Often, this blog focuses on the negative, even when I try to be positive. It’s tough out there for a woman in computer science, and I frankly come across enough instances of blatant or institutionalized sexism often enough that I can write dozens of pieces about it. It’s not all bad, though, even when I think it’s going to be. Take this conversation about video games, for example.
I love video games. Role-playing games in particular. Just being able to escape into a carefully designed world for an hour or two at night can help me forget about the day. What’s more, that escape can help me remember to keep things in perspective. It’s a great way to waste time, and wasting time has its place. That place is my house almost every night.
So anyway, the conversation around the break room was around the new Dark Souls remaster. If you don’t know Dark Souls, it’s an RPG known for being difficult and rich in lore. Sweet sweet lore. I’ve spent hours just reading about a sword you pick up, connecting the dots between branching storylines, whatever. It’s just awesome and I have played the Dark Souls Trilogy for hundreds of hours. When they announced the remaster, which is just the developers going in and making things look more up-to-date (the game was made 7 years ago or so), I almost cried.
The guys in the office were talking about it so I figured I’d jump in. Now, I’m already a little weird. I quote obscure pop culture before I realize what I’ve said, and there’s nothing more awkward than explaining the weird quote (usually in a weird voice) to a bunch of dudes looking at you. So when I mentioned that I was excited for the remaster (my exact words were “I think I’m going to pee myself over it”) I got some weird looks.
“What are you, a gamer girl?”
Now let’s get one thing straight. I ain’t no gamer girl. Gamer girls don’t play video games; they play emotional games. They don’t play for fun; they play for attention. They wouldn’t know an RPG from an FPS and they’re officially the worst people on the planet according to me at this very moment.
“No… I have 300 hours in DS1 alone, dude.”
Of course, that wasn’t enough. I got the usual grilling girls get when they say they play games, but I passed the test around the time I said my favorite boss fight was Artorias. After that, we were talking builds, worst boss fights in the series, and I was suddenly (as much as I hate to say it) one of the guys.
When you’re in a position like mine, which is to say being a professional in a male-dominated profession and someone who runs a website geared toward eradicating sexism, you can see negativity everywhere. You can see “boys clubs” and seethe, but the thing is boys clubs are usually just guys who get together and do something they like. Most men don’t realize that an activity that is traditionally male would benefit from women, and the thing is, I don’t necessarily blame them. Not everyone can be as passionate about this thing. Some of these guys volunteer at hospitals. Some coach their kid’s baseball team. Not everyone can run a feminist blog (thank God).
The thing is, if I acknowledge that my hobbies are escapes meant to waste time in ways I enjoy (which isn’t really wasted time), I can’t blame people for doing the same thing. I’m sure I could do more to bring more women into gaming rather than just assuming anyone but me is the stereotypical gamer girl. I’m sure men can do more to bring women into traditionally male hobbies.
Or maybe we could just all enjoy what we do and not worry about it.
The answer’s probably in the middle somewhere, but all this Dark Souls talk reminds me I haven’t played in a couple days and Artorias probably misses me.