I play online games quite a bit, over Steam. Mostly it’s L4D2, or TF2. L4D2 I tend to play only with my close friends – people I know in real life. The larger servers on TF2 mean that I’m often playing with strangers. Sometimes I stack a team with my friends, sometimes I don’t.
I also use my microphone. A lot. I like talking – sometimes to tell people what’s happening in the game, or to ask questions, sometimes just to dick around. However, sadly, I have a very obviously non-adult-male voice, as do the two women I game with most frequently.
The first thing that happens is that people try to guess whether we’re female, or young boys. We’re different, you see. The norm in online gaming, they believe, is to be a post-pubescent male. After establishing that we’re female, the other players seem to split three ways.
1. People who don’t care either way, and just continue playing. These are my favourites. They’re the people I’m mostly likely to accept friend requests from. People who enjoy the game, like having a chat and a bit of fun, and who enjoyed playing with me, but aren’t going to get weird about it. They’re well-adjusted and mature, and tend to be people like myself and my friends – adults who are unwinding with a bit of fun.
2. Young men who get kind of… obsessive. They’re fascinated with the concept that women are on the internet, and you can tell, over the course of a few rounds, that they’re beginning to imagine themselves in love with us. They are lonely, and they are a bit sad, and I feel kind of sorry for them. I won’t accept their friend requests, though – that way lies madness, and angry steam messages because you were logged on and they tried to talk to you and you were AFK and they assumed you were ignoring them. No thanks.
3. Men who have a seething hatred for all womankind, and choose to express it using incredibly violent, vitriolic, sexist language. People who will tell you how much they hate you, simply because of those two X chromosomes you’re carrying around.
This post is about that third group.
Last week, Heather told me about a particularly negative gaming experience she’d had, in which men on a TF2 server hurled huge piles of abuse at her, including the phrase “Speak when you’re spoken to, bitch.” That’s a particularly violent example of the kinds of things one hears as a female gamer, but jesus, it made me pretty angry to hear about it.
The issue here is not that gamers like this are making TF2 a less woman-friendly place, and therefore cutting off their nose to spite their face. I mean, sure, that’s an issue, but that’s kind of a male-centric one.
My issue with this is that the men who talk like this are the most fucking gutless idiots on the face of the earth. They are the worst kind of internet tough guy.
Can you imagine these young men, late teens, early 20s, in a real-world situation, using that kind of language? I’m a teacher, and while I’ve copped some abusive language, I’ve never heard anything quite like that. Imagine them using that in the workplace, to a superior, or even to just a colleague. Imagine them trying to tell a female student in a tutorial, or a lecturer, to speak when she’s spoken to. Imagine them saying that to their mother.
We have social rules that clearly state that behaviour is inappropriate. They know it – there’s no way they can’t. And I know a lot of you are thinking, well, what do you expect, it’s the internet, people behave badly there.
No. There is no excuse for that kind of behaviour. The internet is becoming an increasingly important means of communication – young people are doing most of their socialisation on it. Hell, I do most of my socialisation on it. It’s where I get my news, where I plan my social events, where I unwind with my friends at the end of the day. Imagine if Heather and I were on the bus, having a conversation, and a guy behind us started telling us to speak when we were spoken to, or that old chestnut, to make him a sandwich.
I would call the cops. If someone was harassing me like that in public, I would get the five-oh on them. That behaviour is completely inappropriate, and it’s not okay on the internet either.
The shitty thing is, though, my opinion doesn’t matter. Douches like that guy have managed to transform the internet, and online gaming, into male space. Women are told to show tits or GTFO, as though the whole internet is one of those “exclusive” but seedy men’s establishments where women are only allowed in if they’re taking their clothes off. ‘Fraid not, guys.
But if you are a lady and you encounter behaviour like this (and you will), even your actions are limited. If you go off at them, you’re a raging bitch feminazi lesbian who needs a good dicking to sort her out. If you leave the server to find one where you can play without being subjected to verbal violence, you’re a whiny crybaby. There’s only one way to make them happy, and that’s to giggle, to get sexually suggestive (in a non-threatening way) and tell them you’ll make them that sandwich, while wearing a french maid’s outfit. This is because by making it male space, they also get to redefine people’s reactions to their awful behaviour in ways that fit their skewed worldviews. And in turn, it makes women feel as though we’re playing those roles. Leaving a server feels like losing. Getting angry can feel like losing. Either of these actions are, of course, totally justified. No one should stay somewhere they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. And no one should be made to feel bad for defending themselves.
Strangely enough, I, and all the women I know, don’t really feel like stroking the egos and confirming the world views of a bunch of pathetic, angry losers who have, for some unknown reason, complete and total rage for my entire gender. Because that’s what it is, at the end of the day. It’s not just because it’s acceptable behaviour on the internet – it’s because for some reason, they want to treat women with that level of contempt and disrespect. You only do it on the internet if it’s how you want to act in real life.
What the fuck is that about? People will say things like “oh, they’re just mad because they can’t get girlfriends” or “they’re lonely basementdwelling losers” and so on, but the truth is, some of these guys have jobs and girlfriends and friends and lives and yet they completely and totally hate women.
Remember that guy I used to know, the one who ended up being the worst person in the entire world? He was a guy whose complete hatred of women developed over time. I figured it was largely a joke, but then, no. He spent a lot of time at the bodybuilding forums, and you want to see some misogyny? Go there. It is mindblowing how much they hate women. Now, not hating women is a pretty key element for any person I’m friends with. I need all my friends to be people who have decent gender politics. I don’t think this is completely unfair. And I don’t hate men – I love them. I don’t think all men are dreadful people. Hell, until I started using the internet, I hadn’t really experienced that level of total hatred for women. I don’t know why some men can hate women that much. I know I don’t want to be around women who hate men that much, either. That’s a lot of hate to be carrying around with you all the time.
The internet is normalising this kind of behaviour. It’s not normal. If it’s not appropriate to say it in real life, it’s not appropriate to say it on the internet.
Finn showed me this video. Have a look at it. It’s supposed to be a comedy, but while you watch it, consider the fact that during my hundreds of hours of online gaming, I’ve had most of those things said to me (the female version, anyway). I’ve had random strangers threaten to rape me. I’m not particularly afraid because, well, they don’t know where I live, but I want you all to seriously think about what kind of person actually says these things to another human being, actually attempts to verbally intimidate them and silence them and make them feel bad about themselves simply because of a factor like gender. Think about if you’d tolerate that kind of behaviour in your workplace, at your uni, in your home.
Now; do me a favour. If you’re a guy, and you’re gaming, and you witness behaviour like this, speak up, even if you don’t know the people involved. If someone does something dreadful like this, make your opinion known. Tell them it’s not okay. Help reduce the shitty misogynist culture of gaming; it’s the right thing to do. Ladies: I’m sorry that this happens. I hope you keep playing, because fuck, these games can be so much fun. If you feel like you can speak up, speak up. There are good guys on the internet – I know, I game with them all the time. Or, you know, you could just ask for a sandwich for yourself.
I was gonna post, but I have the, hehe, burning need, hehe, to burn some people.
When I was growing up, computer games weren’t allowed. My mother abhors anything she considers violent – quite famously, in the early years of her marriage to my father, she was shocked to discover he enjoyed watching The Bill, and felt that this meant he was a violent and angry man. I’m talking about 1984 The Bill, with Reg and Polly and “You’re nicked, my son!” “Fair cop, gov!” Not exactly Oz. But this hatred of violence (mostly because she can’t stand raised voices or conflict) meant that computer games didn’t happen for me.
Even as a teenager, when I had friends with consoles, I didn’t enjoy playing them because invariably, my friends were much more familiar with the game and controls, and always kicked my arse. A steep public learning curve is NOT the Julia way.
I didn’t really get into computer or console games until I moved in with Tom. A month before we moved in together, I bought him a PS2 as a moving-in gift. I figured he’d love it, and that it would work as a DVD player. This was in 2002, when DVD players were often over $300. $400 for a DVD player that als0 played games seemed like a bargain (and it was, we still use that thing 7 years later). I wasn’t really expecting to play games on it, it really was a present for him. One of the games that came with it was Project Eden. I really enjoyed watching Tom play, and he often let me have the controller to do certain things. I found that I was surprisingly good at the puzzle-solving aspect, as well as being able to spot important items. The game can be played as co-operative multiplayer, but we were doing this as co-operative single player, and it was a really enjoyable couple activity for us.
About six months after we’d moved in together, Tom bought me The Sims for Christmas. I’d seen ads for it on TV, and it seemed sort of interesting. I’d dabbled a bit with Civ 3, and I liked that, because of its history-basis, but this seemed like even more fun. So, he bought me The Sims, and I absolutely fell in love with it.
This was also during my recovery from bulimia, and Tom quickly worked out an excellent reward system – if I went a month without purging, he would buy me an expansion pack for The Sims. I LOVE extrinsic rewards, and because I wanted The Sims so badly, and because I couldn’t bear the thought of lying to Tom, it gave me the willpower to break patterns of behaviour I’d had in place since I was 14. I stopped seeing food as the ultimate reward for good behaviour, and started focusing on computer games instead. Say what you will, but I think that’s a lot healthier. Also, it got me totally hooked on computer games, which I think may have been Tom’s cunning plan all along.
I love The Sims because there’s no winning. I grew up as an only child, and so I’m far more focused on narrative-based play than Ludist (or Gamist)-based play (Hey Tom, I payed attention to your thesis). Competition isn’t exactly enjoyable for me, and so if people are playing MarioKart or another party game, I’ll generally just read a book. I like WiiBoxing, but only because I have competed against some EXTREMELY sore losers. But for me, the story is the most important thing. With The Sims (and these days, The Sims 2, and soon to be The Sims 3), I can create my own story. It’s got all the features I loved about Lego when I was small, which was my favourite toy. I can build whatever the damn hell I want, and be creative and have fun, but I also have little people to play dolls with. I can change their clothes, in The Sims, I can build a house to look like whatever I want. I can tell stories. The Sims franchise is a game which I believe encourages imaginative play, and I absolutely adore that. I also really love the potential for user-created content – websites like Mod The Sims 2 have anything you could want. I have downloaded Victorian clothes and furniture, medieval stuff, and an entire set of Harry Potter themed stuff, including uniforms for university-aged Sims (like, for all four house, and for boys and girls, and some with robes on, and some with robes off, and some with shirts untucked etc), and furniture for the different common rooms, and so on. If I want to make a themed neighbourhood of some kind, the stuff will certainly be available. I even have some downloaded furniture that’s better than the stuff in the game, which I think is rad.
As well as The Sims etc, I find I also dig city-building games, like Sim City, and recently, CivCity: Rome. But I like to play these with the cheats on: I want to build a beautiful, functional city, not having to worry about running out of cash or shit like this. I don’t like my gaming to be stressful, I like it to be creative and beautiful. When the little dude pops up to tell me my treasury’s running low, I tend to shout HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO WORK UNDER THESE CONDITIONS and go off and have a liedown. This is probably why I’m not allowed to be Prime Minister. (“All children should travel to school on elephants!”)
I’m digging the Total War games pretty hard, and I think I actually like them better than Civ (don’t taze me, Tom), just because everything is themed properly. With Civ, I find I can’t deal with the concept of the Americans v. the Roman Empire, and things like that. So I’ll make a Classical Period game, with the Romans and Greeks and Persians and Celts and Carthaginians etc, or a Modern Europe game, with England and France and Germany and Russia and so on. But I am deeply uncomfortable with crossing the streams, or playing America as an ancient civilisation. It’s just not right, man! So, the Total War games appeal to my sense of order. The map is correct, (none of this “London is right next to York and right near sources of ivory and dyes” malarky) and I understand where things are. If I want a medieval game, I can have one, and there’s no Americans.
But, I also like how the game dynamics change depending on the era. Gameplay for Medieval II is very different to Empire, and a lot of that is based on the historical period. They’re also games that are more enjoyable if you’re a bit of a history buff, which appeals to my love of entertainment which doesn’t cater to the lowest common denominator. I’m just getting used to Empire, right now, and it makes me want to play Rome: Total War, which I avoided when Tom played it due to my lack of knowledge (at the time) of Ancient History. But now I’ve done a bit of Ancient, and learnt more, and I think I would get a bigger kick out of the game. Awww yeah.
I find that I have varied and extremely specific tastes. I don’t tend to like everything in a genre, I will like one or two examples of that genre. The only real-time strategy games I like are the Age of Empires/Age of Mythology games. I mostly enjoy the campaign, rather than the multiplayer skirmishes, probably one again because of my love of narrative. AoE III and AoM were also very pretty games – I liked building the towns, and deciding where things went.
WoW doesn’t appeal to me, but that’s mostly because I don’t care about the world it’s set in. If they made an MMORPG set in Regency London, with society intrigues and you could go to Almack’s and have a character and run around and be social and go to balls, I would be all up in that, ALL THE TIME. I would call it World of Ballcraft (hurr). I would also totally play an MMORPG if it were set in Rapture (from Bioshock) before all the shit went down. But I’m not interested in Second Life, because I can get that shit on The Sims, and The Sims is less full of furries and French fascists (I am not even kidding). I only want to run around in a virtual world with other people if the world has a cohesive narrative and aesthetic that I enjoy.
Another game I really enjoyed was Portal. I played Portal before I played TF2, and I adored it. I know people call it an FPS, but I find this to be a useless description. It’s a puzzle-solving game! You don’t shoot other people! It’s first person, and there’s a gun, but FPS, to my mind, conjures up stuff like TF2, or Counterstrike. Portal kind of is a genre all its own. I think I also dislike the idea that a computer game genre is based on some mechanic of gameplay, because for me, the primary appeal of a game is its narrative and setting. But yeah, back to Portal. I kicked arse at it, and I was actually better than Tom, which was sort of a new thing for me. Being good at things is always exciting, and because Portal didn’t really require me to have spent my teen years with my fingers permanantly glued to the WASD keys, I loved it. I’m good at that kind of puzzle-solving, too. But, at the same time, it gave me greater familiarity with FPS-style controls, and this eased my way into TF2.
Now I will talk about Team Fortess 2 for a while.
I freaking love this game. Before this, the only FPSs I’d actually enjoyed were things like Battlefield: 1942 and Battlefield: Vietnam, because I knew the period quite well, I enjoyed the different type of gameplay (I’m gunning down planes! I’m sniping the VC! I’m steering an enormous ship!), and it was fairly low-stress. Counterstrike never appealed to me, because, I guess, modern-era real-world killing is kind of depressing. I don’t like futuristic sci-fi games (I don’t really know why). So, these few historical FPSs were what I played at shootybang nights, until the arrival of TF2.
TF2 is, I think, the perfect game for people who didn’t spend their teen years playing FPSs. The wide range of classes means that you’ll find at least ONE class you’re good at (for me, it’s sniper and pyro), there are different maps, and the visual aesthetics of the game make things extremely obvious. There are huge arrows pointing the way to intel rooms or control points, the other team is very obviously the enemy, marked out by colour, and it’s obvious what each character can do. It’s fun, too – it has lots of injokes and doesn’t take itself seriously, which I think is good for a game where the whole point is to kill people. The flavour text is always hilarious, and you can play a really team-worky character, or a solo one. I think it’s got more flexibility than most other FPSs, and I enjoy being able to play one round, and then going off and doing my own thing. I also like being able to play with friends, without having to have them in my house.
Lastly, some console games. I enjoy some things on the Wii – I really like WiiBoxing and WiiPlay, but mostly to do on my own. I enjoyed Zelda, and I liked the Harry Potter 5 game for the Wii, because the spellcasting was fun, and running around and getting a sense of how the school was laid out was really interestiong for me. But ultimately, I am a Playstation girl. I’m looking forward to earning money and buying Tom a PS3, because I love cooperative RPGs. We’ve played a few really good ones together: the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance games, as well as the X-Men: Legends had really fun cooperative play, and I kind of loved sitting down on the couch next to Tom for a whole day and killing bad guys together. But I also love Rockstar games, like Bully, which Heather already talked about, and I’m looking forward to LA Noire when it comes out.
So, yes. From being someone who never played video games, they’ve become kind of a staple of my entertainment. I enjoy playing them, and talking about gameplay and mechanics with Tom, and all that kind of stuff. I think that it’s also a good time to be a lady who games, because game designers are making games with women in mind (which means that World of Ballcraft is only a few years away, I hope), and so I can find games where “winning” isn’t necessary. Video gaming is, for me, an activity which can be done solely on my own, with Tom, or with groups of my friends, and I kind of love that. I can be running the British Empire in 1700, or I can be Harry Potter at Hogwarts, or I can be a guy who sets people wearing a different coloured shirt on fire. I can play games requiring thinking and strategy and puzzle-solving, or ones that need me to be creative, or ones that require improving my reflexes. Ultimately, I guess, I think that video gaming has broadened my mind and taught me new skills, and any hobby that does that has to be pretty awesome.
So, it is sunday. Sunday is not the day I post, that day is saturday.
But I did not post on saturday! I must have been doing something else.
And I was!
I went to inspector some houses. They were crap. It was rubbish. Then I had lunch with my sister and her boyfriend. He is called Daniel, which is very close to my name, and a bit creepy. But he is a pretty cool guy in general so it’s not so bad.
For lunch we went and actually ate at Petersham Charcoal Chicken as though it was a restaurant. They gave me a beer! And some chicken and some pork belly and some chips. It was: epic overeating. I still have some chicken and pork belly in my fridge, later I will eat it. Om nom nom.
Then we went to Summer Hill, to drop me off at a cafe, and so they could go look at a house I already looked at this one time, to see if it was as good as I had made it out to be (hint: yes).
We already have an application in on that place, but because we liked it we decided to bump our rent offer up some, because, I guess, we can afford it, and also awesome places are awesome.
I could put pictures here but I won’t because it’s not like I live there yet.
On the other hand, when I live there, there will be so much space, you guys! I will also have a BBQ. I may have mentioned the BBQ? It is important. For my lifestyle. That there is a BBQ.
Then, from the cafe, I went to the brand new Chez Heather, about which I will also not speak as I do not live there. And it’s Heather’s job to speak to it, anyway.
We hung out there some, then a Finn came! it was a glorious time. We went to an IKEA (thanks Finn! it’s much appreciated!).
It was a glorious time.
For a given value of glorious – I can see how shopping could wear on a person, for instance.
On the other hand, impulse arm chairs and shiny, shiny homewares? That’s what I’m talking about.
Also, daim bars.
Daim bars, guys. Daim Bars.
It is currently my goal to make Daim Milkshakes and Daim McFlurry.
In fact, if a plan goes ahead tonight, there will be smashDaim in a gelato and everyone will be like ‘oh shit, this is heavenly’.
Which reminds me! I gots to link you people to a video. It is a video about making foie gras out of a duck’s liver. I don’t know if maybe you’re not down with organmeats, or what, but I think you should probably watch this video anyway, just to see how enthusiastic this guy is about food. He is a Swiss dude, and as far as I can tell, he travels around the world, eating things and buying knives and cooking stuff, for his website, and that’s all he does. Goddamn, I wish I had a rich Swiss banker in the family who was prepared to bankroll such activities.
So, anyway, a video:
View in HD Download 720p HD Version Visit Francois Xavier’s ExposureRoom Videos Page
That guy, man.
Also, I want a terrine. And the liver of a duck. Anyone?
anyway! I have been playing Team Fortress 2. This is the first time in, literally, 10 years, that I have played an FPS on the PC. The last one was the original Unreal Tournament. Do you remember that?
Actually since it came out in ’99 it’s probably been 8 or 9 years since I last played an fps on the pc, but that’s not really the point, the point is skill atrophy. I am rubbish at FPSen, and it is taking me some time to get my groove on.
On the other hand, I got my first unlock today (not sure how! I signed into steam and it realised I’d killed some spies, killed them with fire, and it gave me a flare gun. Why I did not get this when I, say, finished burning the 10th invisible spy, I don’t know), so I am doing things and becoming an achiever! GG, valve, for putting achievements in things so I feel like I am learning and not just sucking up the place.
So, anyway, now it is time for me to run up behind some dudes and totally set them on fire. So much fire. Then maybe there’ll be a minigun, that’ll be good times. And then I will get gelato! And that will be good times too.