On March 8th 2015 I decided to post a comic strip from Camila Torrano which depicts, although in a slightly dramatized way, one of the very many interactions between a male gamer and a female gamer.
To give a little bit of background, I am a gamer. The first time that I played a video game I was probably around 7 or 8 years old. Having an older brother, who was five years older than me, made it so that even thought I was forced to deal with very stereotypical views of what being a girl is or should be, I had access to “boy’s things”. Although I hated receiving Barbies and Barbie houses, makeup, jewelry making kits and the sort, when the house was quiet, my mother busy, and my brother out of the house and so out of the room that we shared for a few years, I had access to video games, which he had because he was a boy. I think my first video game experience was with Sonic the hedgehog, and it was an experience my child mind will always cherish.
Jump back to me being around 14 years old, my brother had received Diablo II either at a birthday or some other occasion, and I was able to sneak a few minutes here and there with the game, but because my computer time was limited, unless my brother’s, I was never able to truly enjoy the game for as much as I wanted until I was much older. Interestingly enough, my brother was never a gamer. It was interesting to see that even though he was the one receiving these sorts of things, my brother preferred being outdoor surrounded by his friends while I longed for video games and their stories.
Now as a 24 years old, I game nearly full time. I prioritize gaming above nearly any other sort of activities besides perhaps reading, I have worked with Ubisoft and Eidos, I have helped friends with their own video game projects and studied programming for a while just in case of a mid life crisis and possible change of heart -But I am still a writer and will most likely never work on a video game in the technical way. And so, the comic made much sense to me. It was a familiar situation that I have experienced all of my life anytime a man finds out that I am a gamer. I am questioned, asked to prove “how much of a gamer I am”, if I’d fail to have played a specific game or prefer a genre to another, I’d fail his entire test and would either be called a “fake gamer” or the detested “gamer girl” which is wrong for so many reasons, but I won’t go into why right now.
So , on March 8th 2015, I posted the comic strip, very aware that I would probably get some sexist, misogynistic and angry responses from men who somehow want female gamers as girlfriends, but claim that there isn’t such a thing, and when there is, they will call the women fake or attention whores. Within the hour I was bombarded with comments, mostly negative, many violent, and mostly angry, I was called names, had my existence as a woman put into question, and when some women dared to step out of the shadows, they received the same treatment.
But by the end of that afternoon, I received an anonymous comment.
The comment contained my name, where I live, and where I work, and was accompanied with a death threat; that if I didn’t stop talking about this, I’d be visited by a knife, and so killed. At first, I tried not to think too much of it, but it was hard. I wasn’t very familiar with 9gag’s policies, I couldn’t report the account, I tried to contact the site twice but never got a reply, and because my information was within a comment and so made public, I simply reported it. The comment went away, I’ll never be sure if it meant it had been removed, or if it simply was that only I couldn’t see it. I was worried. I deleted whatever information I had on my 9gag account, first name, country, even changed my sex/gender from female to male in order to be “careful”, something that made me feel enraged beyond words.
Much later that night, on my personal facebook, I received another message.
Of course I was accused of lying:
The person took the time to remind me that they knew where I worked, and they also insulted me in French, which is my native language as well as the language largely used where I live. Now I was truly afraid. I sat in my room, staring at my computer screen. My partner, who was at work, was aware of what was happened since I had felt the need to talk to someone earlier that afternoon, and when I told him what had just happened, he, too, got worried.
This is when I remembered all of the stories of women within the gaming community and not even, who after receiving so many death and rape threats, as well as having their personal information plastered on the internet, are forced to move out of their homes for their own, and their families’s, safety. And so, I reluctantly called the police.