Player vs Pretense: Being a Woman in ‘League of Legends’

There’s safety in playing against bots in League of Legends. They’re programmed to say a simple sentence related to their quotes at the beginning and ending of each match, but other than that, they’re silent. It’s comfortable and the games lack complexity, but sometimes I’m not looking for anything but.

League of Legends

I’ve been playing League for a couple of years now. I’ve played PvP on the rift, PvP on Howling Abyss, and—of course—player versus bots. I’ll admit there’s a type of safety when you play with a group of your friends against real people on the opposite of the map, who I most likely know nothing about.

What I do know is that I’d (for the most part) rather not reveal I’m a girl. Players on the other team will automatically assume I’m a “he.” Hell, people on my own team do this far more than the alternative. And at this point, I just let them. There was a time I would correct them—promptly—but that was seasons ago.

The truth is, when I make the grand reveal that I’m a woman (note: this unfortunately doesn’t occur during a magical girl transformation as I may hope for each time I do it) the result goes in either one of a few ways:

1. No one cares.

2. Too many people care.

It’s simpler to sit in the shadows and ignore being referred to as a man. Actually, it’s easier to play with bots, even though their difficulty is extremely low and they run around like the AI that they are. At least there’s no fear of a reaction if I told them I was a “girl gamer.” There’d be no reaction at all. How perfect would that be?

League of Legends

Maybe it’s because the age demographic for League is somewhere in the early to mid-teens, but the amount of times I’ve been asked how my period is going results in more times I’ve actually ever had my period (okay, this isn’t technically true, but you get what I mean). Surprisingly, the “women should be in the kitchen, not on the rift jokes” haven’t subsided—and this shocks me every day.

But to be honest, I’m not sure if I’m complaining about this or not. At one point I definitely was, but unfortunately, many of my friends who I played with just didn’t understand. Now it simply … washes over me. Granted, a lot of their “jokes” do not make any sense. Someone assumed the reason I disconnected from game for a few minutes was because my menstruation was rushing after I accidentally told them I was a woman—but does anyone know what this means? Hello? I can definitely laugh at that. But I’m numb to it now, I think.

Well, no, I expect it. Every PvP match of every game mode has a chance of this happening, and I don’t even blink at it anymore. I’m not saying every single male player has done this. I’m not saying this happens every single time I play against real people, but it does happen—and that is what I’m concentrating on.

Is this a good thing? I definitely do not think so. I haven’t “gotten over it” per se. Accepting something doesn’t mean I’m over it or even unaffected, it just feels like I am. This is a problem, but unfortunately, I’m not so sure how to fix it. What do you think?

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3 Comments on “Player vs Pretense: Being a Woman in ‘League of Legends’

  1. I don’t play MMOs for this reason. It sucks the fun out of it for me, MMOs are games but they’re also communities, and I don’t like not being able to be part of that. I just want to have fun and chat, not only get comments about my gender.

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  2. “Sorry, I have to go-my menstruation is rushing! Like, literally flooding through my windows and doors and I might actually drown this time! Grab my loot, okay?!”

    Yeah, casual misogyny and cissexism never made much sense. Personally, I feel the answer lies in what makes you feel the most secure. For some it’s keeping their gender to themselves. For others it’s calling people out every single time. Still for others it’s partnering with a friend to better deal with harassment as it comes. For me? A hybrid of caustic quips and distancing myself when I feel my blood pressure rising.

    Growing numb is a psychological defense mechanism toward a constant barrage of negative behavior. It works, but it also risks you growing complacent to something that is always, constantly wrong. “That’s the way it’ll always be.” “There’s no changing this.” “I hate this, but why bother rocking the boat?” It’s a reasonable reaction, but one that doesn’t help you in the long-term. And YOU matter.

    Gauge what you’re willing to deal with. Make personal changes for the sake of your mental health to better enjoy your hobby. Create boundaries and follow through with them, even if it’s as simple as quietly logging off at the first sexist comment and switching to another server. You can’t win this war all on your own, but you can control how you react to it and how you reinforce your worth as a person, even as nasty little shits attempt death at a thousand cuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, I love LOL. But since I’m a beginner (AKA bad for now) I’ve read jokes in the chat about how I’m probably one of the players girlfriends. Then they go on asking who’s I am. That’s pretty offensive since I’m sure they all started out like shit too. It’s hard when you try to ignore them but then they call you “B***” for not responding. I enjoyed this article. Thnx.

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