What do all of these games have in common?
If you said that they are all first-person shooters with a large community and voice-chat abilities, you’d be correct! However, you would be missing a key part of each of these gaming experiences.
It’s not uncommon for female gamers, most notably the ones who are brave enough to speak in voice chat, to receive hate just for being women. An article written for Bennett College News interviewed a 22-year-old female Valorant player, Hannah Bowman, where she stated “I won’t solo queue because I’m a girl, even if I do a solo queue I definitely won’t speak.” Sadly this is a common occurrence in many male-dominated games, especially those with voice chats or known toxic environments.
When speaking in-game, it is really a 50/50 chance as to whether or not your teammates will be nice or rude, then for women, you can expect to add another 50/50 split between experiencing crude comments against you because of your gender. Not speaking in the chat is one way to prevent rude comments from being thrown your way, but why should women be forced into silence out of fear of being criticized?
The short answer: they shouldn’t.
Allowing men to bully women into silence over the internet is just another way that women are losing independence and control over the patriarchy. This cycle of women standing up for themselves and then immediately being brought back down will only continue as younger generations join online games.
I have noticed that when speaking in a voice chat mixed with younger and older players, the younger players will be generally nicer to me until an older player speaks down on my gameplay or gender. This then prompts the younger players to bully me in an effort to impress their older counterparts. Herein lies the problem.
Not only are we facing a cycle of men putting down women, but we are also seeing a pattern of men putting down women in the presence of boys. The boys, who look up to older men, proceed to treat women in future games with the same kind of disrespect as their elders.
So how can we stop this cycle before it forces women out of the gaming community?
We could start with showing rather than telling. Instead of telling young boys, or men still willing to listen, that it’s not nice to look down on women for their gender we can each take a moment to monitor what we say in voice chat. Instead of yelling insults or slurs, we can give credit where credit is due and include everyone in gaming celebrations. Did they manage three headshots last round? Tell them how dope that was! Did someone say something rude in chat? Call them out on it! Let’s create a gaming environment fueled by positivity rather than negativity.
I think we’ll all be surprised to see how many people were just following the loudest guy in the room.