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Toxic Gaming Communities

Gaming From a Female's Perspective

Video games are for pure enjoyment and can bring stories and fantasies into life. Everyone in multiplayer games finds anonymous players from around the globe, befriends them, and includes them in a team or a guild. The inclusion rates in video games is rather high, even for solo players, there are benefits for people that simply want to be alone in a video game. Not including mobile gaming, women are interested in console and PC gaming. As a female gamer myself, I do enjoy both PC and console gaming. However, it comes at the expense of sanity.

In order to make friends online, questioning the sexual orientation is the last thing on a player’s mind without a voice being heard. It can be difficult to determine when men and women are likely to develop names similar to the opposite gender as their own. My identity online varied based on the usernames that are already taken. My current username has thrown many players for a loop. During many matches in Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs), people have assumed my identity simply from my name alone. Roleplaying games with smaller servers were easy to avoid contact. I do not go out of my way to look for people to play with because I do not want to find myself in a toxic community as a new player. My username came from a character from an anime who I thought had a comedic name. MisstressSadie became my name simply because I loved the character in the television series. I did not think anyone would take it seriously. People come up with usernames that are self-deprecating to the person behind the virtual character. Others use puns and aliases they developed when they got their first computer. By no means was my username supposed to be as serious as people thought it would be.

Alas I had to pay for the consequences of using such a name that was approved by the censorship. As stated, I did think that my name was pretty clever, especially in an Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) called TERA. It is a game that someone replaced the acronym for in a Steam review, Mostly Men Online Roleplaying Girls, where men have no qualms about hitting on other men because the avatar they developed for themselves is a beautiful half naked female. As characters progress into higher levels, the women’s clothing changes, covering less of the body. Many players have questioned how a metal plate armor bikini can protect a character from devastating blows. During the time I played TERA it became clear that people were not constantly hitting on each other as I once thought. In fact, the game was slowly dying out and the guild I joined faded shortly after. TERA was an eye opener for me as a player, the men I played with were teenagers and one as about the same age as me. They were in fact decent human beings.

Shortly after TERA fizzled out and moved to my uninstalled list of games, MOBAs have a reputation for their toxic player base. Teammates have no regrets about how they feel toward a new or terrible player. I did enter the MOBA community with friends from TERA but they told me to “get gud scrub” which I had no idea what that meant. As I played matches with them over the course of a day, I became annoyed with the phrase. Anyone who said it to me was blocked immediately after the match. I played this game over and over, to practice against real players in multiple match settings. I wanted to find a character I could master. Shortly thereafter, I learned that it came down to a username. If my team won a match and it was far from close. In the match lobby after the game was over I paid close attention to my stats. Sometimes I caught a glimpse of the chat room and it would set me into a maddening spree. From the dredges of humanity players typed into the chat, they watched me on pornographic sites and asked me for a social media account to look me up. Occasionally there were nice guys who wanted to party up with me and teach me the ropes. These nice boys were interested in helping me for all the wrong reasons. When I joined their voice chatroom to discuss strategies, the conversation morphed into more personal questions. When these boys learned my age, I was older than themselves and left me alone. The game strategies were often less than helpful.

However, if the team lost I could get cussed out for not doing my job properly with my character. I did not carry the team hard enough or did not protect them when they went out to fight alone. I have yet to determine how to deal with these mentalities. I remember I told my mom a story about what it is like to be a female gamer. Her response was simply to just quit the game. It’s harder than that; it’s hard to leave a game when the game itself is fun to play. When the community looms in the background they truly do not matter. I can report and block people all day. Women struggle in gaming communities more than in real life. Words are just words and games are just games and I cannot always take out my frustrations by entering more matches.

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