Do me a favor. Picture a gamer. What immediately comes to mind? Now specifically picture a female gamer. How do you portray her?
Not all “girl gamers” are the same.
Female gamers have an interesting reputation online. According to the Internet, you’re either sexy and suck at games or you’re ugly and too good.
In my opinion, part of the issue is a handful of popular female gamers that became well known on the platform known as Twitch. Female Twitch streamers that get paid to wear minimal clothing, have no interest in video games and purposefully cause drama on camera make me quite angry. I, as well as many other gamers, enjoy playing games and want people to watch my streams for fun and quality, not for the way I dress or act on camera. The female streamers that say they will “twerk in front of the camera any time someone 'donates' money to their stream” are ruining the girl gamer reputation. Those particular streams get thousands of views per week, and whether they think so or not, they are representing all of us.
This may be part of the reason some female gamers are hassled online.
Imagine a teenage boy whose only exposure to a female gamer is the underdressed dramatic twerker on Twitch. By the time he launches "Halo 5" and is placed in a match with a girl, his opinions have formed in his mind about her abilities and motivations. These assumptions lead to unfair critiques of her game and personality. Expectations are immediately lowered and comments are made such as, “Is your boyfriend playing for you?” along with other crude or inappropriate comments.
That being said, not all “guy gamers” are the same, either.
I have been lucky enough to find a community, specifically in Halo that recognizes that I am a female and treats me no differently. Yes, sometimes there is the joke every once in a while, but nothing different than what is said to the dudes. I have, in my mind, successfully broken the barrier in my Spartan company. I have gained respect as a gamer in their eyes.
Here’s my question: why should I have to?
No matter what your gender identity is, gamers should be able to enter their virtual worlds alongside fellow nerds to embark on badass adventures. Video games are just that — games. Technology has just made it easier to join up with anyone across the country and across the world! Unfortunately, technology has also opened multiple doors for harassment and judgment.
I challenge you. When you launch your Xbox, PlayStation, or computer this evening, invite others to just have fun! Just relax and use video games the way they were intended — as an interactive and entertaining art experience.