Happy Monday, Internet! As you may have noticed, I skipped last Thursday’s post. Apologies, but sometimes life gets in the way of our hobbies. As Christmas is fast approaching and the weather is becoming more frigid, the entire country has come down with the flu. I’ve spent the last week sipping Lemsip and feeling awfully sorry for myself, so I decided to skip last week’s second post in favour of sleep.
Those of you who have had the pleasure of working retail at this time of year will also understand the increased amount of workload and pressures that come with the golden quarter. I find myself doing more and more overtime, but it can’t be helped. Throw organising my move to the UK on top, and you’ve got a very busy blogger. Am I a blogger yet? I don’t know how this stuff works. Nevertheless, I shall persevere. This week, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on one of the most hostile hobbies I have: online gaming.
So, if you ask anybody I know to describe me in a few words, you’ll probably get, “she plays video games” from a few. You can thank my older brother for that. I remember sitting on his bedroom floor, watching him play Final Fantasy VIII, my favourite in the series, on his PlayStation. He played Diablo II and World of Warcraft on our crappy home computer with dial-up internet. I used to take his Game Boy Colour when he was at school and play Pokemon Gold for hours on end, hoping he’d never noticed. That one was definitely the best in the old school series. I also remember when we’d play Sonic the Hedgehog on our dusty Sega Mega Drive – that was years ago, when the bad guy was known as Doctor Robotnik. Screw that guy, seriously.
This time of year always comes with the question, what’s the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Oh, let me tell you. On Christmas Day, in the year 2000, I sleepily made my way to the family room, eager to unwrap what awaited me. Guys, my parents had given me a really, really old, but still functional, PC with none other than the Sims. And so began my dark descent in to the rabbit hole that is gaming.
Fast forward to 2015, and I’ve ventured in to more and more worlds. Mostly single player, I should add. That’s important. By now, Luke (my doting partner whom I’ve gushed about in my last post) has convinced me to take up World of Warcraft, despite my hesitation. You see, most people are aware of the stigma that comes with being a female on the internet. To be honest, I was terrified. I wasn’t the strongest of character back then, so I didn’t like to put myself in vulnerable positions. Nevertheless, I enjoyed WoW a lot, but only dared to join groups of others for raids and dungeons if Luke was with me. The internet is a scary place.
Then, just over a year ago, Overwatch was released. Although I disliked most of the big titles in the FPS ( first person shooter) genre, I gave it a go. I fell in love with this game. The art style, the characters, the mechanics, the soundtrack, the voice acting. It was amazing. There’s a catch, though. It’s highly team based. As in, you have to communicate with whoever is on your team, if you want to have any chance of wining a match. Oh, and Luke wasn’t a big fan, so I was on my own.
For the first few months, I was content with playing a few games here and there without interacting whatsoever with my teammates. Eventually, though, Blizzard, the guys who made the game, announced the launch of competitive play. Now, I’m not a very competitive person. I generally don’t care about winning or losing, as long as I’m enjoying myself. This, however, was different. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I wasn’t terrible at this game. I wasn’t awful. I wanted to try competitive games. I wanted to play more seriously.
Sounds fine, right? I wanted to up my game, so a competitive play style seemed just the thing for me. People take competitive play quite seriously. There’s strategies to decide, optimum team builds to base plays on, flanking tactics to discuss, positioning to get right, enemy sightings to relay, abilities to sync… there’s a lot of communication needed. From everyone. Including me. So I bit the bullet, bought a cheap microphone, joined a game and said, “hey.” What’s the worst that could happen? I’m sure it’ll be fine, right?
“Oh my god, are you a girl? Are you hot? I bet you’re hot.”
“We have a girl, we’re going to lose. No point in playing.”
“I’m reporting you for playing, you shouldn’t be allowed online.”
“Get back to the kitchen where you belong and make me a sandwich.”
“Shut the fuck up and suck my dick, that’s all you’re good for.”
“Uninstall the game and go get fucked, that’s all women are for.”
“I hope you get cancer for buying this game.”
“Death upon your family for your terrible plays!”
“I hope you die alone, go kill yourself, you fucking bitch.”
Yeah, I wish I was making this up. Those are the tame ones that I can remember, but there have been many, many more. A good few involve my mother as well, but I’m just not going to repeat those. It was rough, and I actually stopped playing for a few weeks because of how ridiculously uncomfortable I felt online. The stupid thing is, the game wouldn’t have even started before the slurs began. There’s a 45 second or so delay before the start of any match in Overwatch, so I actually wouldn’t have had a chance to show off my skills (or lack thereof) before all this abuse would start. It’s ridiculous.
Now, for every bad apple, there were a few good ones. I made some great friends on my travels, which I am forever grateful for. A few of us used to play together every night, and they’d have my back as soon as anyone started giving me shit. It was nice to know that not everyone online was a dick. Thanks to those three guys, I began to enjoy my favourite game again. I wasn’t worried about the derogatory things that would come my way, and I even learned to laugh them off. We used to make jokes about it, in the end. I remember being screamed at in another language by a man , to which we’d reply with things like, “yeah my day was alright, thanks. You?” This would just annoy whoever was screaming at me, and they’d eventually give up. For that, I am grateful. Stephen, Nathan, and Chris, if any of you ever read this, thanks for putting the joy back in Overwatch for me. Dream team.
As for now, though, I usually find myself playing alone. As I get home from work well in to the evening, my friends have usually gone to bed, or are otherwise inaccessible. Back to the solo games for me! This time around, though, I’m much more equipped to deal with the bad apples, as I call them. It just makes me sad that I have to be equipped at all. Although it’s been quite a while since I’ve left the game feeling like a sack of crap, it does still occur from time to time.
Thankfully, I can say that the frequency of this hate speech has diminished over the last year or so. Although there can be quite a few toxic players, it’s less common for the source to come directly from a female being present on the team. Yay, progress! It does still occur, but only in about 1 in 5 games as opposed to 1 in 2 at launch. Thanks to the reporting system, I can just report a user for inappropriate behaviour, block them, and move on to the next match. Water off a duck’s back, but it took a year to get there.
Moral of the story? Fuck anyone that tells you that you can’t do, play, or say something because they don’t think you should. Sure, I’m talking about video games, but really it goes for anything. And the best way to get back at someone giving you shit? Keep calm, use your manners, and let them know that they should concentrate on their gameplay instead of yours. Don’t feed the trolls, even if it is a little fun to.
That’s all I’ve got for you today. We’re getting festive on Thursday, so I’ll see you then! I’m off to go kick some ass in Overwatch.
~ Claire x