Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Female Gamer in a Professional World

There is a lot of complexity in what seems to be such a simple title. But I can break it down into three categories: Female gamer, gamer in a professional world (at work), and gamer in a professional world (as a senior in college).

Being a female gamer certainly does have its challenges. Hell, being a female nerd has its challenges. When I first started getting more into the nerdy stuff, I realized there were some comic book stores I simply couldn't go to. There were places where I would walk in, and everyone would stare at me. I hated it. Yeah I'm female, and I'm pretty, but that doesn't mean I want to be stared at for going into a comic book store. But it has gotten to a point where I know which comic book stores will have a clientele that is most accepting of everybody. One of the comic book stores I frequent even has females working in the store. It's nice to see places that are so accepting, but I have to say, it sucked at first, and made me not want to go to comic book stores. Finding the places where I feel I belong has made it so much easier. The only time it's still kind of a problem is on Free Comic Book Day where I tend to get some looks no matter where I go. But that day is only once a year and it's worth it because free comic books.

In games, it's a different story. In WoW, I most often play a male character. There have been very obvious differences between how people treated me before and after knowing I'm a girl. When talking to people in the guild, quite often I would get called 'buddy' or 'dude' and as soon as I referred to myself as a lady (I don't remember the context of the conversation, but hey, I'm a lady - or something) all of that stopped. Well, aside from the few guys that talk to me like that anyway. Also, there was a time when I was in a dungeon. It was all male characters except for the healers. We all wiped, and there was a comment made by somebody that said something along the lines of "why don't one of the guys run back so she doesn't have to?" Though I don't know the thoughts behind the statement, it made me think of the general stereotypes that women are weak. Why can't the healer run back? As the healer, I feel like that's kind of part of the job. It takes the same amount of time and effort for anybody else to run back as it would for the healer. I could be wrong, but still. Girls are just as capable of this stuff as guys. And nobody even knows if the player behind that character was male or female. I should stop. I could go on a rant about how female gamers are treated in game. Maybe someday I will, cuz it's on my mind a lot, and this post is kind of like the prequel to that.

Being a gamer and a nerd in a professional working environment certainly has its challenges and this is entirely due to stereotypes. I am more than aware of when these stereotypes are targeted my way, but I normally don't say anything about it. I started my current job last May, and one morning on the way to court with the Victim Advocate, I was talking about the upcoming Comic Con in Philly. Her response was "Oh, you do that kind of stuff?" It wasn't so much what she said, but how she said it. Like it was a bad thing that I have those types of interests. So with her, I don't talk about it anymore. The current Executive Director seems to have a bit of a nerdy side, when it comes to TV shows and movies. This is nice because I can talk to him about Agents of SHIELD and the newest Marvel movies and stuff like that. However, he doesn't understand gaming. He has this view point that all I do in my free time is play video games. That is most certainly not the case. I do have other interests. But he makes jokes about it and doesn't look down on me because I play video games, so it works out.

Being a gamer/nerd as a senior in college has certainly been a challenge. It is often a challenge to make friends. I take classes with a lot of students who don't have similar interests as I do, so it's rare to find somebody to relate to. There have been times where I'll talk to people in my classes, and if I make one comment about video games, comic books, comic cons, etc. things just get awkwardly silent, or conversations after that point in time get very brief. But there are occasional glimmers of hope in between all of this chaos of rejection. For instance, last semester, I made a comment about NYCC to my bio lab partner during awkward small talk before class, and after that moment, we always had something to talk about. See, he plays a lot of XBOX games and is interested in going to comic cons though he has never been to one. He also reads some comic books. So we were able to talk about stuff other than the weather, and our class. It was nice, however it never became a friendship, but I did get a comic book recommendation out of it, and plan on picking up that comic book later today. Also, after NYCC I wore the tshirt I got while I was there, which had the NYCC logo on the back of it. In one of my classes, the girls behind me started asking me about it and about my experiences, so that was cool. Unfortunately though, more often than not, when I discuss my interests with people in my classes I get rejected. People stop talking to me, or in rare occasions, flat out tell me why I'm wrong for having these interests. I have had people tell me I should try harder to make friends. Well, when you're the type of person who has an irrational fear of rejection, and constantly gets rejected when the topic of interests comes up, it's hard to keep trying to make friends. A lot of people don't seem to understand that. The pattern is rejection. The fear is rejection. What reason do I have to keep trying? I have friends via the internet that allow me to talk about my interests. I have one real life friend who knows full well about my interests and hobbies, and though she doesn't take part in any of these activities at all, she has no problem with what I do. We are very different people, but she's a great friend and we get along so well together. Unfortunately, she graduated last year so I only see her once every few months.

So, being a female in a nerdy world sucks sometimes. There is a lot of judgement, a lot of stereotypes imposed upon me, and just general crap that I shouldn't have to deal with. But I'm a successful, nerdy, female gamer and I'm proud of it. Don't like it? Then why the hell did you read this? Wanna know more about my experiences, or the types of nerdy things I'm into aside from WoW? Wanna share your own stories of living the life of a gamer/nerd when others don't accept it? Well, that's what the comments section is for!

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