Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Seriously, you're a girl!? So what?

I recently saw a comic strip from Cheshire Cat Studios that gave me pause. Take a moment to follow the link so you have a basis of what I am talking about. Gender equality in gaming. Yep, I am going to throw my hat into the ring of gender equality in gaming.
First I should say what gender equality in gaming means to me. It's pretty simple really. We are all human beings and deserve to be treated as such. There is no difference in how I treat a man or a woman when it comes to my interactions in games.
Many of you know I am a gamer - I play Magic: The Gathering and World of Warcraft. These tend to be some of the biggest, most well-known games and have a huge base of players.
When it comes to Magic I am a player, tournament organizer, and a judge. This allows me to see things on many different levels when it comes to the players I interact with.
As a player, I see no difference in my preparations when squaring off against a female or male player. I could care less about their sex because for me it's all about their skill. If they are a quality player I need to be on my toes. If not, then I still need to be on my toes.
As a low-level judge, I interact with judges who are higher level than I am and who are in a position of leadership. Do I care if they are male or female? Nope, I still treat them with the respect they deserve and frankly have earned. If they tell me to do something then I need to do it.
Same goes when I am acting as a tournament organizer.
But this is face-to-face. What about in an MMO where I have anonymity? I pretty much act the same.  
Sure if I am with a bunch of guys on vent my jokes and even my language gets a little crass. When you put a woman in the mix I tend to clean it up until such time as she shows otherwise. Perhaps this is a sexism issue? I don't think so. I think of it as a respect issue.
But what do I know? Especially since I am a man in a male dominated past time. So I decided to reach out to a friend of mine who is not only a woman but in a position of leadership within my guild.  
I give you my friend and guild leader – she shares it with her husband Xirek – Labellanotte (Belles)
PC: As a woman gamer, and particularly a woman gamer in a position of leadership, do you feel like your male counterparts take you seriously?
Belles: I'd give that a very conditional yes. Conditional for a few reasons. The first, and biggest, reason that I feel that I'm taken seriously is that Xirek and I founded and grew the guild from the ground up, I had a VERY strong say in what was acceptable and what was not. Second of all, a lot of our "hot shot" guys who might otherwise railroad over me have seen me as a leader pretty much from the beginning --- since I've been around way longer than they have been. It's easier to have that level pre-established than to try to start from scratch. Third of all, I'm not a leader entirely on my own. I'm co-leader with Xirek (who you might say has a bit of charisma working in his favor), and he will never back down if I need his support on something. Last of all, where I am a leader on my own is in the healing circle, which has a FAR greater % of women involved in it than any other role. It's like nursing. You see a LOT of women in leadership when it comes to nursing ---- but look at just how prevalent women are in that particular profession. I don't feel that I would get the same level of respect or get taken as seriously as I do in ANY other place.
PC: Interesting. I guess I am weird then. I see things pretty black and white. I don't care if you are male or female, if you are in charge, well then dammit you are in charge. I think it's sad that I can see exactly why you say what you are saying. I hate this world more and more each day.
Belles: Well I'd refer to you as a more "enlightened" man than the norm.
You can either hate it or try to change it for the better
PC: I agree. The way I make change is by being an example and raising my boys that way.
Belles: Good plan

Belles and I carried on for a bit longer as she made more examples that I have otherwise missed. She also made some points that, and I have to believe it is because I am male and am not as sensitive to this as she is, again I missed.
It should be noted that I am an officer in this guild (Guardians of Fellowship/The Scryers) and interact with both Belles and Xirek on decision making for the guild.
I want to continue with some of our conversation as I think she brings up some excellent points.
Belles: It's not entirely unusual for women to not even speak online....just the fact that there's a female voice coming through the speakers can be enough to set off some of the more vile gamers out there.
PC: Disgusting people. Drives me crazy.
Belles: Think of the entire social conversation we've been having the last several years. All the arguments to try to tear down Roe vs Wade. The fight against income equality. Gamergate. And I don't agree with it. I have a spine, but I don't know if I could deal with what Felicia Day (for example) has in the last few weeks.

Thank you, Belles!

For those that do not know, Gamergate is a movement that began in August of this year. I actually do not know a lot about this so I am posting a link to a Wiki about it here.
I know there are more important issues when it comes to gender equality than gaming. I understand and am in support of it. Wages should be based on qualifications, not gender. I think woman have the right to say what happens to their bodies – yes I am pro-choice. And while I enjoy the female form, I think the sexualization of woman needs to end. Seriously, seeing a woman eating a cheeseburger, in a bikini, doesn't inspire to eat. It's kinda gross.
How do we end it? I don't know. I know we need to stand up for it. I know we need to raise our voices in support of it. But what else?
For me, it's just like I said to Belles – raising my boys to respect woman and treat them equally.
So as I wrap this up I want to make some suggestions:
  1. Stop being an ass. That woman sitting in front of the keyboard is just as good (or as bad) as anyone else who plays whatever game you are playing.
  2. Show some respect. Somewhere along the way we forgot about respecting each other. My 8th grade English teacher taught me about R.O.S.R. Real Or Simulated Respect. While I don't respect everyone (you have to do something pretty messed up to lose my respect) I show it until you take it away.
  3. When it comes to social media, say nothing  you wouldn't say in person. This seems to be where a lot of harassment comes from these days and it sickens me.
So that's it for now. I think I am going to plug into this for a bit. Sorry if the topic bores you, but I feel like I need to lend a voice to this cause. 

#gamerequality #gamergate #FeliciaDay #Boogie2988