16 responses to ““Geez, I just wanted to play WoW!” – In and Out of Game Deterrents and The Girlfriend Effect

  1. Nice post! I find myself wishing, once again, that we had more data and studies done of gender influences and participation in online communities – especially over time. I think there’s been a major shift in the greater online world in the last 15 years, but research remains lacking.

    • Thankfully research is picking up again, the PlayOn 2.0 link is the one to watch! They recently published a bunch throughout Feb and March and it is WoW specific. Often you get MMO demographic research bundled together, but the numbers coming from them should be as tight as they can get.

  2. My story is very similar to yours. Introduced to Wow by my husband, although he had to convince me to try it because I thought it looked too “cartoony” and too far removed from the first person shooters I was used to playing.

    Once I started raiding, I spent most of my time staying quiet on vent, not wishing to draw attention to myself for anything other than my healing. Out of the people who did know my gender, most behaved not out of respect for me (although I was considered an excellent healer but only because that’s women’s work) but because for the most part they were scared of my “alpha male” (their words not mine) MT, raid leader and officer husband. I found this out when I was whispered by one of the women in the guild who was playing by herself and being harassed by half the melee group. One of the rogues had actually told her that I was prettier but people didn’t want to be kicked, lose loot privileges or just generally be on the receiving end of my husband’s sarcastic put downs so she was getting it instead. By the time she finally came to me, she was in tears. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry in all the time I’ve played WoW.

    I went to our Guild Leader (who I’d always seen as a friend) but whose response was that she was a bad raider anyway and that we didn’t need “emo girls” causing issues when we should be focusing on the Sunwell. Somewhere around the “emo girls” mark, I completely lost it and to cut a long story short, my husband and I ended up leaving the guild for almost a year. Going back wasn’t something I was particularly proud of either but that’s another story.

    Over the years, I’ve learnt a couple of things:

    I. Next time my husband asks if he can post a picture of both of us on the guildforums because everyone else is doing it, insist he posts one of him holding a baby crocodile or something which isn’t me.

    2. Most people behave badly in groups, constantly trying to find ways of making themselves look good by picking on the “other”.

    3. Invisibility isn’t the answer. I might have managed to hide for portions of my WoW time (there was rumours at one point I was my husband’s kid brother – due to my fascination with shark movies, fps games and F1 racing) but all that means is people aren’t picking on you, they’re doing to the next girl.

    I think the way gaming is viewed by those who don’t indulge doesn’t help either. My mother is fine with my husband playing computer games but she can’t stand the fact that I do. It’s unfeminine (even though my parents bought me my first computer when I was seven), it’s childish and a complete waste of time plus everyone you meet on-line is a deviant sexual predator. She has this bunch of stereotypes about gamers in general and females in particular and she’s not alone. I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling my colleagues that I play, because again, they see gaming as something aimed at children or males. I should be making cupcakes, reading chick lit and spending my husband’s money like they do at weekends, not running around Warsong Gulch killing things.

    When all things are considered, I must admit, I’m semi surprised I’m still here.

    • “there was rumours at one point I was my husband’s kid brother – due to my fascination with shark movies, fps games and F1 racing” – Priceless!

      Your whole story makes me think you could basically have written this whole post, you bring so many experiences up that I’ve also had.

      You last paragraph about the perception of games – okay for males, but unsuitable for females for all the reasons you mention, is exactly one of the things Holin Lin’s text is all about (about the Taiwanese players). The “dangers” associated with online gaming means people actively discourage girls from playing, and one of the conclusions of the Yee text is that female players allocate time to play with their partner (or other male relative e.g. son) as a type of relationship maintenance activity – “a hobby we do together”, which diverts the negative associations for females to play, because then it is okay. Very subtle really.
      Anyways, I’m rambling, thanks for your comment, it touched upon and added to many topics brought up in the post.

  3. Ah ironyca – as usual you present a new angle with some interesting data. :)
    I had to think for a while on why female player numbers for the EU might be so far behind the US and I honestly can’t think of a good reason, at least not specifically for WoW/MMOs. in general though, I could imagine there may be more female gamers in the US as a whole, relatively speaking. maybe it’s due to the reason how video gaming was introduced here way back and that we never had a notable industry compared to the US or JAP for example. I remember how hard it was to get the games I craved when i was young (which were mostly RPGs back then on console), we had to find NTSJ imports (or alternatively JAP imports although that sucked) and play then with adapters, because many great games didn’t make it to PAL. it was a hassle and it was more expensive. all of this kinda complicated gaming finding a wider audience outside geeky, male circles. also as a market, the EU never got nearly the amount of commercials or offers people got in the US.

    I would imagine that gap is closing slowly now though. PC and online gaming is on the move, multi-platform games and handhelds. still, trying to appeal to women could be much better. Japan seems to be one of the only countries in the world where the gender and age numbers for videogamers are more evenly spread (which also explains Nintendo’s success and philosophy for the ‘family platform’). that too goes back on how long it’s been part of everyday culture and pastime there.

    And yay, I am among the 1% to bring their male partner into WoW – he only lasted 2 years though! ;)

    • Interesting reasoning about the gap, sounds quite likely. And I believe you are right, mobile gaming is very much on the rise with a much larger target group and this could shift some numbers heavily, at least gradually.
      Haha, you are a statistical anomaly! I think lasting 2 years is pretty okay, of course comparing to the lifespan of WoW makes it look short :)

  4. As always, your posts are so interesting. I wonder if there are any studies done into the type of person, not gender who tend to play video games. I have spent most of my life escaping into the worlds created by people like RR Martin or Asimov and WoW just seemed like a logical progression.

    The only appealing part of that Scrabble box to me is the green, I hate pink, lol.

    • That pink Scrabble was so silly, it exemplifies everything wrong with some companies’ hugely simplified strategy of appealing to young girls in particular. PINK PINK PINK!

  5. I’m EU and started playing WoW by picking a game (any game) to see if my new laptop was ok. I’m female and seemed always to be on the edge of things, tagging along – and I think it’s because I was expected not to play that well. As I approached raiding (BC), this got worse with people I had happily levelled with finding it easy to enter raiding, being invited to raids and reinvited, where as I was often an afterthought. WoW can play on your sense of self-esteem, and I sort of accepted that I was probably a rubbish player. But I resented missing out on the fun. So… I got bit bored… started a guild, hauled in some people and became GM of a raiding guild. I play just fine, it turns out. Building the guild and being GM was easy compared to keeping it all civilised. I’m retired now, (I think, ish – an officer has taken over) The unmoderated and unrestrained playerbase, I think is more offputting to women, than the game or the idea of playing a video game. In my time I’ve seen some ghastly things in chat, and they would get attention, but the day-to-day normalisation of sexism, racism, ageism (against younger players mostly) gets an “eew” response from people women who look over my shoulder to see if they want to try WoW out. In general men don’t seem to notice (or even be attracted), though one or two have recoiled. Pardon the generalisations – those are the conclusions I drew.

  6. Excellent post – I am a huge fan of your use of analyzing data. Honestly, I could pour over your analysis for hours. This conversation did get off-course, and this brings it back to some key points: things change. I remember (insert romantic partner here) first getting me into “gaming” with Phantasmagoria. He worked for a game company called Sierra (which later got swallowed by Blizzard), and this game completely entranced me. It was buggy, and I never got to finish it, but I loved it. It was years later before I was talked into playing WoW, and yes, all of those same conversations go through my mind in terms of judgments by other important females in my life, and not just my mother. A colleague plays, but mostly she watches over her husband’s shoulder since they have one computer. This brings up a entirely different issue — money and power. Ironically, this colleague and I have debated over her belief system that the man of the house is the leader, and should be first at all times. She is one of the most intelligent, creative and amazing women I know. And if she wants to say her husband is first in all matters, and his decisions stand, no matter what, that’s her business, and it works for her and her family.

    But–those other negative voices aside, the bullying from guildmates (damn, I must have been permanently PMS according to some of those little punks, and I wonder what their excuses were for being pendejos–), the thought of a mother or mentor frowning at me, the dishes that don’t get done or the dinner that doesn’t get cooked (not sure how that became MY job…) when I log on, my sweet family, friends, and really amazing people, a blend of both genders, are usually waiting for me, with a hug, smile, and welcome. That’s the world I have created in and out of the game, and that’s the one that matters. I fight the brave fight every day in my real world for those who cannot speak for themselves, so just know–I’m out there.

  7. Dammit, think my TLDR comment got lost.

    But this is an awesome post.

  8. I’m upset that I missed this post until now – the data presented is very interesting – thank you for sharing!

  9. Loved this article! Female gamer here. Was introduced to PC and console gaming by my son. My first MMO was Dark Age of Camelot. I’ve played several other MMOs since then including WoW.

    I’ve played a healer more than a few times but after an experience with male gamer in DAoC who became very possessive and abusive, I vowed I would never ever play one again. Fast forward a year or so and I’m playing Warhammer Online as a Witch Elf (MDPS). It was great at first because I rolled her with a group of friends and they encouraged me as they said I was very good at the class. But things changed as time went on. My friends left the game and I was at the mercy of a community that (generally speaking) didn’t appreciate women who played something other than healers. Healing was vital but still considered “women’s work”. I love healing but I had vowed I would never be forced into the heal-bot role again.

    I noticed a soloing shaman in the PvP lakes. He was doing a helluva a good job spot healing and rezzing players. As a healer, I’m was led to believe you had to be in a group and you couldn’t survive outside a group situation. Well, obviously this player was distilling the myth and doing a damn good job of it. I got thinking… as miserable as I was at the time getting the usual mistreatment from male players – maybe I should go below the radar and reroll a solo healer. I tried it (kept my real identity secret) and my experienced the happiest time I’d had in long, long time. In fact, I had never felt so confident in my ability to figure out how best to player my character on my own.

  10. Pingback: Proudmoore (LGBTQ) Pride Event this Saturday! | Ironyca Stood in the Fire

  11. Pingback: Right and Wrong Gamer Girl Edition | Ironyca Stood in the Fire

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