The Conflicted Existence of a Female Zombie-Killer

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II is my first time playing this series.  I only play the zombies mode; I’ve never been into war games, because killing middle-eastern rebels or foreign armies really doesn’t appeal to me.  But zombies?  Bust out the semi-automatic weaponry, I’m there.

Once I started playing public online mode, it didn’t take me long to learn that if I didn’t mute everyone else’s microphone while playing, I’d hear some shit I didn’t wanna hear.  The first time I played online, some dude was dropping n-bombs (from the context in which he used them, it was pretty obvious he was using them as a slur and was not a person of colour himself).  I quit the game and henceforth was a quick-draw on the ‘mute all’ button before starting a match.

Not long after I started playing Black Ops, Hubby gifted me a PS3 headset.  I think both of us anticipated this being used in the context of him needing quiet to study and me still being able to play PS3 or watch Netflix.  I really never intended to get into mic’d online play.  When I’d sign in to Black Ops, I’d mute my mic along with everyone else’s.

Once I got into playing more complex DLC maps (Mob of the Dead, anyone?), though, I could really see the appeal of being able to communicate with other players.  I started leaving people’s mic’s unmuted in the lobby while I listened to players chat.  If they sounded like reasonable people, I’d leave them unmuted.  Soon after, I kept my mic on the first time, and was lucky enough to have an awesome team.  No offensive remarks (just a lot of f-bombs directed at zombies), cohesive teamwork, and it was instantly clear to me what I’d been missing by playing without audio communication.

It didn’t take long before I stopped my lurking-vetting process of deciding which team’s I’d mic with.  And it didn’t take long after that for the sexist bullshit to start.

The first remark, while annoying, wasn’t too major.  I told the team I’d grab a quest item located in the map’s laundry room.  “Oh yeah, perfect, the girl’s doing the laundry.”  If I let myself get upset over that kind of stuff, I wouldn’t be able to exist in the world, so I let it go.  But it got worse. A few days later, playing with a team that had seemed pretty cool at first, I got taken down by a huge horde of zombies who cornered me.  As I asked the team if anyone could make it over to revive me, a player who had witnessed the takedown said “yeah, the chick totally got raped by those zombies.”  My heart dropped into my stomach and I actually felt ill.  I don’t feel the need to get into a rant about rape culture or rape jokes, but needless to say, I was not happy.

The truth is, overall, my experiences playing on headset have been better than I initially feared they would be.  Aside from the relatively common “are you really a girl?” questions, most teams I play with have treated me with respect.  I’m sure this is partly because I’m back to pre-emptively muting teams that sound too rowdy in the lobby.  But those times that someone does casually toss out a sexist remark, it takes the wind right out of me.  It breaks the illusion that everyone is there for the same reason as me: some good, clean, respectful, zombie-killing teamwork.  I play video games to escape all the bullshit in the world, so this is not part of the plan for me.

I’ll continue playing Black Ops, and I’ll continue feeling conflicted about mic’d play. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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8 thoughts on “The Conflicted Existence of a Female Zombie-Killer

  1. I muted my mic for the exact same reason. I can put up with some very nasty trash talk but I draw the line at idiotic sexiest comments.
    I’ve only had my mic on a handful of times and every other time a sexiest remark was made & once was a rape ‘joke’. It’s deplorable.

  2. Being male, I haven’t experienced this directed at me. But, often when my girlfriend and I pay halo guys get pretty creepy towards her. It doesn’t ruin gaming for her and it’s got to the point she has changed her xbox tag and details so people think she’s male. And she won’t even touch the Mic. But once in a game they found out we’re a couple and started asking for sex photos :-s what is wrong with people?

    • Wow that’s a new one, getting asked for photos… I have actually not had a lot of creepy/sexual comments. My username is obviously female and I do get a ton of friend requests from people I see in the lobby (even when we don’t end up playing together), but I don’t know if that’s common or something to do with being a woman.
      All that being said, I’d suggest to her to give the mic a try. If women don’t get on the mic, the online play culture won’t adapt. Gotta get out there and represent!

  3. First of all great post and a really interesting topic which I’ve never really considered in-depth before..!

    I’ve experienced girl gamers spoken to or ‘targeted’ in this way too whilst playing online, namely back when Half Life 2: Deathmatch and Counter Strike: Source came out jointly. In those games you can upload a ‘tag’ via the options menu and select an image of a certain size, which you are then able to ‘spray’ in the game world on any given map that you happen to be playing on.

    Needless to say, if a female was found to be playing in the same match, more often than not there would be jeering from males for pictures and also they’d go to the extent of changing their tags to crude images as well. Also even though perhaps because I’m male I’ve never experienced the offensive messages over mic chat, I still find the chatter in public games to be a real pain. I found gaming with nothing but the sound of the game itself ringing in my ears to be liberating, and have never looked back.

    The story is different in organised ‘clan’ matches though, like you say when you are connected with a decent team, the mic makes a great difference to the team’s success. If you’re able to find a great team or clan of gamers who don’t take things too seriously and are not offensive, then you’ll enjoy using your mic a lot more! 🙂

  4. Stuff like this is why I tend to avoid multi-player games. Too many idiots spoil it for others. Shooters are especially bad due to microphone communication. I suppose it is less bad for female MMO players as they can chat via text without revealing their sex.

    • Yeah it can be rough on the mic. I agree that without revealing you’re female, you can avoid some unpleasantness, but really I should not have to hide myself in order to be free from harassment. I put myself out there because male players need to realize that women play games and deserve respect.

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