Nardi has a chapter dedicated to the role that gender played in World of Warcraft, in which she explains how it was like a “Boy’s Tree House” (152). This chapter interested me as someone who has played many online multiplayer games but not WoW specifically. Nardi’s description of the environment as mainly male dominated should be no surprise to anyone, but if you don’t know a lot about online games or haven’t heard stories from your friends, then it might surprise you how rude people actually are to each other. I can’t really understand what it is about this game in particular that makes people act this way, but from my experience in other games, Nardi’s description makes player behavior in WoW sound very unique and over-the-top. Reading some of your comments and posts it seems a lot of you have played Call of Duty, so using that as an example, I’m sure those of you who have played know that players can be quite obnoxious and rude in chat, using their microphone. Call of Duty is a type of game that allows you to mute a player like this, and you can continue on playing your game without penalty. WoW is a different sort of game to my understanding, where team communication is important, and it’s very hard to play, at least at a competitive level, without communication with your teammates. This leads players to join guilds and talk to each other on voice communication servers such as Ventrillo, Teamspeak, or Raid Call. Anything can be said in these channels without any moderation by game developers, which gives players a freedom to be be as rude as they want. Most players I know in games like these find a group of friends to play with and avoid such confrontations by sticking within their own group. Nardi writes about one such person in this chapter:

“Mrs. Pain reported that her daughter refused to play:

  • [13:56] Mrs. Pain: my daughter tried playing but she thought the players were too rude
  • [13:56] Mrs. Pain: I have certain ppl [people] I play with
  • [13:56] Mrs. Pain: and being an adult I could handle myself” (155)

Specifically the players are rude to other female players, but i can’t figure out what it is that promotes this sort of behavior in this game. Nardi writes that this behavior isn’t nearly as present and certainly not as acceptable in-person, so I wonder if these players act that way even outside the game. If that’s the case then the person is just generally a rude individual, which we know some people just are that way, but then shouldn’t we see these people acting this way in-person more often? What specifically about this one game makes people so hostile, where as in others there’s much less hostility?

There is a certain freedom granted in language for online games, and some things that aren’t really acceptable to say in public places are commonplace here, but there has to be a spot where the line is drawn and is considered going too far. Nardi seems to have a bit of an “Old-Fashioned” view of things in that she seems to say that saying curse words in the company of females is an unacceptable thing to do. I think that using them targeting females is generally unacceptable, but more accepted towards males (in a joking manner I mean). I personally view females as any other person however. What I mean by this is that you learn to kind of curb what you say to certain people based on the knowledge of them that you gain by getting to know them. Most females I know however have no problem with cursing, and some do it even more than I do. Nardi does make a point though when she says the type of words used are different, and I have to agree that I’ve never once heard a female call someone a “homo” (although even in males I haven’t heard this word used in a derogatory manner since middle school). Males generally do use different jokes and different language when conversing with other males, but this is not a game specific occurrence, and more a societal norm. Overall I’d say that gaming has a kind of culture to it that’s all its own, and you can’t compare it to everyday activities in the ways that Nardi does. This culture however, does not include the berating of females as a universally accepted practice.



4 thoughts on “Gender”

  1. I’ve noticed this too!! Even in the gamer world, women are discriminated upon. It seems as if women have to be two times tougher to play alongside men. I’ve never really gave it much thought but it seems absurd that women are talked down upon even while playing a game that no one can even see exactly who they are.

  2. I find this topic very interesting. I tend to think that the gaming world is male dominated. When I play Call of Duty with my four other friends (who are male), they often ostracize me or make comments that are derogatory. My friend and I can make the same mistake, but I would be the only one that would get called out for it because I’m the only girl. I don’t think that they try to make me feel inferior, I just think this is the mentality that the gaming world has created.

    I think its easier for people to speak their mind when they are playing video games or even when they’re behind a computer screen because they cannot see the person face to face. I think its a sign of weakness when someone feels the need to be disrespectful through social media or while playing video games.

  3. Call of Duty, yes. That game is a showcase of what people who get too angry can do. It’s not uncommon over Xbox Live to hear things like little kids (12ish, usually) getting into arguments with 20+ year olds, and the things people say to obviously female players near the top of the leaderboard are some of the worst. Everyone who has done any good in that game, I think, can attest to having been sent hate mail- you had the nerve to kill me, so now I’m gonna send you a message to make you know what a bad person you are for being so much better than me. One often hears the f-bomb so much it just becomes insignificant.

    In any combat related game, I usually see people just losing control of all that rage and aggression. I mean, getting killed in a game like CoD or Halo in any manner, I suppose, feels very personal. People shout “that was gay!” after they die pretty regularly. Apparently, “gay” in this sense has become a synonym for “bullshit.” But like Jacrossm mentioned, I can’t say I’ve heard females using it the same way. (I don’t hear girls talking in game much though, so I can’t be certain.) As I said, people take it so personally. Like, “this guy wasn’t just shooting some random enemy. That ****er shot me!” and off we go. Just plug in a mic and let it rip. The killer in the game will almost inevitably hear vulgar sex references and ways that they should go commit suicide. It isn’t just females that get some of the really awful language.

    I think I’ve seen more girls playing CoD as of late, but I don’t really pay attention, and often mute all the people with mics. I think most people do the same. But some people like the anonymity of the internet and seem to think, much like trolls, that they can say whatever comes to mind and shouldn’t have to censor their vulgarity for faceless names.

  4. I agree with kadeejah7295, it seems easier for people to speak their mind when they are behind a screen. I also believe that we need to break the commonplace idea that the subculture of gamers is dominated by males and stop the abuse of female gamers. (See

    However, we must also analyze the opposite side of spectrum, where female gamers are idolized and revered in their community. Before I get flamed for what seems like an anti-equality post, think about the inequality for the preferential treatment of women. It is easy to separate the treatment of women on the Internet and in games into two separate groups. There are cases like Jenny Haniver, where she is constantly verbally abused by other players on XBL, and there are cases where women are idolized for their status as a female gamer. The latter have often misused their status as a female gamer to receive free goods/services from male players. This affliction is known in the community as the White Knight Syndrome, where male gamers all flock to the aid of female gamers as if they were a damsel in distress. As a community we have to reach the ideal, where we do not classify any gamers as male or female but as a gamer. I seen way too many situations in which a female gamers abuse their status when they are clearly capable of accomplishing their own task. While we do need to limit the amount of injustice aimed at female gamers, female gamers must also reduce the abuse of being a damsel in distress.

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