The Reality Behind Being a Girl Who Plays Video Games

Op-ed

Throughout the past few years, millions of women have begun to find interest in the world of esports. No matter the person or age, everyone who plays video games has their reasoning behind why. This may be because they are talented, a fun way to interact with friends, or gaming, maybe their escape from reality. Today I will be sharing, The Reality Behind Being a Girl Who Plays Video Games, from my personal experience. My main goal behind why I wrote this is to raise awareness of an ongoing issue within the gaming world that tends to be overlooked.

How It First Began:

Nearly six years ago, I picked up a controller for the first time. It was Christmas Day, and my brother had just received a PlayStation, as well as a variety of Call Of Duty games. Although I wasn't any good, I enjoyed playing games as much as I possibly could. This phase only lasted for a few months, and then I did not spend a moment playing video games for years.

Three years later, on one random day, I decided to download Fornite, and I fell in love straight away. I practiced a lot and finally found something in life that I genuinely enjoyed. Though I was happy then, I was never prepared for the toxicity I would face, for being a girl who plays video games.

The Ongoing Trash Talk

One of the best things about having a hobby such as gaming is that there are an endless amounts of games to play. Although I grew a love for Fortnite, I have played numerous games: Apex, League of Legends, Valorant, Warzone, and more. Sadly enough, there is one ongoing issue I have faced within all of these games: toxicity towards women.

Whether you are incredible at the game or horrible, someone will always have a reason to say something negative. In games such as Fortnite, you have the ability to 1v1 a random opponent. Just a few weeks ago, I had qued up to compete in a 1v1. After a few games, the score was 4-2, and I was winning. As the next round begins, my opponent turns on his mic and begins to trash talk me. He called me the "b word" numerous times and told his friend he was getting beat by some "fat chick on Fortnite." Some may see this as a joke, but what if that was a little girl on the other end? Would it be okay then? That is just one example of the hundreds I have faced in nearly every game I have played.

Besides the trash-talking, I have faced a variety of different negative interactions based on me being a girl. One time when I was playing Call of Duty: Warzone, I loaded into a game with a random squad. All I said was "hi," and one of the guys on my team went to leave. Someone in the background asked why he was leaving, and his response was, "I'm leaving because they're a girl and she will be bad."

I do not understand why people have not come to the realization that girls can be good at video games too.

"You're good for a girl."

This is the phrase I hear every single day when I play Fortnite. After two years of grinding and dedication, I can easily say that I am pretty decent at the game. I went from being carried every game with zero kills to pushing every kid in the lobby as I am looking for kills. Then, when my teammates die, they tend to spectate me, as my username makes it very well known to others that they just died to a girl, and they want to see if I am any good.

"You're good for a girl," "Woah there is no way your a girl," "Nah, you're using a voice changer. There is no way you're a girl". People will forever have their opinions on whether or not statements like this are actually made, but they most certainly are. Some may see this as a genuine compliment, but it truly is backhanded. When people make statements like this, what they truly mean is, "Wow. Most girls I have played with aren't very good at this game, but you are. You're only good compared to girls though. You're not as good as the boys".

Why do you continue to play?

After all my complaints, I am aware the number one question is most likely "Why do you continue to play?." This question is completely valid, and I understand why people would question it. But when you find that thing that you love, you are not going to let go of it because someone talks down on you. Although there are bad times, there will also always be good. I have made lifelong friends through video games and memories I will never forget. From laughing for hours to gaming until the sun starts to rise, gaming has a special place in my heart. Such a special place that I plan to pursue marketing within the Esports industry once I graduate.

Today, I wanted to spread light on this issue. I also want to let those who have been in a similar situation know that I am so proud of you and never give up on something that you love because of other people.

Aaliyah Eade
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Aaliyah is a High School Senior based in Florida. Since a young age, she has had a genuine passion for reading which led to her love for writing. In her free time, she’s a social media manager, freelance graphic designer, and a student teacher!