“Oh my God, are you a girl?”

The new age of video games and how players treat women.

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Female professional video gamer plays an MMORPG on her computer. (http://www.lyncconf.com/)

Samantha Fago ‘24

From the dawn of the internet to present day, it seems like the amount of harassment women receive online hasn’t changed. Though women make up 40% of online video gamers, it seems there are less and less every day. Putting it simply, most women just don’t turn on their microphones anymore.

As a woman who regularly uses one, I understand where they are coming from. Often, I’m harassed in a game just because I’m a girl, even when I do better than all the men on my team consistently.

Women should be able to exist in gaming just like men always have, and those online can learn to treat each other with respect instead of constantly being toxic towards each other.

Many games are well known for having toxic communities, which causes many female players to shy away from speaking in game or playing all together. Communication is an essential component of online multiplayers, so this stigma between players can cause many problems, especially in competitive games.

The most common response to discussions about harassment is “just mute,” but this does not solve the previously mentioned problem and encourages the behavior to continue. If no one speaks up, these men will just keep harassing other women. Even if someone says something, its not likely they’ll listen to them.

But this problem is more prominent in the higher ranks. Many higher-level male players judge female players and say things like “no way you’re this good.” Many times, they intentionally try to sabotage their female teammates, yell in their ears, or just be downright rude.

From my perspective, many women who play video games are hesitant to talk until they hear me. Many times, they just type in chat before I say anything. And that shouldn’t have to be the case. Every time I meet one of these girls in game, I make sure to lift them up and be the best teammate I can. It’s the least I can do because this is such a constant issue.

Toxicity in gaming is a major problem, especially against women, to a point where every woman online has a story. Men should be able to control themselves when a woman turns on her mic. A small act of kindness can go a long way and starting with respect never hurts.

Is there a solution to this problem? No. But we can prevent it by spreading kindness online and speaking out for others if they are getting harassed.