This is a 2 part post. The first being over at my personal blog, the Rant Page. The second being a little less about gender roles in society, and more about how males and females are perceived in a gaming environment. As I said over there, this post has been a very long time coming. I believe I have been planning to write a post about gender since maybe May, perhaps even a little before that, and it was in fact listening to the Obscurecast that reminded me about it and finally made me decide to get my thoughts down. I’d like to thank Pewter, Gazimoff, and Stu for the inspiration.
The general consensus amongst and about gamers seems to be that games are for boys and girls don’t play games, but that’s just not the case. I guess most female WoW players, or indeed players of any online game, will experience “Omg you’re a girl?” at some point in their gaming experience, which to me has always felt strange, I mean, yes I am female, and last time I checked there are a lot of us around here. What’s so amazing about owning a pair of breasts? Even girls who perhaps don’t enjoy console games, or MMOs, can be found gaming these days, there are games such as the Sims and Farmville around that make gaming much more accessible for everybody.
In WoW, females are often treated differently to males, and there are different aspects of it. Sometimes they are treated with much more respect, given the benefit of the doubt for messing up, given gifts, easier guild access. I always hated guild applications that asked for real name or gender for this reason, and also the other reason, much more difficult guild access.
There is the belief amongst WoW players that “girls cause drama”, and on this basis, a lot of guilds will be very sparing with the amount of female players they accept. The trouble is, this creates a self fulfilling prophecy in that the majority of us don’t care for drama much at all and just want to play the game. I’ve been on the receiving end of sexist remarks ingame. In my TBC guild, if I tried to join in with guild chat, very often I was met with, “Get back in the kitchen lol,” which hey, they may have found funny, but I don’t. I’m a female, so therefore I can’t join in with stuff without being made to feel that I’m inadequate as a player. Of course, I don’t personally come across this too often, but some girls get it quite bad and that’s absolutely horrendous. A lot of the time, females are seen as lesser players which simply isn’t the case, there are some excellent female players in this game, it’s all down to the individual. There are some awful male players too.
I’ve seen this happen more publicly too. Comments in trade about girls not playing WoW, they’re all fat and ugly, and so on. People advertising for pugs either stating that they have a girl in the party, or requesting more girls for the party. There was a guild back in TBC on my server called <Sapped Girls Can’t Say No> which I found utterly disgusting, and I immediately reported the name – they didn’t last long thank God. The worst part about all of the derogatory things that happen, is that more often than not people laugh at them! Like women aren’t important, they’re just there for shits and giggles, and you know what, that actually hurts a bit.
The way in which gaming companies portray women and men doesn’t help very much either. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against the skimpy armour they make women wear, the ass shots you see in a lot of console games, how butch and muscular they design their men, and the differences in strength, how weak and weepy they design their women, and how macho they design their men. None of this really helps matters. What the game needs is women who kick ass, and don’t seem to be there merely for sex appeal. I think the best female protagonists this game has to offer is Lady Sylvanas and Keristrasza. They kick ass, and they lead. Shame about the bikinis. These women show people that females are powerful, and aren’t to be messed with! Although, it’s a shame that often women feel that to stand up for their gender, they can’t be feminine, else they’ll only be mocked for being female, because that’s not true in the slightest. I can sit on the lawn in a skirt, reading Hitchhiker’s, and telling a man to go make me a sandwich if I want.
It would be nice to think that things are slowly improving, I mean, I notice a lot less “Omg you’re a girl” style comments these days, but I still see sexism popping up in guild chat. There are some real chauvinists in this game and it’s a shame I cleared my screenshot folder because I had a couple of excellent examples in there I’d taken for this post but cleared it to make space on my PC. I do think the gaming culture has come a long way, but there is still a little way to go to get things to be a lot more equal. Also, this image confuses me. I’m not sure whether it’s great for showing that girls are powerful too, or horrendous for basically being fanservice. I’m inclined to lean towards the latter, sadly.