culture due to sexism and harassment as they would be to larger society.

  33. Shinobi
    July 29, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I actually am going to quibble slightly with your point about team leadership. I would say that no matter what group I’m in, even sometimes in guild runs 9 times out of 10 some dickhead who is not in charge tries to piss all over everything to mark his territory. This is especially true with lower level PUGs. By the time you get up to high levels everyone has their roles and the Tank is generally the boss. But then you still run across people who feel the need to tell everyone else in the group how much they suck and thereby throw their Total 1337n3ss into sharp relief.

    I am sure that it is substantially worse when the person in charge is female. I wouldn’t know, because I never am in groups where the girl is in charge.

    I in fact, go out of my way to avoid any kind of leadership role. While I am fairly experienced and have been playing WoW since its inception, I just don’t want to put up with the BS from most players. It is just not worth it, though I will occasionally throw down over the blatant racism, homophobia, sexism and just general offensiveness that exsists, it’s a big battle to fight.

  34. Geek
    July 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

    I like playing JRPGs. Alone. I’m considering PAX this year though, but this is a nice reminder to bring my boyfriend along.

    Ugh, so many awful guy gamers.

  35. Tina
    July 29, 2009 at 10:53 am

    While I certainly don’t support everything Blizzard does – they’ve made some terrible mistakes dealing with LGBT issues – I don’t agree that the female toons are necessarily over-sexualized. Both elf races, yes. But there are other choices – I play Taruens almost exclusively, and while my toons do have curves, I’ve never had a piece of gear turn into a bikini on me. Most of my gear is long, flowing skirts and adequately-covering tops. My orc is still low, but she’s also had modest gear so far. And there are other race choices – it’s nearly impossible to tell a female dwarf from a male dwarf, for example.

  36. Shinobi
    July 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Also, I think WoW pr any other MMORPG could be a really interesting forum to run social experiments in. For instance the same raid group, and how do they behave with a male or female raid leader? I’d also love to examine the behavior of the AH, because I’m a nerd.

  37. CBrachyrhynchos
    July 29, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Mighty Ponygirl: You know, some of us work pretty hard to develop explicitly feminist and gay friendly guilds in WoW. Between this thread and comments on a recent Feministing thread, it really seems to me that activism in these communities isn’t respected by other feminists either.

  38. Ren
    July 29, 2009 at 11:39 am


    That can be interesting….in COh/Cov sometimes it goes like this…in my experience anyway…

    I have a male hero tank…people tend to follow his lead. I have a female villain brute..people do not until I let the whole team die a few times then they realize if they want xp they should, oh, follow the brutes lead.

    Many of the people I play with on CoX are cool and very good about “this is a job for – insert archtype-“, but I’ve run into enough that are not it seemed worthy of note. CoX is my main game these days, and I have 4 male characters and 6 or 7 female ones- its odd how some people deal with you- if they do not know you IRL- based on your characters biological sex and appearance.

  39. Ren
    July 29, 2009 at 11:46 am


    I think a lot of women play sociopathic thugs because it, ahem, means they will get left alone.

    I was (am) fortunate enough to play in a LARP game that has a whole slew of really great strong female RPer’s who can take up all kinds of roles, from the killing machine to the politico to the sneaky behind the scenes puppet master and do such things well. Do these players sometimes use sex appeal? Yes, but it is a lot more rare than one would think. And advantage that women gamers have – even though it is sad it is an advantage? Male gamers will always underestimate them.

  40. s.
    July 29, 2009 at 11:53 am

    I recently graduated from wii to xbox. I’ve been playing quite a bit of Halo social slayer games with my husband, and two friends online – one of whom is a girl. The difference in our playing experiences is kind of amazing.

    When she started playing she knew that girls were looked down upon, but she is a pretty awesome Halo player so she referenced the fact that she is a girl in her gamer tag. I, on the other hand, made mine gender neutral for that very reason. Every time we play she gets at least one friend request from every match, while the rest of us get none – big surprise. In order to subvert the norm the four of us now have pink and purple unicorns as our emblem. We get to hear quite a number of gay slurs because of it, so we usually feel even more vindicated when we beat the homophobes and then block them for poor sportsmanship.

    In Halo when you can tell what gender (or species) someone is by their death groan (I know…) also, all one has to do is go to my gamer card to see that my avatar is female. The other day my female friend and I looked at our gamer cards to see how people had reviewed us, both she and I had far more blocks due to “poor sportsmanship” and leaving the game early. The problem is, we always play with my husband and our friend who is male, so theoretically they should have the same number of reviews for leaving a game early (which we have maybe done once). They don’t. They don’t even have one.

  41. beth
    July 29, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I think as far as geeks are concerned, there are some that are better adjusted than others, both male and female, and I don’t think it’s all that different from the rest of society, except it seems to be a bit more in extremes. When geeks aren’t well-adjusted to social norms they REALLY aren’t, and it’s really obvious, and I think those people stick out a lot more in people’s minds than the more everyday geek folk.

    I do a little tabletop RPGs (mostly D&D), play some boardgames, play some videogames (including WoW for 4 years), and I am into comics. I’ve been to PAX a few times, which definitely sounds less hardcore geek than say, something like GenCon. I guess you can say I dabble in everything, but am not really hardcore about any of it.

    Honestly, the most frustrating geek interactions I’ve had as a woman was within the geek social scene in college. Geek boys LOVE to argue loudly, and at length. I can’t tell you how many times I was either talked over, and if I could get a word in, my ideas mostly ignored. After awhile I couldn’t stand it, and told my boyfriend he was welcome to sit with those guys, but as for me, I was going to sit with my other friends. Honestly, in WoW, in our guild forums, through the internet, I felt I have had a much more equal voice in everyday geek discussions.

    While I experienced sexism in the earlier days of WoW that was difficult to respond to, with time I surrounded myself with a group of friends and guildies that either weren’t assholes, or if they were, I could call them on their shit and we could talk about it. Honestly, in MMOs, I think it isn’t correct to necessarily call the men who play these games “geeks.” Video games seem to be a pretty universal interest to many men these days, so in my experience you get the full spectrum of men playing them. I guess what I’m saying is, to ascribe the bad behavior of dudes in games like WoW to them just being a bunch of ill-adjusted geeks feels like you’re giving them a pass in a way, because in reality a lot of the guys I’ve known in WoW have been otherwise what our society would consider “normal guys.”

    On the flipside, I think many of the more “traditional” geeks playing the game were much more sensitive to the travails of being a girl in videogameland (or gay for that matter) or at least more receptive to engaging in intelligent conversation, than a lot of the more manly man “normal” types. I think they identify more with what it’s like to be an outsider. And as I mentioned, geeks really like engaging in debate.

  42. Dymphna
    July 29, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    CBrachyrhynchos, I confess I was ignorant of such guilds. But if I knew where to go I’d totally sign up for that!

  43. Sheniver
    July 29, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    I am also a gaming geek girl – I do not gender bend but I have been to a con or two. I have table topped it all, done COH & WOW – along with Diablo & etc. I will say most men I’ve met at cons & etc – have white knight complexes rather than rapists in waiting.

  44. July 29, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Don’t go to cons, but I have been to a couple industry events. And it is a weird, weird world.

    Keep in mind, I also game while black, so gaming while black and female puts me so far out of the “normal” realm of gamer demographics people just kind of take me as I am.

    Talking about racism/sexism in gaming is also really interesting. You can split it down the middle, but basically its more or less “Why do you dumb broads always complain about sexism?” or “Oh, yeah, we know…it’s kind of embarrassing.” Interestingly enough, I noticed a shift in the attitudes about the place and role of women characters along age lines as well – boys who grew up with Croft have less issues with women leading games than those who came before.

    But then again, one of the guys we were drinking with felt totally at ease calling the waitress “drink wench.”

    But the gaming industry is a whole cluster of strange…

  45. July 29, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    CBrachyrhynchos — you need to level in reading comprehension. The point was that Blizzard itself often is the force that shuts down meaningful activism in the MMO community.

  46. July 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Oh, oh, oh, can a male gamer weigh in?

    Okay, so I have this tradition going back to as far as I can remember customizable characters. I always make my first character a male, but after that, all my characters are female. In WoW, right before Lich King came out, I had 1 70 Tauren male Druid, and 2 70 females and a 40ish female.

    Let me tell you, I found some interesting things when playing my female characters.

    The one crazy thing I found in WoW was how gamers who I assumed where guys (I may have been misconceived as well, but the way they typed and “acted,” they were male) were oddly helpful when they were trying to virtually bang me. I actually found it fairly hilarious that I was being picked up. I always was like “Okay, how do you know I’m a girl!”

    On my end, I really enjoy seeing girls game. I try to get my girlfriend gaming as much as possible (no go for the most part.) But as a former Computer Science major at Georgia Tech, the same stigma of technology and girls exists in gaming and girls. Maybe it’s not so much that girls don’t want to game, or aren’t geeks, it’s that the males create this wall and slap a huge “No girls allowed!” sign on it.

    It can be very intimidating when someone is holding the door open, but is ready to trip you as soon as you walk through… “Suuuuure, come on in girls, game, just be ready to be ridiculed and outcasted as hard as our lungs allow us too.”

    Whatever, this gamer guy says, game on girls.

  47. Ren
    July 29, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Mighty: That is incredibly fucked up that Blizzard roadblocks like that…no doubt thye might change their tune of all the women who played their games suddenly stopped, but I don’t see that happening. But yeah, damn sad when they have to shut down any dicussion of sexism in the game and by the people who play it when, from what I udnerstand, WoW has more women players that any of the other games out there. CoX has a fair amount, but I do think WOW has more.

  48. Nentuaby
    July 29, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    Gender in CoX is indeed… Interesting. I play a gender-balanced stable of toons and, yes, the recognizably human ladies all wear real clothing. Looking around, though, I can definitely tell I’m an exception here… You’re absolutely right, most of the time you can tell which female toons are actually played by women. It’s not the one named “stripperbitch” with her tights set to the same shade as her skin.

    Your commentary actually makes me think back on a few encounters I’ve had while playing those characters, and wonder if sexism wasn’t the cause for them. It’s an odd thought.

  49. July 29, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I’m a longtime gamer. LARP (Vampire, Werewolf), table-top D&D, grew up playing Atari and Nintendo, own most consoles and portable systems, play MMORPGs, etc. I’ve been involved in anime and game fandom/conventions for a long time as well. I’ve had a few creepy incidents with men at cons, and heard of or been witness to it as well. And I work in the videogame industry as well. So I’ve seen gaming from a lot of different perspectives.

    When I play games online, I either play alone (yes, even in MMOGs, I like soloing), or when I have to group, I try not to reveal my gender. It’s sad, but it’s just a lot easier in some ways when people assume I’m male. What’s weird is that when you do play as a female character, many men will assume you’re a woman. When I played WoW once, I was playing a human female (Warlock), and this dude was getting all chivalrous with me, helping me on quests and generally giving me assistance, with the assumption that I was a woman behind that character.

    I haven’t had too many negative experiences of sexism, but in my job, which is a very public role (community management), there are incidents where I am a target of player misogyny. Anything I say or do is scrutinised by players, and if players don’t like what is happening in the game, they often take it out on me, sometimes in misogynistic ways.

  50. July 29, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    It would mean more to Blizzard if all the women were upset at it. But looking at the Blizzard Forum posts about the Shake Your Bunny Maker event, it’s difficult to get a following. One person starts out saying “I don’t like this event because…” For every one person supporting the original poster, you get 10 more people trying to silence them including many “I’m a woman and I don’t have a problem so STFU, you’re being oversensitive and feminism is dead.” … and many of the forum threads where myself and a friend started speaking out and posting lengthy replies were deleted.

    Because of that, like mentioned before, Blizzard knows it has a large enough base that it can ignore the dissenters.

    The reason I have played WoW is because I *know* my guildmates IRL. They have been playing since the beginning, and were trying to get me to play for so long. So moving everybody to a non/less-sexist game (is there one?) is difficult.

  51. Shinobi
    July 29, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Perhaps we should take over Aion immediately with an influx of feminist gamers when it releases. http://na.aiononline.com/en/ I’m pretty excited about wings.

  52. martini_5697
    July 29, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    My experience is mostly with WoW. I have played with the same guild since release, and I chose to game with them because of their respectful atmosphere and rules. I’m now in a leadership position, and we have a fair number of female officers and forum moderators (4 of us in a team of about 10), because that’s a priority for me.

    For the first 7-months or so that I played WoW, no one knew that I was a girl – I don’t give out personal info, so no one knew one way or the other, and I’m still happy that I was accepted just as a person and not as a female-person. Teamspeak and Vent ended that though.

    I still get bugged by some things… my character is a NE, and so I can’t /dance, because the only dance she does is a stripper dance that I *hate*. I’m disappointed that my character can’t ever do a happy dance, only a sexual one. I’m not a stripper, and neither is my character, and I shouldn’t have to act that way if I don’t want to (there are some ‘fun’ items in-game that can force nearby characters to dance).

    One reaction that I have that I think that guys wouldn’t necessarily understand is that when I do get treated “better” because I’m a girl, or someone who doesn’t know me makes flirting jokes or whatever, my first thought is “you wouldn’t do that if you knew what I actually look like”. So, no matter how ‘positive’ the attention is, it usually ends up making me feel worse about myself.

    I have had the normal tribulations as a woman in a leadership position. [I had a long example here, but the post is already long, and I’m sure it would be familiar – people taking over when I’m supposed to be in charge.]

    Still, on the whole I have a good guild, and that makes a ton of difference. We have maintained the guild as a safe space, and that has paid off by having more women members around, which I really enjoy. And when I go to various gaming forums, and hear them talk about how “you know how there’s always that girl who is willing to cyber for epics?” “lol truth” and similar, I realize how great my guild is.

  53. CBrachyrhynchos
    July 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Mighty Ponygirl: Pardon? You devoted an entire paragraph to describing the entire female population of WoW as either complicit or bullied into silence. That does not describe the guild we run, or the environment we have worked hard to create.

    Discussion hosted by Blizzard on Noblegarden is still open btw. Critical discussion of that Noblegarden achievement happened throughout the WoW community. Proudmore hosted their 5th annual gay pride march in the game last month. The abundance of chainmail bikinis and cloth leggings has diminished with each new expansion. I’m certainly not going to give Blizzard credit as a feminist organization, but neither am I obligated to accept World of Warcraft as an unmitigated boyzone.

  54. CBrachyrhynchos
    July 29, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    And part of my frustration, as I said, comes from this thread over at Feministing in which a large quantity of chat involved dismissing gaming as inherently immature and sexist. Which probably wouldn’t happen if we were talking about animated feature films or sports.

  55. electrogirl
    July 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    A Feministe post on gaming! Epic! :) I might need to try CoX. The fact that there’s an MMORPG that does not force female avatars to wear chainmail bikinis in order to take advantage of gear with good stats… mindblowing!

    I have been a gamer girl since middle school and Magic: The Gathering. (Ahh, memories… I still can’t bring myself to get rid of my cards.) From there I went to MUCKs, tabletop DnD, single-player computer RPGs like Neverwinter Nights, WoW, and Warmachine (think Warhammer but steampunk-style with less models required). Of all the games, my former DnD group and my Warmachine buddies have definitely been the most accepting. The DnD guys were a bit awkward around me at first, but once they figured out that I was serious and that I could roleplay, they were happy to have me. One of the few gender-related comments I got was “Bring your friends to play, we need more girls in the gaming world!”. Heh.

    The Warmachine guys were simply thrilled to have someone new to play with; this area is kind of a desert for gaming. Of course, the fact that two out of the three guys are married might have something to do with their acceptance of me. They’re also a bit older than the usual demographic, late 20s – early 30s, and they seem to have enough maturity to see me as another gamer as opposed to ZOMG boobs.

    One of the Magic players at the FLGS brings his young daughter to Magic night (Friday, the same night we play Warmachine at the shop), and she’s rather fascinated by me. The fact that a woman is gaming and being taken seriously by her male opponent is evidently awesome to this little girl, as is the fact that I don’t try to dress and act like one of the boys. I wear practical but obviously feminine clothing, I wear jewelry, and I wear nail polish. “Wow, your nails match your army!” “Yup, they do. That’s why I bought that nail polish.” The best part about that exchange? My opponent C. didn’t crack any sexist jokes. He just smiled and kept setting up his army.

  56. Kristen J.
    July 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Several points:

    1) I wish there was central source for non-hateful gamer groups (or gamers) so that I could limit my interaction with the asshats. Anyone know of efforts like this? I suppose I could start one if anyone else is interested…although my gaming is pretty sporadic, so I’m probably not the best choice. Might also be an opportunity for advocacy if enough people were involved.

    2) I hate the fact that gaming with my SO is a completely different experience than gaming by myself. By myself I get hit on, harassed, and called a lesbian (as an insult, not a morally neutral assumption about my sexual orientation). With the SO I’m treated “respectfully”, people watch their language and apologize to MY FREAKING HUSBAND if they hit on me.

    3) I hate getting booted for kicking ass. Just because I killed you 10 times in a row coming out of that choke point, doesn’t mean I’m cheating…unless using tactics is cheating. Perhaps you should try something less obvious! Shockingly, if you ask me how I do it, I’ll probably tell you.

    4) I completely agree with the male/female lead dichotomy. Sure the SO gets a few challenges to his authority when he is leading…pack mentality, but every goddamn minute someone is mouthing off when I’m team leader. And when my kill ratio is about 5 times yours…perhaps you should take notes instead of suggesting that we just go after the target….dumbass. Particularly irritating since all of the SO’s strategies that everyone LOVES are actually mostly mine…I’m better at tactical map challenges than he is, but most of the time he has to run it just so we can freaking play.


  57. Ren
    July 29, 2009 at 2:39 pm


    Ahem, a woman CoX character, which is played by a woman (namely me, she’s my main)

  58. Laurie
    July 29, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I’m at work and have little time to respond, but I feel like I should mention that there’s a feminist guild in WoW that started on SHakesville; We’re on Steamwheedle Cartel, and all are welcome. (I’m the guild leader at the moment)

    Drop me a line at knitmeapony at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

  59. Vail
    July 29, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    I’ve played a lot of mmo’s and I’ve done the whole GenCon and tabletop gaming. I’m very lucky that now I have a gender balanced gaming group and a great Guild for online gaming. I do wish that I could somehow kick guys (not the ones in my guild) in the crotch via the internet for all the freaking rape jokes. Gah, some days I don’t even look at general chat (if I see it in general I report their asses). Right now my guild is looking at playing Aion. Now I know it’s a Korean game, but you have lots of choices in customizing your toon, including making her/him Rubenesque etc. I loved seeing people make female toons that didn’t look like Barbie. They also allow you to change the look of your armor without changing the stats (it costs yah though). I know that it means some might try to oversexualize their toons using these options, but it’s nice that people have the choice of making non-sexual and/or more realistic toons. BTW so far the armor hasn’t been horrible more cute.. nothing like the witch elf armor in warhammer. Oh and the game rocks so far (Wings!!!)

  60. July 29, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Pardon? You devoted an entire paragraph to describing the entire female population of WoW as either complicit or bullied into silence.

    Which is why you need to take a level in Reading For Comprehension. I very clearly distinguished THREE different types:

    1) Women who speak up who get gangpiled, of which your feminist guilds would fall into

    2) Women who are complicit in gangpiling on any sort of feminist speak-up,

    3) Women who observe the gangpiling of 1) by men and 2), and are bullied into silence.

  61. Ren
    July 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Aion does look pretty cool, but I try to limit my game spending these days, and CoX is my thang. Same company though, so I have faith the character/costume options for Aion will be keen.

  62. July 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    I’ve been playing tabletop RPGs for years, usually as the only woman at the table. I will ONLY play with my friends, however, and they will all roll their eyes right along with me at sexism in game art and systems.

    I just started playing WoW a few months ago, and honestly, it’s been a mostly positive experience. I play a female dwarf, which is apparently a rare race/gender combination — and I suspect that’s because female dwarves aren’t tall and willowy and don’t do a sexy dance, making them less appealing to the male players who want something hot to look at. I am NOT on an RP server, which means I don’t get propositioned for cybering, thank god. And I make extensive use of my Ignore button for homophobia and sexism in Trade. My guild has a number of queer members, and I have yet to hear anything objectionable in guildchat. Which makes me happy to stick around even though we’re not the strongest progression guild on the server by a long shot. (If we get Yogg down before 3.2, it’ll be a miracle …)

  63. AndersH
    July 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    This thread makes me miss my old character:
    I’m a guy, but I pretty much always play women in games. Don’t know why…

  64. July 29, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Kristin J.

    Check out the One World Syndicate Community. (Full disclosure: I’m a recruit member.)

    They have several games (Day of Defeat, WOW, Counterstrike, Team Fortress 2, Aion, Guild Wars, Left 4 Dead, Killing Floor, Call of Duty, Company of Heroes) that they play as a group, and some servers of their own.

    They’re a good group of people, of varying ages, who don’t deal with the crap that you’re talking about. They’ll boot people who act inappropriately and don’t follow the rules. They’re also open to being told something is offensive.

    Even if you don’t join the community, they’re a good group to play with. I’ve noticed several other women in the group, and in positions of leadership.

  65. July 29, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Sorry about misspelling your name, Kristen J.

  66. CBrachyrhynchos
    July 29, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Mighty Ponygirl: I’ve read your post multiple times, very carefully. And no, it is not at all clear that you are talking about three different groups. That’s not the meat of the problem anyway.

    The fundamental disagreement still remains in spite of your clarification. There is no room in your description of WoW for the kinds of feminist and queer activism we create. We are not gangpiled. We have good relationships with a couple of other guilds on our server and our prerogative to set the tone of our chat has never been challenged. We are certainly not silent about our rules for participation, and we don’t silence others with similar goals.

    Personally I’d love to see a similar community develop in CoX. Anyone interested in getting something together?

  67. Siobhan
    July 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    I find the comments here really interesting. I’ve never considered myself a gamer, but I got into Warhammer Online about five months ago so I could play with friends who had moved out of town. I am now a complete addict and log in almost every day.

    I have a mix of male and female characters and I can honestly say I’ve never had any other players treat me differently based on the gender of my toon. I have once been involved in a Keep Take where the general chat had people throwing the word “rape” around and that made me pretty uncomfortable. But the incident was never repeated and that was months ago.

    There aren’t many options for chosing dress but there a couple of characters who run around half dressed. If you are on Destruction side the witch elves don’t wear many clothes and they are always female. On the Order side the half-naked toons are the slayers – who are always male dwarves.

  68. Ashley in Texas
    July 29, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Wow! Nice to see some gamers here!

    I’m actually studying to art in video games and we have a grand total of 4 girls out of 30 students in our current class.

    At game cons, it’s really a kind of conundrum, since there aren’t many girls around, any girls there are sort of celebrities in a way. Con-goers are excited to talk to you and are super polite. But, you know that it’s JUST because you’re an average girl interested in the same thing and they probably don’t want to scare you off.

    I’ve definitely run into some fun times at cons specifically. I love making costumes and I find that I get hit on/stalked more depending on character rather than skin to cloth ratio. It’s really weird. It goes to show that most of those creeps hold their fantasies close.

  69. July 29, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Ren, don’t make too many assumptions about Aion based on the fact that it is being released by NCSoft. After all, NCSoft also released Lineage and Lineage II.

    There was also a thread in the City of Heroes forums recently that was talking about costume options, the gist of the original post being that there are plenty of women that use the “tops with skin” and “bottoms with skin” options.

    I just wish there were “tops with skin” and “bottoms with skin” options for men. And shoulder pets too.

  70. Nentuaby
    July 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I just wish there were “tops with skin” and “bottoms with skin” options for men. And shoulder pets too.

    They could never allow that. One young man in a fishnet top with a kittie on his shoulder, and the entire server would come crashing down under the weight of teh ghey.

  71. July 29, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Well, to be fair, you can already create guys with fishnet tops.
    And leather straps
    http://i26.tinypic.com/11gnf3b.jpg (the green tattoos are optional on this chest, the nipple rings aren’t)

    But there are some tops and bottoms not available to men that are fairly unisex.

    But you could be right about the kitty.

  72. July 29, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    I’m not much of a gamer, but I have some experience with gaming (I get obsessive over an MMO every once in a while) and other male-dominated geek activities (mecha fandom).

    The thing that always manages to make me rage is the idea that girls are going to come in and ruin everything. Most of the time, the reason given is that we’re interested in romance/characters/guys/bejewled/etc. instead of their “manly” activities and interests and that’s bad. It makes it very tempting to stay as sexless as possible because that way you are assumed to be male and get treated like a human being. I’ve had the experience of a community finding out I’m female after several months of being assumed male, and the change in how people related to me was less than pleasant.

    As for cons, the worst I’ve gotten is “OMG! A girl who’s interested in X, that’s so cool!”. Seriously treating me like I’m a mystical creature never before seen by humans, is not endearing even as a compliment.

  73. CMarie
    July 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    You know, I started playing Lord of the Rings Online, with no prior experience with MMORPGs and fully expecting to get a fair amount of crap from male players for being a female. Almost as though I were thumbing my nose at them, right from the start I knew I’d play all female characters, and I would make no secret of my female-ness IRL.

    But I’ve had very, very little crap overall in my time playing that game. I’ve heard that the community on LOTRO is more mature, relatively speaking, than the communities of other, similar games. Whether this is true or not is not something I can speak to.

    However I also took care, when I was looking for a guild to join, to choose one that I knew would be a safe space – I ended up joining a LGBT-friendly guild so I know, at least, when I’m interacting with guildmates I will be spared most of the crap one can expect from mostly straight dudes – there are straight dudes in the guild but they are generally very enlightened.

    I was emoted at once, in a very…suggestive… way. But it was a one-time occurrence and it’s never happened again.

    I don’t know if I’m just lucky or what.

  74. Harumph
    July 29, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    I was raped by my DnD dungeon master who was also a trusted, long time friend with serious Nice Guy syndrome. And all our gaming and comic “friends” except one decided I was asking for it.

    So. Uh.

    I have a lot to say on this topic. But to save myself the triggers… I’ll just leave it at that.

  75. July 29, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    @Ren: About Aion. It’s published by NCsoft, but it’s a different developer from CoX. Aion is being developed in Korea, while CoX was developed in the States. Regarding the character creation options, while not as extensive as in CoX, are still pretty varied.

  76. shah8
    July 29, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Seriously not into gaming. Mostly because it’s almost as bad for race. Also, I’ve had some pretty outre experience in high school and college. My high school has literally canceled a game I was nearly certain to win. Chess in college tended towards trauma whenever I won a game. Man, I don’t think the sexism in chess has gone down since I read about it in K. Neville The Eight either.

    I am too well aware of the sort of people that populate many gaming servers. I hang out in chatrooms that have many gamers, and I’m pretty sick of the everything ‘ist slang those guys use in the chatroom. Especially the damned homophobic shit. Reading on the other hand…can’t get into fights over books!

  77. July 29, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I just get real fucking sick of having to listen to cracks like “YOU GOT RAPED BITCH” when I’m trying to bust a few headshots into terrorists or zombies. Generally speaking people get real touchy if you’re all “Uh yeah, I have before so stfu” or they think you’re a 12 year old boy.
    Oh well. Sims 3 is digitial crack for me.

    Saying things like “hey baby, wanna kill all humans?” (left for dead vs ftw) has been a great pick up line in past though….

  78. Kristen J.
    July 29, 2009 at 11:26 pm


    Thanks! I look into it…I knew someone had to have figured this out before…

  79. July 30, 2009 at 6:58 am

    I was talking to my brother (a gamer) about this thread and my mom walked in and listened for a minute and said, “Yes, but I don’t want men and women to be the same” (in response to my reading comment #25, Faith’s comment, aloud to my brother). She says that guys do that kind of thing with each other, too, so why would it be any different with women?

    My dad walked by and asked what we were talking about, and when I told him, he got this long-suffering look and said, “Saving the world again, are we?” I laughed, and my mom said, “You know, honey, you don’t have to go after every little thing.”

    I was kind of appalled, but I had no retort. I wanted to tell her that this wasn’t/isn’t just “boys being boys” (and even if it was/is, what the hell?) but I got the feeling she would’ve been like, “But men and women are supposed to be different.”

    Is there a good way for me to approach this kind of thing with the parentals?

  80. Vail
    July 30, 2009 at 7:54 am

    @V.E. There is a difference between being equal and being the same. And common courtesy should not be enforced on women, while giving guys a free ride. I mean really, is courtesy genetic? Are penises anti-courtesy devices? Put it this way, if your mom doesn’t want YOU to talk that way, she shouldn’t want your BROTHER to talk that way.

  81. Beste
    July 30, 2009 at 10:11 am


    “You know, honey, you don’t have to go after every little thing.”

    Perhaps you should listen to your mother.

  82. July 30, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I don’t do online gaming, but I’ve been attending pencil and paper gaming conventions since the early 90’s.

    Very early on, I developed a D&D module for low level female PC’s. I found that I could fill a table by running D&D (it’s not normally my system of choice), low level characters kept the worst of the non-roleplaying powergamers away, and all-female PCs kept most of the sexist idiots away. I’ve seen the demographics change a lot over the years. At first, I found I was running for a lot of couples, often the only game the female half of the couple was going to play. For much of the mid-2000’s, though, I’ve had tables of all female players who were attending on their own.

  83. Winter_lights
    July 30, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Alex in #19 about WoW:
    “However, there are many pieces of gear that, say, when put on a male character look like heavy plate armour pants. When put on a female character? Chain maille bikini.”

    That’s kind of an interesting contrast with FFXI, where if something looks like metal panties on a female character, that’s what it’s going to look like on a male character too. “Subligar” is practically a curse word in some circles…

    I haven’t run into much sexist behavior of either the “giving free stuff for no reason” kind or the harassment/stalking kind in FFXI, but that could be partly because I spend a lot of my time soloing in rarely travelled parts of the game world. Though I do wonder if, since FFXI has a female-only race and a male-only race, players might be more aware that the sex of the player and character won’t necessarily match.

    In CoH I like to give my characters costumes that I might be willing to wear, but it’s kind of tricky. I can’t stand wearing things that are too heavy or with long sleeves, so several categories (including the ubiquitous tights) are closed off to me. And running around in underwear tends to be a bit too much. Until recently, there wasn’t a lot in between.

  84. peanutbutter
    July 30, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    don’t hang your head in shame…if he didn’t have his shit together enough to focus, he deserved to lose…

    I’ve gamed some…back in the dark old ages when no one used computers (classic D&D and GURPS). It was fun, but I only played with good friends, and didn’t have trouble. If I’d run into the sort of crap I read about here… hoo boy…

  85. July 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    As a gamer – long time, many formats, etc. etc. etc. – and a guy I have to say that I don’t enjoy playing most online games (or many games in general) due to the idiocy that comes out of people’s mouths. I get tired of attempting to flag each and every halfwit/troll/griefer who spouts racist, sexist, homophobic, and just plain mean spirited noise. Call me old fashioned but I game to enjoy myself and I assume other people would like to do the same.

    In most of the rpgs I play – if I have the choice I create a female avatar. Otherwise my character ends up looking like Marv from “Sin City”. My female characters tend have a few variations: Ripley in “Alien 3”, Tank Girl (the comic not the movie), in “Saints Row 2” I had a very heavily muscled and tattooed Korean woman, and sometimes a Donna Reed clone (equip Donna Reed with a flamethrower and I’m happy). I find I play a much more mercenary character when I play a female character – I have yet to figure out why.

  86. July 30, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    I mostly LARP, though I’ve tabletopped with members of the larping circles, and it’s incredibly depressing sometimes. There are half as many of us as them, and we either get “Help, I’m surrounded by girls, haha,” or “Wow, there are loads of girls in this game,” or sometimes even “Why are there so many girls in this game? It’s weird.”
    They outnumber us two to one and they feel threatened. What would they do if they ever found themselves in a minority?

  87. Jenna
    July 30, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    I’m a role-player. I’ve played some DnD, and I’m also active in a play-by-post role-playing community, online.

    Whenever I’ve played DnD, I’ve been with a group of people I know, and am friends with. In the last game I played, people would sometimes accidentally refer to my (male) character as a female, but that’s it. It was a good group to game with.

    With the online community I role-play with, the experience is more hit-and miss. Fortunately, I’m a moderator, there, and so I’m in a position where I can call people out for sexism/racism/homophobia/you get the idea, and I’m also able to enforce it. It’s not perfect; other moderators and a few admin don’t always share my opinion, and sometimes my decisions will be overturned. Fortunately, that’s not often, and as a result the out-of-character community is relatively free is -isms.

    There was one bad incident a few years ago, when I had just started moderating. One member (male, age 17 or 18) had another member (female, age 13) strip for him over webcam. She was also intoxicated at the time. She reported the incident, and he was banned. He was a well-known member, though, and well-liked by a lot of other people in the community. There was an uproar over it, and plenty of the age-old rape apologetic statements were used. The head administrator put out a statement that, in no uncertain terms, said that this member was banned because of sexually predatory behaviour. Member tried to come back a few times, but as soon as someone realized who he was, he’d get banned, again. While other members of the site might not think that banning this guy over and over again is fair, there is a consensus among mods and admin that he’s not allowed to come back. (And if someone does disagree, I’m quick to point out that his actions were also illegal, seeing as she was below the age of consent, and even if she was old enough, she was intoxicated, which negates consent. That’s usually enough to shut up the dissenters.)

    The biggest problem that site has is with people making rape “jokes”, but there are plenty of well-respected members of the site (including most of the moderating staff, but not all) who are quick to point out that that shit’s not funny.

    Overall, I’ve had a pretty positive gaming experience.

  88. lowly_adjunct
    July 30, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    My 0.02:

    Been gaming for 20 years now. Started with ADnD, still play tabletop RPGs, got into Xbox, refuse anything to do with WoW and MMORPGs (because I know damn well I’d get addicted to it). My Xbox status is serious cred with my college first-years (boys, mostly, but I’ve scared up a surprising number of females by being openly gamer).

    My first GM was female and my best friend, and we still game together. Met my husband in a vampire LARP. He used to run at cons; I would have nothing to do with them, and less for the men than the women. –The ones who were there, I found, tended to be hyper-competitive (with other women) and hyper-sexualized (when dealing with men). Skeeved me right out.

    In both high school and college, the RPG clubs had a no-women policy (unstated). You could sign up until your fingers bled, but you’d never get contacted back. And I’ve definitely walked into game stores and been hit on or flat out ignored, but no worse than when I’m trying to deal with any other so-called male pursuit (like, oh, getting parts for my car).

  89. SilverKitten
    July 31, 2009 at 2:07 am

    I’m guessing it is okay to talk about video games, since others seem to be. As much as I wish to get into more games (I usually only play Disgaea on PS2 or PSP), I will have to say dealing the men in the gaming world makes it difficult. Often times I am turned away from games because of how I am treated when playing them, which includes because I am a girl I must be doing it wrong or it’s not girly enough of a game. As much as I hear talk about being inclusive with fellow females, their ways to describe females becomes sexualized rather easily. Which includes comments from close friends.

    Even as a female, I get sick of the idea that all (or a majority of) male gamers are guys who live in their mom’s basement that never wash or eat healthy. (Irony, my fiance lives in my family’s basement and is currently eating a cream puff at this moment while playing a game and my fiance was the one to get me to eat healthier). The majority of my trips to cons such as Marcon and Origins have been good and non-threatening. Maybe I just don’t pay attention enough to the others around me or maybe me being shielded by my fiance prevents me from being harassed by other males.

    I believe I deal more with the opposite sex comes from the otaku culture I am part of, where there is rampant sexism and beauty standards. I’m not sure if comments from 4chan count or not towards this discussion in regards as being intolerant with women as their equals. Sometimes I think the line is blurred between them truly feeling that way or if it was hurtful views now turned into memes and on running jokes. I will say some of gags such as “no women on the internet!” and “/d/ now? If you’re a woman go to /y/!” get annoying fast.

    About the only time I have dealt with sexism from tabletop gaming was literally from 13 year olds that are part of the group. The older member were rather calm and tried their best to keep it to a minimum.

    I will have to say there is an RPG forum that is great due to the open-minded community that is on it. There are sexist jokes here and there on it especially in the motivational poster department.

  90. SilverKitten
    July 31, 2009 at 2:59 am

    My gaming experience has been rather in the middle at times. Those that have given me problems in regards to gaming, I usually never talk to or deal with again. I think the worst I have dealt with so far was a friend who had a screenshot from 4chan that said “A girl who says she can game is a like a man walking in and saying he’s a professional chef when he can only make mac & cheese.” There was an alternate version where it did say she could only play tetris, but the version without is the one that sticks to me. I usually wound up studying more and browsing for pics of a favorite character of mine. It was easier to switch between Visual Basic programming and IE than turn on my Nintendo DS.

    I have gotten the range of being treated like I can’t do a level because of my gender and the game not being girly enough. I think what bothers me the most is hearing in the same breath where a male gamer acknowledges and welcomes female gamers and then two seconds later says sexual and inappropriate things about a character on screen.

    The only real sexism I ever dealt with tabletop gamers was from the younger teenagers. The older members often kept it to a minimum or used sexism in a way to show how misogynist some NPC was (like a shopkeeper saying sexist things about the girls that worked for him). That groups age ranged between 14 and 30 which ran on 3rd Edition of DnD. The group of 18-22 I met with up at my college dealt more with 4th Edition, so we often focused more on strategy and fighting than the actual socialization.

    I’ve been to cons such as Origins and Marcon. I was actually quite happy to see a woman who was well into the “not society thin” range sporting a chainmail bikini. I was actually rather happy that she was confident to wear it. Rather than be harassed and yelled out, people were asking for her picture.

    I guess more of my experience dealing with male-majority geek culture come from the otaku aspect rather than the gaming aspect. The anime fandom and otaku fandom are rampant with sexism, homophobia, and beauty standards. Cosplayers get called out almost as fast as celebrities do for their weight and make-up. There was a rather well done Yoko from Gurren Lagann by a teenager or twenty-some year old female who by society’s standards was overweight. They did call her out on it quickly. Even some who dress up as the opposite sex get it as well. A common stereotype I hear about women in the fandom is that all women are crazy. They have to be otakukin, yaoi-paddle carrying psycho who will pay two guys pocky to hook up for her amusement or fat, greasy girl who wears both cat and fox ears at the same time who goes “SUGOI, DESU NE! KAWAIIII” all the time. It’s sickening at times. I’m pretty sure an analysis of 4chan and its sexist/racist/homophobic memes could end up in a rather large term paper.

  91. Vail
    July 31, 2009 at 7:31 am

    One of my biggest peeves, besides the rape comments is the “I did your mother” ones. I just don’t get those. Why do guys think it’s OK to insult a third party (the mother) as being acceptable? When did it become fine and dandy to start using “i did your sister/mother last night” as an insult? In the macho culture it just doesn’t seem honorable at all, and I just don’t get it.

  92. Kristen J.
    July 31, 2009 at 8:49 am


    To answer your question, I suggest developing a finely tuned level of sarcasm. Not mean or angry (don’t want to appear “hysterical”) or too preachy (you’ve run into what people think of that), just rude and condescending. And don’t try to convince them of a truth, make fun of them for not knowing the truth….far more effective as a teaching tool…

  93. July 31, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    i’m coming to this post late, but i just posted about just posted about this neat organization that works on getting gaming cons (and other cons) to adopt thorough sexual harassment policies. sounds pretty rad…

  94. libdevil
    July 31, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Vail – it’s because women, and especially their sexuality, are the property of men. “I did your mother,” is an insult because it means the target was too weak to properly protect his property, and weakness is the ultimate insult.

  95. August 1, 2009 at 2:40 am

    For anyone looking for a feminist gamer community, I suggest Googling the Iris Gaming Network (named in honor of the Iris Network in the videogame, Beyond Good & Evil).

  96. Jennifer S.
    August 1, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’m living at home and my family has a WoW account, so I play a fair amount. However, I basically play completely solo. I have a level 65 toon and don’t even have a guild or know how to group… because I don’t want the pressure of feeling like I have to prove that I’m a competent player EVEN THOUGH I’m a girl. Being a “good” player isn’t particularly important to me personally, as long as I can get my quests done and explore and all that game content which I enjoy, so honestly I’m probably not. But in a group/guild/raid setting I’m sure my competence would be judged and very likely linked to my gender. I don’t need to deal with that kind of anxiety in something I do for fun… so I play alone.

  97. August 1, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    I run an online game; one of the funniest things is dealing with player disputes or rule-breaking. The player in question will inevitably demand to speak to “the guy in charge.” That’s when I get to show up and I just LOVE to inform them that I am in fact, a woman.

  98. jennygadget
    August 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    V.E. @ 80

    re: how to respond to “Yes, but I don’t want men and women to be the same.”

    (See, this is why I became a feminist so early, because illogical shit like this drove me crazy)

    The best tactic I’ve found is to point out the lack of logic. (Course, I still never know what to say most times when people say stuff like that offline and you have to answer right away…)

    If had been in your shoes (but had a pause button so I could think about it and then speak :) ) I would have asked your mom what one has to do with the other. I’d ask her how in the world expecting boys to act like good sports (or men to act like adults, jesus christ) has fuck all* to do with men and women being the same or not or whatever. And when she has nothing to say to that or simply goes on about boys just being better at certain things**, I’d ask why “men and women not being the same” always seems to translate into men being better at certain things. When she starts talking about there being things women are better at too, ask her why it is that the things women are better at tend to come with less power and pay than the things that men are better at.

    This is also a good time to point out that while women do the bulk of the cooking worldwide, men are more likely to be chefs. Which neatly punches holes in the twin ideas that men and women simply have a discrete set onf innate skills and that men’s skills just happen to be of the flashier variety. It might not be a bad idea to also point out that, despite all their talk of “mom’s recipes,” a great number of these male chefs are just as likely to act like spoiled brats as the defeated gamerbois when faced with competent women – er, that’s what I’ve heard anyway.

    And I know you were asking about both parents, but I would concentrate on your mom as much as possible (unless she’s the less progressive of the two, in which case, focus on your dad first). Dealing with both parents at once is really hard, it’s easier to deal with them one at a time. Also, if you get one to listen to you, they may help you tag team the other one later. Often without meaning to – they are your parents and love you (or at least it sounds like they do) and once they see your side, parents often get really defensive in your favor when they think the other parent is picking on you or telling you that you are less than you are.

    No matter what, though, avoid any language that may suggest that you think that the things that women are traditionally considered to be better at actually are less important, etc. This is tricky, as you do want to point out that society values these things less; you just need to make sure that however you say that, you are also making it very clear that you don’t agree. Language like that – language that implies that your mom is stuck doing crap that is of no value – means that your parents will hear you as disrespecting your mom and her choices, which – aside from not winning you any points – will cause them to get defensive and angry and not listen to anything you say.

    I can’t promise my advice will help, but when I have been able to ‘win” conversations like this, it’s when I’ve managed to do most of what I just said.

    *ok, I wouldn’t say fuck – not to your mom ;)

    **and this probably the general direction she will go in because this is what people usually mean when they say that men and women are different. Also, if she immediately starts talking about boys being better at video games specifically, jump straight to the bits about power and pay.

  99. TheThomas
    August 3, 2009 at 12:19 am

    I would like to hear someone talk about how easy it is to abuse the love-starved men by just being willing to talk to them.

    I know it is a running theme in WoW that women are dangerous to guild solidarity–a bit like pirates really, “women are bad luck, yarr.” Most of the pubescent/anonymous/socially-isolated males adore a woman who speaks to them like a human. If she wants to take power she can, and with an inordinate amount of ease.

  100. Arkibet
    August 3, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I just wanted to say that I never really thought about this. I started doing some CoV/CoH, but didn’t keep up with it. Being a gay man, my first character was an overly buff man showing lots of lots of skin. The second character I made was a female character, and I spent a lot of time making an outfit around the tall boots whose design I loved.

    I think I am both innocent and guilty of what you describe at the same time! But I’d be 100% fine with a female leader and no, I don’t talk penis all day. Nice post! :)

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