There have been a number of good Female Gamer 101 posts from other bloggers in the past and a lot of the blogs I read myself are written by other real life girls. While we're a minority still in the gaming community, in WoW, we're holding our own and closing the gap. According to THIS reliable source, 1 in 5 gamers subscribed to WoW are female. 20% isn't a bad number when you consider how many people are subscribed in total to the World of Warcraft and how the percentage must stand in other games. I think one of the big things WoW has going for it in this aspect is how it appeals to a number of different types of people across a broad band of cultures and financial levels. Probably why the devs sit on gold thrones in the Blizzard office building.
With Cataclysm coming out, I expect we'll see an influx of new people interested in the content, especially with furry cute worgen and short wily goblins coming in as the new races. With the grind to 85 having been made more accessible, I suspect more people who aren't power gamers will trickle in along with those who like the end game like myself. A good portion of them will probably be female.
While I know a mix of genders read my blog, as a member of the female persuasion, I feel the need to inform the males on a bit of etiquette related to dealing with the fairer sex in the game. And in all my experience with MMOs dating back to EQ when it was ugly and blocky, I feel that I can summarize the concept in a single rule:
FEMALE GAMERS DO NOT WANT TO BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY.
Take a second and read that over again.
Now let it sink in a little bit.
If you're asking yourself, "Why would Gypsy say this?" then I will be happy to explain.
If another man asks me to get off the game and go back to the kitchen, I will use my amazing telekenetic astral projection Jedi powers to reach through the internet and strangle them. Now, take into consideration that the guild my raiding main is in is a lot different than the guild my other characters are in. Two completely different guilds and I can tell you I've had a person in both make a chauvinist comment to me at one point or another. Generally, I just brush it off. The guys in my raiding guild are particularly bad about this as they have the "phrat boy gamer" mentality: it's ok to be drunk or high and calling things fail is hilarious. I admit I've done my fair share of joining in to the teasing and I know they don't mean anything serious by it. Sometimes I find it a little amusing. I try to take the power away from them and make fun of myself first before they can start into it and that usually puts a damper on their humor. Some days it's a bit much though, and I have to stop and tell myself if they didn't respect me as a gamer, I wouldn't be in their guild. There are only 2 other active females in the guild and the pair of them seemed to have risen above it as well; but it is a bit unsettling when one of your non-raiding guildies gets on Vent during a raid and starts making those comments to you when you're trying to concentrate. I know that if I lose it with them while they're doing it, I'll lose a little bit of that respect with them, and that's probably not ok, but that's how it is. So I endure with a chip on my shoulder and things are ok again.
In my other guild, there's actually a large majority of female players and due to the type of guild it is, there are strict rules about conduct in guild chat as well as between guild members. I know that if someone flat out said something completely sexist to me, be it in guild chat or whispers, I could get them in a hell of a lot of trouble, and thankfully no one's crossed that line. But it's the little things. I did some sporadic raids with a group in that guild for a while till I broke down in tears right before a Hallion pull I was off tanking and had to leave the group. It wasn't WoW related at all that made me lose it. It was completely real life stuff and sometimes it hits you right when you're about to stick your axe in the side of a dragon. While the few other females (and one guy in particular) in the group were supportive and told me it was ok over vent, the boys were a bit stunned, I think. Granted, there's only so much you can do to comfort someone over the internet when you had no idea stuff was going on with them and they're blubbering into their mic, I honestly believe I lost some face with them. I haven't been invited back to raid with that bunch since; though that may be related to some personality clashes with a few of the people involved.
The problem in this situation is that I think they suspect it may happen again. I honestly do my best to keep it pro when I'm raiding, but everyone has their breaking point. I've witnessed guys losing it in a raid and although their reaction is usually angry yelling instead of tears, they get invited back. So I have to ask myself, was part of it because I'm a girl? If I'd had something different between my legs, and yelled instead of crying, would it have been treated differently in the aftermath?
Because of the difference in the way I'm treated when a male gamer finds out I'm female (Asshole whispers: Hey r u hawt? pics plz) I walk around with a big chip on my shoulder and the stubborn ambition to prove that I'm just as good as any guy at any role in this game, if not better. And to be honest, the gender doesn't decide your skill in the game at all: I've seen some TERRIBLE male gamers of all ages and discriminations. I've also seen some VERY TALENTED female gamers leaving the boys behind on the DPS charts.
On a last note completely unrelated to WoW, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. This disease has affected a number of people in my family and is a cause very close to my heart. Ladies, take a little time this month to remind yourself how to do a proper breast exam, no matter your age. If you're at the age when Mammograms are required, sit down and try and remember when your last one was; if you're due for another, get on the phone and schedule it. Remind your family, friends, and co-workers to do the same. The key to beating this is prevention and early detection.
And remember, boys, that men can get this too. If you have a strong family history, ask your doctor what you need to do to stay ahead of it and remind your wives, girlfriends, mothers, and sisters to get themselves checked out annually.