Is the Gaming Community Getting Better?
Is the Gaming Community Getting Better?
By: LB Chambers
Here is the first of a new article series I will be experimenting with. One where I really, really want to hear from our readers! From you! So please before you read any further know that you are highly encouraged to Tweet, Facebook, or respond here on Have You Nerd to the above question and my own observations!
On to the actual article.
I had an interesting revelation the other day about gaming. It happened while I was playing Guild Wards 2– a fairly popular and relatively newish MMORPG (mass multiplayer online role playing game), which I happen to highly recommend.
Now allow me to set the scene.
I was auto running as I emptied my inventory of not-very valuable booty, right clicking and deciding whether or not to salvage or sell some lower level armor when I ran myself right off a cliff. And I died.
I’m not proud of this moment, but there is it. I ran myself off a cliff to my death (I imagine my own end will be just as untimely, awkward, and easily preventable.).
But I wasn’t alone in my death- there was a witness.
Another player, someone I’d never met or even known existed, was gathering carrots or chopping down wood (I really don’t know what they were doing) when they ran off their path and came over to revive my lifeless avatar.
Now, it’s important to know that it takes about thirty seconds to revive a character, thirty seconds in which both characters are extremely vulnerable and unable to defend themselves, and that there is no extrinsic reward for helping others, just the knowledge that you helped another player (dying not only forces a person to respawn far away, but also leaves them with broken gear). (Yes, occasionally it is encouraged by the game to help other players, but moving on.)
So after the before mentioned 30 seconds my character got up, I said my “ty” (thank you), received a “np” (no problem) and then we went our separate ways.
And this was pretty normal. I die a lot in Guild Wars 2, and a lot of people die around me; we always help one another get back up without questions.
Which is when the question hit me, “Is gaming becoming more civil?” Are we as gamers maturing? Growing up? Because honestly the last MMORPG I poured so much of my time and soul into was World of Warcraft several years ago, and at that time people didn’t help one another up, they pretended to teabag the dead bodies of their friends and foes. I did this, again I’m not proud, I’m just your average gamer (perhaps a little less mature but I digress).
And the more I thought about it the more it seemed that things were changing. On Xbox LIVE my avatar is female, and my name clearly identifies me as a female, and while I’m no stranger to terrifying Xbox LIVE harassment I recently realized that I haven’t been the victim of immature lashings in quite a few months (and I’ve been playing A LOT of online multiplayer games lately).
In fact, I’ve been getting compliments and more than a few “that was great!” and “thanks for the game!” comments than anything resembling negativity.
Finally, I have the emotional experience, the touching personal moment that is my exhibit C.
While visiting my younger brother recently (who, while being a great guy, comes from an ant-feminist home), I remarked on why he’d created a female Shepard while playing Mass Effect 3, and was thoroughly shocked and shamed by my own line of thinking compared to his.
It went a little something like this…
Me: “Wait, your Shepard is a girl?”
Brother: “Woman; she’s not a girl.”
Me: (this came out all stuttering) “Well, yeah, you’re right…woman…but why did you make her a woman?” Wait…have you been playing a fem-Shep all this time?”
Me: (perplexed) “Umm…Why?”
Brother: “Well, you play as a guy in most games, don’t you?”
Me: “Yeah, but not of my choosing, that’s just the main character most of the time.”
Brother: “Well, I like the fem-Shep voice acting better, and women are just as smart and strong as men so why does it matter?”
Me: “sniffle…I guess you’re right.” (I pretend to have allergies and hold back proud tears about here).
Let me clarify that I (and my brother) do not come from a home that believes in gender balance (and instead supports the contrary) and were raised in an area with very little contact, if any, with people who believed in feminism, gender equality, or anything even close to gender and sexual equality. He’s still there, and yet somehow he’s become so much a feminist that he was more comfortable playing opposite gender characters than I was, to the point where it confused him that it would be a topic of discussion from me. I’m not saying this awesomeness in my brother comes from directly gaming or games, but his beliefs being reinforced by the video games he plays made me feel pretty warm and fuzzy inside.
I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot of gender inequality in gaming, and that there isn’t still a lot to overcome; women and girls still have to “prove” that they are nerdy/geeky enough a lot of the time, and even then are often subjected to unfair bias and treatment.
Trust me, I know- I’ve been on the receiving end of this for over a decade now. (And I write about it! On the internet! That can be harsh.)
Which is why these three observations in the span of a week have me looking over my life as a gaming geek and asking the question, is it getting better? Is the gaming community becoming more mature? Through games that encourage gender equality, communal support, and collaboration instead of competition, is the gaming community becoming better for everyone?
Right now, from where I’m standing, I say yes.
What do you think? Have I just had a great run of encouraging experiences the last few months? Is gaming getting better for you as a woman? Worse? Let us know! We want to hear from you!LindsayBelle@haveyounerd.com