August 19, 2010

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Xbox to Women – “We’ll Help You With Your Sons Account”

Filed under: Gaming,Gender,Media — Tags: , , — Rachel @ 11:31 pm

Recently the website posted a letter they received from an irritated female gamer.  She had contacted Xbox Live support to downgrade her account, and the reply she received told her they would be happy to help her with her sons account, and they know how disappointing it can be for her son when Xbox isn’t working properly.  And here’s why I’m writing about it – the woman who wrote in?  Never mentioned a son in her correspondence, and in fact she doesn’t even have any kids, much less a son with an Xbox account.  There is an automatic assumption that if you are female, you couldn’t possibly yourself be a gamer.  XBox is flooded with problems for girl gamers like me, but it’s something that is rarely addressed.

A few weeks ago, Gears of War was offering extra experience points for playing online.  Previously, I had always signed in as the +1 to my boyfriend’s account, and nothing would be saved.  Xbox was offering a 30 day trial period, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll sign up, I can always cancel once the trial period is over.  While thinking of a username, I realized that all the combinations of words that I would like to use, that I identified with, were all “feminine” in some way.  So immediately the first three ideas I had were out.  Of course, I could’ve used one of those names – but then I would’ve been subject to pictures of male genitalia, sexual harassment, and misogynistic comments.

When I finally settled on a username, one that is actually specifically male, I was happy.  “No more problems or worrying about any of the above” I thought.  The second day playing under my new account, I was invited to a chat with fellow team members while playing Warzone.  I realized that, even if I wanted to join (which I didn’t – I was already getting the feeling they were pissed because I wasn’t doing well), I couldn’t.  That would reveal me as being a woman, and wasn’t something I wanted to deal with.  (I was right about the annoyance part – they sent me messages telling me to “Get the fuck out!!!!!!!!” once the game was almost over.)  On top of all that, I was frequently put into games with people who had information that tried to circumvent the automatic Xbox offensive word finder – people would put words like “raep” and “b1tch” in their usernames or profiles, or in some cases, both.  I filed complaints each time I came across one, but over the long weekend, it seems I encountered this multiple times on a daily basis.

Currently, there’s no solution for stopping any of it, there’s only doing what I did – hiding.  Hopefully Xbox will get a clue and begin adding the “misspelled” words to their automatic finder.  Maybe institute a zero-tolerance policy on any of the above mentioned behavior?  But until then, it’s all male-sounding usernames and filing complaints one by one.


  1. “…the woman who wrote in? Never mentioned a son in her correspondence, and in fact she doesn’t even have any kids,..” How can anyone make such an assumption! I’d be shocked and outraged. That just goes to show how real this actually is.

    Comment by Nahida — August 20, 2010 @ 11:37 am

  2. This is one reason I only play on the Wii and use Skype. No one can tell me anything, and I only communicate with my team-mates which are parent gamers as well. I like being who I am without hiding and being harassed. I am a woman, a mother, and a gamer.

    Comment by Polly — August 20, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

  3. I am a female gamer, too. What really annoys me is the lack of RPG female models. Fortunately Fable has gotten better in that factor, but other games like Risen are horrible. Risen only has two or three women in there and they all called either-housewife, prosititute, or village-woman or whatever. They don’t even have names.

    Comment by Hetaher Aurelia — August 21, 2010 @ 8:23 pm

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