Video games are not supposed to be realistic.
They are supposed to put the player in a situation that they would never be in otherwise. That situation could put you on a rooftop in a war torn village looking to snipe enemies or have you casting spells that allow you to hurl fireballs at snake-men.
The situation you’re put in depends on the game. The unfair treatment of women in those games however is widespread.
I play World of Warcraft with a female avatar. While participating in a quest, the male characters I was grouped up with began making cruel, unfair and unnecessary comments directed towards myself and a female friend who was also playing.
One of the male characters began calling my friend ‘he’ and when she corrected him comments such as ‘Oh that’s cute, chicks don’t play games,’ and ‘Girls suck at games, just give up now,’ were said. These comments worsened when I tried to defend her.
We dealt with this for a few more minutes and then she messaged me asking if I would leave the mission with her because she was feeling extremely uncomfortable.
After this experience I began to doubt my decision to play with a female avatar. Many women gamers deliberately play as male characters to protect themselves from harassment. If they played as male characters, their game play wouldn’t change and they wouldn’t be subject to sexist comments and condescension.
Immediately I felt shocked that these random gamers had shaken my self-esteem so badly. I know it’s not just me who feels this way.
Many people play online games to escape the grind of daily life and to make friends who share our interests. When this happens it’s insulting, hurtful and yet seen as a normal part of the online gaming experience.
This does not encourage women to continue to game and perhaps that is the intent.
As a female gamer, I want to tell you that video games do not belong to men alone.