A month ago Sea of Thieves was released on Tuesday 20th March. This is a great game to play with friends, however I tried it alone on the weekend after release. Well the Sunday in particular, with a very dodgy wrist so I was holding my controller in a really weird way just to try it. I decided as at that point I had no friends online who were playing it, and had only come across one person online that I alluded to here, I went to Looking for Group. This is a very useful feature on Xbox One and I have used it before but this experience left me feeling a bit cold and reminded me of a conversation I had had a while before.
Looking down the looking for group posts at the time I did was not the most inclusive time to look apparently. So within a week of release (Tuesday to Sunday) you had the people who had been playing since launch daily as they were looking for people with high levels in this or that and only experienced players. To be honest, these weren’t the ones that reminded me of the conversation and made me feel unwanted. The ones that made me feel cold were the ones with “no girls”, “no female gamers” and “guys only” or similar wording. Also before someone asks, I don’t just mean in the tags where is says “No. before whatever tag” as they were “No. No girls” or “No. Guys only” and such like. There were quite a few of these when I saw the posts and was looking for a group to join. (I have since tried again and not seen this sort of post so it could have just been that time I was looking and by no means do I generalise this to everyone acts this way or would specify groups wanted in this way.) As you can perhaps guess now, as I haven’t made it clear before, I am female. Perhaps I was taking this the wrong way, perhaps I was overly sensitive as I was in a lot of pain and annoyed that my plans that weekend had gone due to the pain, but I wanted to play this exciting new game and with others to have the experience of Sea of Thieves as a crew. Looking at those posts was isolating and not what I think the gaming community is all about in my opinion.
The assumptions seem to be that women are not welcome, are perhaps not as skilled and will be a liability and useless to join in. Almost like they can’t be gamers. Ok maybe I am exaggerating a bit there (though I have had similar comments made to me in the past in person and online) but the conversation that I was reminded of kind of implied these things in one way or another as I will come to. So for me it was more the conversation that made it stick with me.
The conversation this reminded me of was something that I’m sure many others have experienced and I think this is why seeing those posts annoyed me. I was talking to someone in a get to know you thing and I happened to mention I enjoy playing games. Shock horror apparently. The response of “Really? But you are a girl?” struck me. I hadn’t had that response by anyone else within recent months, I mean I had comments before but I hadn’t recently, though I tend to stay away from online gaming so that could be part of it. I also don’t often advertise my gaming love unless there is something that makes it come up. Although my selection of gaming t-shirts, other clothing and geeky things could count as a clue if you knew they were gaming related, some are more obvious gaming ones than others.
The assumption was I was a girl and could not like gaming. The assumption following on from this, after I cleared up that yes indeed I am female, and yes I really do enjoy playing games, was that Player 2 must have got me into games. Since he is male and therefore it is ok for him to enjoy gaming so he must have got me to play. Sadly for their assumptions I have been playing games since I was a child, well before I met Player 2, although it is something that we share enjoyment of. Apparently it is fine that we both love taking photos, for example, but gaming must be down to him and not me.
Then we went into what kind of games I play and if I can be good at games as a girl. I suggested a range of games I enjoyed, from adventure games to puzzle games to strategy games to platformers to role playing games and so on. Apparently this was unbelievable as I had to confirm that. I did discover that this person had only heard of about three games, League of Legends (as their boyfriend and brother played that), Call of Duty and GTA (due to the media presence and how these titles are quoted when it comes to video games and violence when that subject raises it’s head). So I may have expanded their gaming knowledge (a little bit anyway if they even remember this conversation). The “good at games” thing is a tricky one, one I plan to discuss at some point, but I did say that isn’t a question with a simple answer.
My main point from this ramble of discussion is something that I think this community knows completely. It is that women can play games. Women can enjoy games. Women can be good and highly skilled at games. Women can be in all parts of the gaming industry and community. I may not always be skilled at games but I can still enjoy them. Don’t underestimate women, there are so many women in gaming that I admire and so many in this community I could just sit and name them and be here all day. Most people, or at least I hope most people, don’t care what gender you are if you enjoy playing games then you are a gamer and welcome in the community. That is the experience I want and the one I want to show others. I also want this to be the case for Sea of Thieves, one which my initial attempt was not.
I just want everyone to be included in the gaming community as anyone can enjoy playing games. Having since gone back to Sea of Thieves, briefly alone and for a bit longer as part of a group found by Looking for Group I say it could be a great experience. Maybe it was just my bad luck the first time. The conversation, on the other hand, is likely to come up at a moments notice and be something that I have to experience again in the future. Maybe the next time there won’t be so much shock at me enjoying games out of my choice. I can hope.