The following is a personal essay by a friend of mine. She's given me permission to share it here, as she does not want to start her own Kinja account. The source page is linked at the very end. (It's a deviantArt, and you should check out her other pieces. She's done some really gorgeous artwork!)
*****Riyoku would prefer that this not be mainpaged, please.*****
A while ago, someone I knew and I were talking because I just got Skyrim from my boyfriend and he's played it. I asked him to help me walk through the beginning because I wasn't sure how the play worked. Of course I kept running into walls and the such. I don't usually play anything other than League of Legends and a few puzzle games. First Person POV is practically completely novel (the closest I tried was Assassin's Creed II, which I played for about 50 min). The next day, he told me that he was talking to a friend of his, an acquaintance of mine nicknamed "Skarr," about how I wasn't doing too well. His friend mentioned something to the effect of "Nothing stops the boner of women playing games than actually watching women play games." I laughed with him when he said that, but something didn't feel right, so I wrote the below to him today.
So after a few days of thinking, the weird feeling I got from that comment Skarr made about women playing video games actually became a bother. I hadn't really thought of it as offensive at first, probably because I'm so used to being offended and so used to lying down to it that it didn't hit me as anything more as off-color. It was sort of funny from a guy's point of view. With each passing day, though, I found it less and less funny.Today I went to the grocery store with my boyfriend and I was deciding what snacks I wanted for the week. I was debating on whether or not I get to buy this one Chinese dessert I quite liked when I thought, "It's too expensive because the utility derived per gram isn't worth the the cost per gram." But then my boyfriend told me, "You should get what you enjoy. Your parents will judge you about what you want and what you don't want, but I'm not going to." He basically said that he wouldn't get mad at me for spending 7 dollars on a set of packages that would last me 3 weeks.
So it was then that I remembered, "Oh, the reason I don't play games well isn't because I'm female. It's because I was never allowed to play them." I don't have terrible motor skills. Heck. I haven't even died yet in Skyrim and I've hit level 3. I just needed to turn down the lag and I actually have no navigation problems anymore except for vision at close-range, which takes some finesse for anyone anyway. In fact, I should have good dexterity from training my typing from age 5, on an English keyboard, before I even learned English, so much that by 3rd grade I had a healthy 50wpm that many kids in high school would have been jealous of. I played piano for so long that I can literally play a song by ear that I've never played before WITH MY EYES CLOSED. (Tested this out on the Madoka opening. True story.)
I thought, it's probably not that we women are all bad at video games. Video games have been dominated by men for so long that the concept of female gamers became a turn-on a while back because it was a rising novelty. Girls are often less exposed to games because parents find them unnecessary for daughters who, being traditionally inclined toward more caring things, should not be slaughtering others in graphic gunfights or crashing cars in criminal chases. Even the men around us, who claim to like gamer girls, will treat us differently when we touch games. Some of them will try to offer all they help they can just because you're a girl. That spoils girls who accept the gifts. They don't ever get to learn how hard a game is and when there's no one to help, they rage at how much they suck. There are also girls who won't accept the gifts but see that they ARE being treated differently. To them, this is an act of discrimination.And then there are men who believe that girls just should not game. It doesn't matter what reason it is, but they stop us from gaming when we have the opportunity to do so. Even you did. That time we went to the mall and went to a gaming parlor where we sat down and you showed me guitar hero. Rather than letting me try things until I got my motor skills down, you might have let me try something once or twice when I asked, but it was mostly you playing. Even afterwards when we went to your home, rather than offering to let me try guitar hero, you only wanted to "show me something real quick."
That was why the first game I was truly exposed to long-term was League of Legends. People say I'm bad... when I play ADC. Of course I'm bad as an ADC. I play support, a role with practically the opposite mentality and a role that my plat and diamond-ranked friends have praised me for. I'm a thinker, not a bruiser. The amount of times I've predicted the location of an enemy gank correctly and helped my ADC capitalize on it is high, considering the few amount of normal games I've played. But I've been fed so many things about how terrible I must be at games because I'm female and been denied so many opportunities to just try a game for longer than 5 minutes. Can you learn how to read a simple score knowing nothing about how the score works, then play it on a violin which you also don't understand at all... both in under 5 minutes? It might be simpler in a game but the motor skills required take getting used to. Those skills have been honed in a lot of boys from as early as age 5, just as early as I was when I learned how to type.
So I want to tell Skarr that. I could care less about his boner and I don't even want to demand an apology from him. I just want him to think on this and consider the implications. As far as I'm concerned, I'm a cautious-as-fuck player on Skyrim, but I've developed my own combat strategies based on my personal experiences. I know how to sneak around corners, if not do so quickly, and I know that if I out-run the skeletons and pin myself into a corner, once they catch up, they can only attack me one at a time and only from the front. This gives me the defensive advantage. I might still be clumsy and I might still not understand videogame logic, but I stopped running into walls in under 2 hours of total play. I will get better... but I will still be female.
It really strikes me as odd that I'm allowed, now, to think as a girl and not always try to fit myself into a guy's point of view, being considerate all the time about what a guy might think would be funny. Even if I think like a man, I won't be treated as one... but if I think like a man, I won't be treated as a girl either. What am I, then? I'm simply ashamed, right now, that it took me 4 days to solidly arrive on this conclusion about girls, guys and games after the fact that I did my senior independent study on repositioning the image of girl gamer on Tumblr. I wrote about this in my term paper. Why didn't I recall it?
Or was I simply being a coward, unable to say immediately to his face that what his friend said was rude? Was it because I didn't want to be viewed as a feminist or some flimsy chick who was easily offended? Or was it because I called him out on something he misinterpreted and that he said "I'll concede the point if _____?" When I gave him the evidence that the "if" of his ultimatum had always been there, he said, "You don't have to be such a bitch about it." But what part of that was me being a bitch if he was the one making ultimatums over a point that was wrong from the beginning? I apologized, even called myself a bitch to make up for it, and told him that I was just sick of losing all the time. I must have been afraid that he'd call me a bitch about it again for opposing an idea.
I'm the type who would rather not debate something than debate it, not because I dislike intelligent conversations. It's because I find myself too often being pinned against a wall by an argument so wrong that I don't have time to disprove it in a single argument. I find myself too often facing a debater whose only goal is to pound me into the ground and prove I am wrong, not to discuss the purpose of the original point at hand.
I've been told that I beat people to death with my nihilism. The person who told me that apparently finds it appalling that he can't engage me on a creative level. I cried for a day about that. I'm not nihilist because it was what I chose. What I chose was to survive as a person who conflicts with purpose rather than a person who conflicts for fun, as someone who would rather get something done than talk about something getting done. Nihilism was simply what got me closest to that ideal.
As much as I hate debating and discussions like this, though, I thought I'd put this out. A lot of you, my watchers, play games. Many of you are female and many of you are male. Maybe there are a lot of people who identify with other genders here as well. I don't know. I don't care because all of you should have equal access to these thoughts of mine.
TL;DR: Please don't call me a bitch just because I disagree with you and decide to use all caps to deliver evidence since I don't know how to use italics on Skype. :I I have feelings and it hurts.