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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Essay

Push to Talk: The Tricky Business of Being a Woman on Vent


Like many folks, I first used Vent in conjunction with World of Warcraft (for those not in the know, Ventrilo is a VoIP client beloved by gamers). Before I even left Shadowglen, I ran across an article about one girl’s unfortunate experiences in Vent. I was simply going to reference it here, but my mad Google skills have turned up the actual article, which hearkens back from the year 2005:

I made the mistake of speaking one day, out of the blue…People got loud, people were talking on top of each other, the channel got laggy from all the chaos…I very suddenly got flooded with in game tells: “Was that you?” I didn’t reply to any, I just kept my mouth shut, very quickly realizing my mistake. A few people took it to the next level, making some extremely harsh comments about girls, and girls playing the game. I didn’t talk for the rest of the raid.

That was how I thought Vent was going to be: a never-ending misogynistic gauntlet of harassment and requests for pics. It sounded awful. See, at this point, I hadn’t made any gamer friends, and the only female gamers I knew of were strangers writing articles like the one above. I avoided Vent as long as I could, making up excuses about not having a mic. My interaction with other players was minimal. But by level twenty, my gear was pathetic, and it was clear that I was missing out on a lot of game content.

I joined a PUG (pick-up group) for Scarlet Monastery. I was nervous about screwing up, but excited, too. Everything was fine until I got the fateful question:

“Do you have Vent?”

Oh, frak.

There was no turning back. I was in my first proper instance, and they weren’t going to spell things out for me in chat. With a heavy sense of doom, I dug out my headset. I installed the Vent client. I pushed the button.

“Hi, Asrai here,” I said, my heart in my throat.

A few casual introductions followed. We ran through the instance, the leader kindly offering strategy tips and praising me when I finally got the knack of healing myself (Feral Druid for life, yo). We divvied up loot and traded jokes. We had a really good time.

Nobody had cared. Not one bit.

I played WoW until 2009, and the two guilds I ran with during that time never so much as blinked at my gender. I caught a bit of flak from strangers, sure. I dealt with a few eye-rolling private messages. A small number of PUGs were decidedly prickly. Public chat channels were less than welcoming, but then, they tended to be places where intelligent conversation crawled off to die. And there was one charming fellow who violently threatened me after I turned down his brief, lackluster advances (he was reported to a GM faster than you can say “enjoy your ban, scumbag”). But these experiences were the small exception to the much friendlier rule. Most of the guys I’ve known in game have been awesome, the kind of awesome where you organize barbecues with the ones who happen to be within driving distance. One of them has been a houseguest. Three of them eventually became housemates.

Recently, I began to wonder what made my experience so different from the ones I read about (I have used Vent for other games since, though primarily with friends I made in WoW). Was it because I played in casual 18+ guilds, in which many of the members had girlfriends or wives or kids? Was it something about certain genres of games? In six years of gaming online, have I just been lucky? Or, could it be that things have actually gotten better for female gamers?

I knew that my experiences alone could not answer that question. In conjunction with doing some research online, I emailed out a series of questions to some fellow gamer ladies in an attempt to get to the bottom of things. Here are a few of the highlights.

Former guildie jaymckay08 also started out using Vent for WoW, but later began using it for FPSs such as Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2.

I never pretended to be male. I just didn’t care. I’ve never had anyone hit on me or give me a hard time for being female. If anything, I get a hard time for sucking in game (and not because I am female) which is completely acceptable. I don’t avoid going on Vent if asked to join and if someone is annoying in general I just mute them specifically. Unless its the event leader, which if they are an ass I either deal or jump out of the instance.

Val’s experience on Vent has been almost exclusively dedicated to WoW. She’s played in both hardcore and casual guilds.

Some [men] get super ‘nice’, I might even go so far as to say uncomfortably so in some cases. Some just give you more attention and more general chat than they seem to do with guys…If they get annoyingly clingy, I just mute them and say I was AFK. It’s the internet. I don’t have to be nice to people if they’re making my free time miserable.

Bara has played a variety of MMOs, and spent many a year as a WoW raid leader.

For my own part, I’ve never bothered to hide that I’m a girl, avoided acting/talking like a girl or otherwise behaved in any way unlike how I always behave. I don’t see any reason to. The internet is full of assholes, so it is statistically impossible not to run into them, and some of them will turn to gender-bashing simply because it’s there. But that is what the Ignore function is for.

I was hoping for a variety of experiences, something that I could dissect and theorize over. But the ladies I interviewed, who don’t all play the same games (other than WoW), and who have played on many different servers in a variety of geographic locations, all came to the same basic conclusion:

Things aren’t that bad. If someone’s a jerk, ignore them. Being a woman doesn’t get in the way of my ability to play.

Though this was a very small sampling of the gaming community, it tied in with my theory that things were, indeed, better. I found further evidence of this when, on a nostalgic whim, I went to see if WomenGamers.Com was still up. Eleven years ago, my mom let me use her credit card to buy a t-shirt from the site. “Because Women DO Play,” read the big, bold letters. Today, the site is up, but all that remains is a letter from the staff, explaining why they’re no longer active.

It’s no longer a matter of whether women play, but what they are playing that is now in question. Gamer shame is dwindling, and the world is changing. We too must change with it.

However, this optimistic outlook flew right in the face of a comment I received on my blog from gamer ECMSquared, who linked to a post about her choice to pretend to be male in game (she plays WoW as well). She wrote the post just this past April. And then there’s the site Fat, Ugly or Slutty, which encourages female gamers to send in screenshots and audio of the appalling messages they receive in game. It gets updated every day. The fact that such a site exists at all shows that for many women, life online is still pretty grim.

While I was scratching my head about the disparity I was seeing, I received three emails. One was a newsletter from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The headlining article, A Case for Psuedonyms, spoke strongly against online real-name policies. Following the links within the article, I found a statistic from a study done by the University of Maryland: chat room participants with female usernames are twenty-five times more likely to be threatened or sexually harassed (granted, the study was done in 2006, but I doubt that a margin that high could drop significantly in just five years).

The second email was from a friend of mine who goes by the name of Chimp (full disclosure: he’s jaymckay08′s husband). Chimp was concerned that I was going to write a BOYS ON VENT ARE JERKS piece, which he rightly felt was unfair, especially since our five-year friendship was first forged within Vent. This brought to mind a quieter phenomenon I have noticed amongst some male gamers: a resistance against aggressively us-versus-them female gamers. See, guys like Chimp would be the first to smack a dude down in Vent (or elsewhere) if they were being sexist. Understandably, when they’re confronted with articles angrily railing against the boorish behavior of gamer boys, they take offense. Those jerks don’t speak for them. It’s a case of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch.

My friend Greg (the aforementioned houseguest) feels much the same way, as is evidenced by his Steam profile:

(I should mention that though Greg is a master troll, he is secretly one of the most progressive folks I know. I have always found his thinking to be positively third-wave feminist, though he’d probably hate it if I put that down in writing. Oops. And yes, he was a former guild officer, and no, any real harassment would not have flown under his watch.)

Chimp had another point, the crux of which has been detailed here before. I’m sadly going to cut down his full, wonderful story for length, but the gist of it is this: Chimp used to run a LAN café. One of the male regulars discovered that the player who was owning his face in Counter-Strike was, in fact, a ten-year-old girl named Tessa.

Because of Tessa, the phrases “you got beat by a girl” and “HEY SHOW ME YOUR TITS” phased out of the building extremely fast. She was no longer the 10 year old girl who was good at Counter-Strike. She was Tessa. And because of that, my regulars never gave any of the new female clientele any trouble. Although some got tongue-tied and hid behind monitors when the really pretty ones came in. I call it the “Jackie Robinson” effect. Black baseball players were frowned and shunned upon openly by the community. And all it took was one guy to break the norm and start getting people used to the fact that this is happening. Because of Tessa, the boys learned that there are girl gamers out there, and some of them are outstanding players.

And finally, the last email. It was from my mom, and it was seemingly unrelated to anything geeky. Rather, it was an article from the New York Times regarding Title IX violations in university athletics programs. In the past couple years.

I was incensed. Title IX?! Seriously? How could that possibly still be a thing?

And that’s when it clicked. In looking at a fight for equity in sports that still lingers after forty years, it dawned on me that I’d been missing the forest for the trees. See, what I wanted to write for you was something exploratory and sociologically intriguing. I wanted correlations and theories and a rough idea for why this sort of thing happens in the first place. But if I’d figured that out, I wouldn’t be writing this article at all. I’d be writing my Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech for solving the problem of good ol’ fashioned sexism. Because really, that’s all it is. It has nothing to do with the game, or the age group, or the type of guild. It just has to do with being human.

So here’s the problem with Vent:

Some people are mean.

For those of you who have gone through really rough times in game, I know this is over-simplifying. Yes, those encounters hurt. Yes, they’re unfair. Yes, it’s scary and infuriating to have some stranger’s voice coming into your home while you’re trying to unwind after work or school, preying on you solely because of your gender. But you’re still here. You’re still playing, just like the girls who fought for their own baseball gloves forty years ago. Hang in there. It is getting better. It’s just going to take some time.

And yes, gentlemen, some women take their ire too far. I know that many of you would never dare to say the things that get spat at us. Try to remember that the anger you’re encountering is often a defense mechanism. Tell the jerks to shut up and welcome the ladies who want to play.

If there’s one thing I want taken away from this mercurial wall of text, I want it to go out to anyone who might be avoiding multiplayer games or talking in voice chat. Maybe it’s because you’re a woman. Maybe it’s because you’re gay. Maybe it’s because you feel you’re too young, or too old. Maybe you think you’re just not good enough.

To hell with that.

There are jerks online, yes, and some of them can be downright cruel, particularly when anonymity comes into play. But that’s true anywhere. I’ve had my share of unpleasant things said to me at bars, but that doesn’t mean I shun such places in favor of drinking at home with my blinds drawn just because some idiot said something untoward about my boobs. If someone insults you, find someone else to play with. If a guild is giving you a hard time, find another one, or start your own. I cherish the friends I’ve made online, and I’ve had a blast gaming with them over the years. I hate the thought that people are missing out on this amazing digital playground solely because of those previously mentioned bad apples. Don’t let them win.

I’m going to close with a quote from Tina Fey’s book Bossypants. She’s talking about being a woman in management, but…yeah, you’ll get the idea.

If your boss is a jerk, try to find someone above or around your boss who is not a jerk. If you’re lucky, your workplace will have a neutral proving ground – like the rifle range or the car sales total board or the SNL read-through. If so, focus on that. Again, don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go “Over! Under! Through!” and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.

Indeed.

Becky Chambers is a freelance writer and a full-time geek. She blogs over at Other Scribbles.

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  • http://fempop.com Alexandra Hinton

    Amen. I played WoW for 4 years and led many a raid. There were times people commented on my gender, but it was exceptionally rare and easily dealt with (I can be a huge jerk myself if I want to be). Vent is a great thing. Now Xbox? That is a cesspool of unfocused teenage boys and it’s why the sexism is so bad. Completely different group of gamers.

  • http://twitter.com/MightySquid Kate Falanga

    I’m an Xbox gamer so I find online play to be especially a problem. I had tried playing a game like Halo with a mic before but really couldn’t handle the comments. I’ll play online multiplayer but I will do it in silence unless I know the players. It really takes all the joy over it.

    If I suck I just want it to be me who is sucking. If I suck and you know I’m a girl suddenly gender enters into it rather than ability. I should also note that I am not a very good player most of the time. I play casually for fun. Any kind of negative comment sucks the joy from it. So maybe you will kill me and I might even kill you but with a nick like mine you won’t know if I’m a girl or not. That’s how I prefer it.

    I envy your positive experience. Maybe someday I can have one of my own but with the way most Xbox multiplayer match up works I doubt I’ll be able to find the signal (non-horrible people of both sexes) to the noise (90% of Xbox live players).

  • Anonymous

    From a WoW perspective… 
    One of the first times I spoke up on vent, I was informed I was a “raid wiper” — because my sexy lady voice was just OMG TOO MUCH TOO HANDLE and caused all the guys to lose focus and stop tanking/healing. Another time I was in a 25 man pug and spoke on vent. All of a sudden people were saying “roll for friendship!” and I see all these /roll’s popping up on my screen. The guy who rolled highest actually bragged about his win and started whispering me. He would send me tells every time I logged in for a good month or two after that, asking why I wouldn’t be his friend anymore, etc. etc. Yikes.

  • http://twitter.com/Ipstenu Ipstenu

    Thank you.

    I’ve been online for *cough* longer than I want to admit sometimes, and I’m a gay girl gamer.  The amount of shit I’ve gotten from men (yes, the ‘show me you kissing your GF!’ variety) was nothing compared to the verbal abuse I got from other women out there.

    People suck.  But not everyone sucks.  If your Guilidies suck, walk away.

  • John Wao

    Great article.

  • http://www.extremelydissatisfied.wordpress.com Adam R. Charpentier

    Gasp! An optimistic article! This is the first I’ve seen on here!

    No, seriously. Not being sarcastic. Not counting geektastic articles (which I adore), all of the gender-issue articles have been wholly ”We shall overcome” or “Goddamit, penises piss me off!”

    And, yanno, I get it. I am rarely sexually harassed by anyone but my fiancee (my cries merely incite further incident and any tears will merely make the beast stronger) and I walk into practically every situation with the confidence of…well, a wallflower, but a wallflower that doesn’t have to worry about whether his panties are showing when he sits without crossing his legs or whether the slightly-taller-than-I individual speaking to me is actually invested in the conversation or merely perched for optimal breast-viewing. Hell, being mostly English and Canadian, the closest I’ve ever come to being offended by racial slurs was the day I had discovered the origin of “cracker” but that reaction had been mostly, “Oh, I get it! Ooh, that’s clever! …heeey…”

    So, I understand that I have a biased view. But. BUT. I have always been a fan of women. Not the lay-tays, bat-the-lashes-thrust-the-hips-make-guns-with-my-fingers-locked-n-loaded-for-love-boo-yeah, women. I always retain female friends even when I fall out of friendship with men. Why? Well, there are the obvious (sexist) answers. I would rather look at a woman, hear a woman speak, be in the presence and the company of a woman because I am a heterosexual male and that’s what grinds my crank or shifts my gear or some other car euphemism that I absolutely refuse to Google for accuracy-sake (fuck cars). And then there’s the opinions of a woman (I would rather hear), the anecdotes, the stories, the perspective, all of which I will never truly be a part of because of my chromosomal makeup. TBH, we are different. There is equality, which is good, but that is not sameness. So, I would rather be involved with people that are different from myself because that makes life interesting. New stimuli! Fresh wonders! Don’t misconstrue this as, “Women are like a buffet!” I’m no Casanova (more like a Casalatrina…uh…how do you say shithouse in Italian?).

    And dudes. Okay, so. I do have male friends. I don’t choose friends after checking under their skirts for wedding tackle. I’m not one of those guys is that is like, “I am a feminist! I know men are bad just like you!” Cuz I’m probably NOT a feminist (I don’t have the club card, at least) and though I recognize that our society is primarily ruled over by the progeny of rich white men, I haven’t done much to alter the course of history and I’m content to laze about in my privileged, lower income apartment. But I have never met a dude that I didn’t immediately recognize and understand. I get it, even if I don’t agree. Hell, half the time, it’s a case of been there and done that. Boring. So, even my male friends are fairly oddball, with extremely varying backgrounds or outrageous outlooks and upbringings.

    I have long since lost where I was going with this and the soapbox is starting to creak, so…oh, right. Okay, so. I’m going to be getting married soon and we’ve spent the last year or more, prior to our engagement, discussing names for our nonexistent, hypothetical children. I like alliteration, so I’m thinking Aaron (since my name is Adam) and Leigh, because my fiancee’s name begins with L. Just tossing it out there. We like a lot of hooky names, too, and I’d be pleased as punch with a son or daughter named Story or something keen like that. But in considering names, I’ve begun to imagine the world our children will live in. Our families tend to have daughters, so that would be a fair guess. She has a better than average chance of coming out with blonde–to-dirty-blonde hair, blue eyes…a whole set of biases just waiting for her to plug herself into. So, what kind of world will greet them? A geeky one, thanks to their parents, but hopefully a more accepting world. And so, I’ve sought out certain topics, become a follower of certain websites, and the lot tend to be grimmer than I would hope.

    So, I hope there are more articles like this. About the world getting better. About life being good today and (probably) tomorrow.

    Of course, if I have a son, I’ll just breathe a sigh of relief, hand him a trunk of Playboys and some beer. He’ll be fine. …kidding. (OR AM I?)

    No, I am.

    Oh, shit. P.S. I totally forgot to actually respond to the article (my bad)! I appreciated the heck out of it. In my experience, there seems to be less women-bashing and more homophobic messages. If you were to turn a game of Left 4 Dead into a drinking game, throwing one back every time someone Vents “Fag!” everyone listening would be unconscious by the second scenario.

  • http://www.extremelydissatisfied.wordpress.com Adam R. Charpentier

    What do women call each other on Vent? I’ve never encountered such a scenario.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Fry/100000825877478 Michael Fry

    That aside, tits or GTFO… lmao

    Nah just screwing with you, women/girls need to accept the fact they are different and there will be a bit of ribbing, I rib all my mates and I get it in turn because my accent is cockney so you get people saying “a’right guvner”, one fella I know sounds like hes from Jamaica and hes never been there so we were all putting on the crappiest accents ever lol

    The girls that I have played with either expect things because they are girls or they have as many balls as the guys and give as good as they get, there have been many kitchen and sandwich jokes but its all about the context and the humour/nature of the room, I have heard one woman say to a guy “now get back in the kitchen and make my sandwich b****” after beating him 1v1 in BO while we were all spectating, epic lolz moment.

    I do agree there are some that hide behind their anonymity and say whatever they like- only answer is man up and grab your balls and deal with it, ladies too, this is the internet and it doesn’t take prisoners unless they are dressed like slave Leia and offering sandwiches. ;) lol

  • http://twitter.com/barometry Barometry Jones

    “And then I figured out video games just have the same rampant sexism of the rest of our society, so really we women should calm down and not get so angry about it! And definitely we should all try not to hurt the feelings of all the non-sexist guys out there.”

    Seriously? This is the conclusion?

    I’m not opposed to optimism, and I’m not saying the internet is a terrible wasteland, but the fact is that women are the subject of more harassment than men in most contexts. Okay, so it’s not just video games, but I think it’s totally legitimate to get really angry about inequality and injustice, and to express that anger in public.

  • http://www.geekingoutabout.com Trisha Lynn

    I just got into WoW and I’ve been testing out all the races and classes to see which storyline and character mechanics I like the most (currently, my Undead Hunter is my highest character). Almost every time I start a character, I’ll get an invite to join a guild, which I turn down politely (in text) because my boyfriend is in one. And I don’t get PMs beyond that.

    A few years ago when I was playing FFXI, every now and then there would be someone making a sexist or racist remark in our guild, but I was quick to point out how I didn’t appreciate such comments, and they went away.

    I don’t think, however, that because individual experiences are okay, we should rest completely on our laurels and renounce the causes of feminism or egalitarianism. Because for every good story out there, other not-so-good ones lurk.

  • Anonymous

    It’s one thing to say “if the people you play with suck, just find new people to play with.” It’s another thing when you’re raid leading for a guild you’ve been leading for years when someone logs into your vent (with a password only guildies would know) to make rape threats at you midraid, and the reaction from this guild of friends you’ve been leading for years is half laughter, half silence.

    Yeah, I walked away. But frankly, it broke my heart a little, and I haven’t bothered trying to find new people to play with.

  • Anonymous

    that sucks, with no silver lining at all.  I am sorry that happened to you and I am sorry for the looser guildies who let you walk away after not supporting you.  Jackasses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/1shewolf JoAnna Luffman

    I play FPS games, I play MOBAs like League of Legends. I’ve gotten some comments, but not many. I’ve played competitively in Quake 1 (yeah, I’m old) and CS:S. 

    Most gamers don’t care anymore. You get some jackasses in pub games, but the vast majority of people just want you to not fail. Since failure pisses me off, I don’t fail. Therefore, I get no crap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Frederickson/852880113 Kristin Frederickson

    It differs greatly depending on what community you’re playing in. Playing WoW is pretty fantastic and rarely results in gender-bashing. Team Fortress and other Steam games are pretty good, and usually sexist remarks are made tongue-in-cheek, for the lulz. Playing on XBL or PSN is incredibly obnoxious and usually not worth it if you have an obviously female name or if you use a mic… Not that I normally have a functioning Xbox mic in the house. Those things are so cheaply made, they break if I just even look at them funny.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristin-Frederickson/852880113 Kristin Frederickson

    What assholes. It a shame you can’t get people banned for things they say in vent.

  • Francesca M

    I never had this problem on Vent/Mumble myself. The guys I hang out with have always been pretty cool, we give each other smack all the time but its never anything to do about Gender.  Though a running joke between girl guildies and myself is ‘Girls Don’t Play WoW!’ and our response is usually, ‘OH crap?? We don’t? Oh no whatever should I do.’ I never realized that there was an xbox live crowd on there. I’ve known so many girls who are too strong to ever take that kind of crap. I know they give as good as they get.  I’ve never felt like I was being skeezed on. Its always sort of a surprise when I hear this kind of story because WoW is just such a community. So I’m sorry when I hear about the bad stuff. I’m just really glad that isn’t my experience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alexandra-Wilding/100001790108322 Alexandra Wilding

    Wait, who goes on vent for SM? >.>

  • http://twitter.com/shinobi42 Shinobi

    The number of times women get harassed for being women while playing video games should be zero.  If it is not zero, there is still a problem.  And yes, it is a problem we can all work around, but working around is not the same as solving the problem.  We need to do both, we need to get around the jerks, and continue to make an issue of the fact that they are jerks, so that hopefully someday the jerkiness will stop.

  • http://twitter.com/Shalliw Shannon Halliwell

    I love games, but this is the reason I never started with online group play. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or guy, people are horrible, and frankly I rather avoid it all together then have to put up with one comment about my gender or race or sexual orientation. I had to deal with enough of it in high school. I’m good, thanks. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/RollerWitch87 Autumn Morales

    Mmmmmm…sandwiches…. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/RollerWitch87 Autumn Morales

    You know, I used to get all ticked off about comments guys made aaaaaand then I joined the Army. I’ve done combatives with Soldiers and Marines and when I win it’s not, “Oh man you got your tail kicked by a girl.” It’s “Sweet, you’re one of the guys now.” The conclusion I have drawn from this is, If you can put a Solder or Marine bigger and stronger than you on their backs, as a female you receive imaginary balls….hmm

  • Michael

    Everyone gets shit talked when playing online, not just women. It doesn’t matter if you have a penis or a vagina, people like to yell at others.

  • Anonymous

    tinyurl.com/2df4ccp

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had both good experiences and bad experiences on Vent…playing WoW, DDO, and a few others. For the most part, I stick with mature guilds (not ‘adult’ guilds’), and a lot of the people I play with are RL couples, married, with children, etc. I have, in the past, run raids with groups that thought misogynistic comments were perfectly okay…I was told I sucked as a tank because I was a girl (prior to speaking on Vent, I’d been told how good I was doing). Needless to say, I didn’t run with that group again.

    Honestly, it has as much to do with who you choose to hang out with online. Every game has good and bad players, and every game has decent people and douchebags. The trick is figuring out which is which.

  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

    Okay, here are some thoughts from an evolutionary biologist.  Ultimately life comes down to “survive and reproduce.”  Both survival and reproduction, whether you are a human being, slime mold, microbe, or whatever life form floats your DNA-directed little boat, depend on your ability to distinguish “us” from “them.”  We humans are hard-wired, to a certain extent, to do exactly that.  Hence why we NOTICE that someone else has a different gender/color/voice/size/age/(fill in the blank) from us.  What I am reading from all of you is that sometimes the people doing the noticing decide the differences matter in a context when they really don’t.  And sometimes the people doing the noticing recognize a situation in which the differences don’t matter at all.  So…how is gaming any different from human socialization in general?  LIFE has decent people and douchebags.  Hence why we still have things like Title IX.  And arguments over whether women can/must wear burkas in drivers’ license photos.  And vehement opinions about mosques in certain NY City locales.  And the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.  Because we’ll always notice, but sometimes we are misguided in the meaning we attach to what we notice. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OXYQ3EKPPMCOIAEL6PWCRU3QFU Jill

    I’ve played WOW for about…hmmm…5 years or so?  I’ve never had problems in VENT because I’m a girl.  Though I must admit that I don’t usually use vent in total PUGs.  I don’t do a lot of PUG raids (preferring to stick with my guild and associated friends) but the ones I have done have been fine.  I dunno.  Maybe I’m lucky.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OXYQ3EKPPMCOIAEL6PWCRU3QFU Jill

    Heh, I’ve noticed this in gaming circles too.  I was once told on the old MUD I used to play that I had bigger balls than most of the guys on my team because I would go on raids down in the PK zones while they’d hide in the castle.  I took great pride in that. :P

  • Anonymous

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  • Anonymous

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  • http://twitter.com/claireherting Claire

    Great article!  I just started playing WoW about a year ago and that was my first experience with Vent.  I haven’t encountered anybody who’s mean to me just because I’m a girl.  There were a couple of people who got overly friendly, but nothing ever got out of control.  There are 4 girls in my guild right now and the guys don’t heckle us unless we do something silly in game (and they heckle each other if they do something stupid too).

    One of my favorite things about being a girl on Vent is when I first talk.  If it’s a group of people who aren’t used to hearing girls’ voices while playing WoW, Vent suddenly gets very quiet, then someone breaks the silence and says “omg Tind you’re a girl!?”  I say “yep” and then we move on to talk about our strat or whatever.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a bit annoying when people say something like “This isn’t a problem, since all you have to do is be one of the best players in the game and then people will accept you.” This is an issue with a lot of things. People say “Look! Women who are the top 5% at gaming/science/programming/whatever are allowed to do what they do, so we have equality!” Not everyone can be the top 5%. In fact, only 5% can be the top 5%. It’s not equality when the women who are the best at what they do are accepted. It’s equality when Jane Schmoe can do what she does right next to Joe Schmoe and she’s just as accepted as he is.

    I shouldn’t have to become a professional gamer just to be accepted in a gaming community. When someone harasses me, I don’t have the luxury of easily beating them in PVP to teach them a lesson, because I’m an average to below average player. Not to mention that it’s a lot more difficult to become a great player without community support anyway.

  • Anonymous

    This is exactly the thing. It’s true that there are only a few rotten apples in the bunch, but the problem is that the rest of the bunch accepts those rotten apples. I had a sort of similar experience recently, playing with people I thought were my friends. While we were playing and skyping, one of them announced that his girlfriend left him, and then he went on to graphically describe all the violence and degradation “that bitch” deserved. My other “friends” chipped in, jokingly offering to form a posse to go and beat her up.

    When I told them that they were scaring me (not just offending me, but scaring me), they told me that I “have to admit” that the “bitch” deserves it and pressured me to join in coming up with violent and degrading things to do to her or else I’m a bad friend or something. I’ve been friends with these people about a year now, so I was totally unprepared for this. I’m hesitant to try and make new friends in the game again.