She Got Game – Where The Hell Are The Female Pro Gamers?

Raise your hand if you have heard of Lisa Lane.

For those of you that raised your hand thinking that I meant to type Lois Lane – you can put your hand down and rest assured that I meant Lisa.

Lisa Lane is now 80 years old and she is better than you at chess.

Lisa Lane was also a mystery to me up until yesterday when I picked up a copy of Sports Illustrated while I was at my local gym trying to fight off the symptoms of my mid-30’s. Ms. Lane was among the top chess players in the world back in the 1960’s. Not only was she among the best in the world, she was the first chess player to make the cover of SI – yes, before Bobby Fischer. While still at the top of her game she quit playing chess competitively in the late 1960’s. Among the reasons she stopped playing and left public life was the fact that women were in a similar position that they are still in today – being paid less for equal work. Read the article on Ms. Lane, here.

The subject of equal opportunity and equal pay for women is still a major issue almost 60 years later. The evidence is damning and it should piss you off when you see it. Another article came out on January 3 talking about the pay for Washington Wizards Assistant Coach, Kristi Toliver who is also a player in the WNBA for the Washington Mystics (WNBA players make next to nothing when compared to NBA players).  Keep in mind that NBA Assistant Coaches make $100k+ annually as you continue reading.

Coach Toliver in action

Ms. Toliver makes $10,000 a year as an assistant with the Wizards. That isn’t a typo either. For more on this situation, check out the article here.

The ugly reality of women being mistreated and cheated out of jobs and equal pay as well as their rightful place among their peers is glaring and this is possibly most true in the gaming community. I am among the many that would fail if challenged to name one non-male professional gamer for any video game or platform. Go one more step if you will and find one that doesn’t use sex appeal to further their brand. That list you were making from a google search just went back down to zero.

Most gamers out there can name a few of the big names (Shroud, Ninja, Fatal1ty, etc.). It has struck me on many levels how dire the situation is when it comes to non-males in every other avenue of career. Take the US military stance on women in combat and ask yourself if you really think it’s a good idea to tell over half of the population that they aren’t qualified to protect their nation in a combat role if needed because of their genitals or assumed ‘lack of strength’. Yes, it is as stupid as I make it sound. The situation itself is infuriating if you actually think about it with a critical mind.

So, the question persists in other realms that don’t require such ‘macho’ tasks as lifting heavy things or throwing a ball far through the air (yes, I am rolling my eyes as I type this). Maybe one answer to why we don’t see non-males in professional gaming can be found by simply logging in and playing in an open lobby of Call of Duty. By the time a woman starts talking on her microphone you can almost guarantee that you will hear some jackass come out of the digital woodwork and say something disgusting or rude to her. Nine times out of ten, the verbal abuse will be unprovoked – it gets downright nasty and will reach a point that the woman simply leaves the game if she hasn’t muted the entire lobby itself. It’s no wonder non-males aren’t more prevalent in pro gaming (let alone casual gaming) when you see the nature of many of the bro-tastic gamers out there – if I were a woman, I’d be hard pressed to use my microphone in a public lobby and just kick some ass anonymously.

What makes this worse? There are some badass gamers out there that happen to be non-male. Why aren’t they more popular or marketed on pro teams or streams? The article about Lisa Lane isn’t just a story from the past – it is a reference point for the exact same issue that is happening with women in gaming (and everywhere else) in the present (just ask Kristi Toliver).

So, how do we fix this? With most other aspects of life and changing the societal structure to be fair for all people we need the efforts to happen from the top down. This doesn’t simply mean making a token change to a minor role – it means making for a level playing field in all aspects of sports, gaming, and workplaces altogether. It is my hope that I can be a voice of reason and start making the change that I’d like to see in the world.

So, if you are non-male and want to kick some ass on a Call of Duty squad (or almost any other game) and you see Outspoknpoet in your lobby send me an invite because when it comes to kicking some digital ass on my PS4 I don’t care who is on my team as long as they kick some ass too!

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Accessibility – The Game Changer We Should All Want

I was playing Blackout Duos with one of my friends the other day.  We were having a good time going through the map (even without finding any armor WHATSOEVER!!!! ARRRRRGH!!!).  As we were advancing towards the border of the first circle I said I could hear an enemy vehicle coming from the left side of our advance.  I expected him to say that he heard it as well.  Only, he didn’t hear it at all.

I learned at that moment that one of my gaming friends was deaf in his left ear and it didn’t make me think any less of him – but it did change our tactics for the rest of the match and from that point forward.  I didn’t really make a big deal about it, but I did suggest that I could take the left side of our tiny formation at that point.  He agreed that it would be a good idea and we moved on – it was that simple.

I haven’t been able to shake that experience over the last few days.  As a former teacher I had to take into account all sorts of learning disabilities and different general learning styles.  One of the biggest aspects of allowing all students the same opportunities to learn in a classroom is access above all other things (this also goes hand-in-hand with what those in education call full-inclusion).  If you went to public school during the late 1980’s and throughout the 1990’s you might remember a lot of classmates being pulled from class in order to get assistance with their schoolwork in any number of subjects.  They might have had dyslexia or some other issue that simply meant they needed extra help to stay with the class or at least accomplish the same requirements of others.  I never liked the idea of removing students from the classroom when I was a student and I certainly didn’t like it as a teacher.  While there are some aspects that might require occasional departures from the class, most students with disabilities want to be with their classmates.  This is the same case with gaming… except, there isn’t an opportunity for those with disabilities to seek access to games where they aren’t at what we could consider a competitive disadvantage.

That’s where our assumptions still get us in trouble.  The idea that someone needs special treatment in order to succeed in gaming is the complete opposite of what needs to happen.  How you treat your fellow gamer has nothing to do with their mental or physical capabilities.  You treat them like any other friend or family member.  The one aspect you might start demanding is for developers (both hardware and software) to consider making changes and modifications to controllers, sound mixing, and other aspects that move everyone closer to full-inclusion.

Microsoft has a great commercial that focuses on access being something that allows ALL gamers to play the same games and support each other.  

This video pulled at my heartstrings.  Pretty sure that was the idea.

The other reason every gamer should be demanding changes and modifications to games, hardware, and peripherals (controllers, etc.) is because it will not only open the games we love to play to those with disabilities, but it will continue to drive further innovation in ways we might not even consider.  We continue to see so many amazing changes in technology at a pace that is difficult to grasp – it’s only a matter of time before we will be able to play games with our friends that can’t grasp a controller in the first place.  Actually, nevermind… there are already people that are finding a way to wreck on Blackout without actually being able to hold the controller.

Don’t forget the value of opening your mind a little bit.  You might actually like what happens when you come to better understand the needs of others.  

Here are a couple websites for you to check out if you want to dive a bit deeper into helping fellow gamers.

Able Gamers –
People with disabilities wants the same thing that all gamers want, to have fun with their friends, and family. There are so many challenges that come with living with a disability, social isolation, is one of them. Video games are unique in that we ALL use them to excape our days, and join our friends, and total strangers in a quest to win. That is where AbleGamers comes in.https://ablegamers.org/

StackUp –
Founded in 2015, Stack Up brings both veterans and civilian supporters together through a shared love of video gaming through our primary programs: The StacksSupply CratesAir Assaults and the Stack Up Overwatch Program [StOP].https://stackup.org/

WTF Is Gamergate? And Why You Should Care.

Having a difficult time understanding the ‘Gamergate’ situation?  So was I.

Apparently, I have been living under a rock (mostly being outside/not on the internet) – for which I will not apologize.

Now – ON!  TO GAMERGATE!

Drama

From what I have gathered, it all started when a female indie game developer and her boyfriend split up.  He then decided to write a blog that supposedly named names of the men she cheated on him with.  These supposed trysts included game reviewers and perhaps even her boss.  This was meant to point fingers at the fact that she (allegedly) did this in order to gain better reviews for her text-based (emo) game, Depression Quest (no, I’m not kidding).  Sorry, but any game that ends with a link to the Suicide Prevention Hotline is a strange emo version of entertainment and begs for attention at best.  Sadly, depression and suicide are quite common in a world so jacked up as this one (see above/below).

Ok.  At this point I can understand the supposed conflict of interests.  A person is using sexual advances in order to… advance.  Well, so does porn and we all know the internet was made for that (see joke here).  What is the real issue?  It is the fact that this apparent spark has ignited a powder keg of misogynistic outrage that is overflowing around the internet.

What started as some blip on the indie-game radar (that many of us never would have known about otherwise) has now started to increase into some sort of blob of misplaced chauvinistic rage.  These apparent ‘men/little boys’ have now resorted to threatening numerous women that are speaking out about the issues of women in gaming.  It has gotten rather ugly with threats and harassment following many of them – including Felicia Day.  Again, I must live under a rock (that doesn’t include watching TV more than 7 hours a week (Sunday football)… I had no idea who Felicia Day was until I saw a story about her getting harassed by internet scumbags.  She is on a show called Supernatural (of which I have heard of thanks to Netflix.)

This isn’t some issue that is going to go away at this point – nor should it.  It is supposedly about the ‘ethics’ of gaming journalism which in and of itself is hilarious (consider your current position on the internet, reading my views – it is all biased and willing to sell out in most cases).  In case you haven’t noticed, we are now living in a society that demands the TMZ ‘style’ of breaking news that we hope will pique our interest until the next Gangnam Style video surfaces.  (Oh, humanity… we’re screwed).

This is showing the ugly face of misogynistic gamers and game developers out there.  I will admit that when I was 13 I certainly tried to find a code for Tomb Raider… don’t play coy – you know what ‘code’ I’m talking about – and if you are 27-35 you probably did too!  The gaming industry has been dominated for decades by men and typically when those men decide to plaster hugely busty (and always almost naked) women into their games as selling points it isn’t hard to see the issue.

They are digital pimps and their artistic creations are their digital prostitutes.  This isn’t something new to the world of entertainment.  Whether it is movies or music it is always about selling sex for the most part.  It just so happens that right now in a multi-billion dollar industry they are selling it in droves.  It would be one thing if scantly clad characters (not just women) were included for obvious ‘situational’ reasons.  However, the fact that women are being portrayed nearly naked or with severely exaggerated features in situations that really don’t demand that is a bit insulting to females and gamers as a whole.  One example is a screenshot from the new Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (which I am admittedly excited for – because of the story, not the example below).

phantompainss
This doesn’t really speak to ‘battlefield’ functionality very much.

I think this speaks volumes about what feminists everywhere are trying to say.  Keep in mind that being a feminist doesn’t mean feminazi-women – it refers to men and women that want to see the world view of women shift from where it has been.  Women are active and valuable members of society and we should all do our part to make sure that we are the voices of reason in the midst of a vocal minority that is screaming out of fear of having their digital cleavage taken away.

What is the best part about Gamergate?  The fact that these noisy little hate-mongering misogynistic pukes are showing how small they really are.

What is the best thing to do in this situation?  Educate yourself, voice your views of reason to developers (believe it or not they do listen) and let the cry-babies cry themselves to sleep… in their basement, streaming internet porn – alone.