written by Eden Da Costa
Before anyone is triggered let me just say, not all my experiences have been the same for every gaming female and not all males have reacted the same way. In fact, in my experience, most of the men I’ve had contact with, either on console or on PC have been rather welcoming.
I don’t have the gaming history most hardcore gamers do. When I was nine, I became obsessed with RuneScape, an online open-world game While playing this game I made a lot of friends over the nine years I played it. But even in those early years, I was told daily by people I’d meet in Lumbridge Castle, the ‘social scene’ of RuneScape in those days, that ‘games aren’t for girls’. Still, I would sit on my laptop playing until the crack of dawn under my covers, much to my mother's disapproval.
My console experiences were then limited to that of an old transparent purple Game Boy Advance with the only game owned being Super Mario. With the occasional mess around on Rayman and Sonic the Hedgehog on my brothers Playstation 2. But being single-player and offline I escaped the harshness of some people's opinions.
At the age of sixteen, however, I was introduced into the Xbox world full force. I suffered from anxiety and depression from a young age and it largely impacted my life in the real world, so I buried myself in Bungies online game Destiny. In the space of 3 years I’d accumulated over 4,000 hours and made an amazing group of friends thanks to Carl Byard and Michelle Beadle who formed a clan known as OPGaming.
In this time, however, I’d also had many bad experiences with online gaming. LFG sites introduced me to people who believed that female gamers were all bad. That I played to get male attention. I’d get harassed over messages asking for inappropriate photos of myself. Often accused of being a 12-year-old boy and lying about my gender, I’d often go along with it just to avoid any further messages.
This sadly happened a lot in my real life too, when people learned I gamed and streamed, I would be accused of lying, saying it was just for male attention.
The sun still rises though! At the age of 23 I’m happy to say that in my personal experience, the abusive messages and harassment is not as severe. The stigma around girl gamers has eroded with the growth of the gaming and esports industry. With more females showing their pride and skill, the worst I’ll get these days is being called an ‘egirl’.
That is not to say, it is all sunshine and roses. There is still, and probably always will be an element of sexism in the industry just as it still exists in any other industry. Even within my own group of fellow students, there is the small club of students who throw out a constant barrage of sexist comments, even going so far as to claim “no-one will listen to you because you’re a girl” when you are elected a group leader for a task. When life, in general, is being obnoxiously difficult, it can be hard to ignore these jibes and a girl’s confidence can be severely eroded.
With more and more females joining the industry, there is hope that these negative attitudes will eventually become an insignificant part of the experience.