Waiting for a coffee at my local café, a fellow customer noticed my Bioshock Infinite t-shirt. How did I know he noticed? Because he was glaring at me with what could only be described as haughty disapproval. My curiosity at his reaction was quickly satisfied when he suddenly and venomously accused: “You probably haven’t even played it”.
Despite the overwhelming majority of my colleagues, readers and viewers being completely accepting of my work in the gaming industry, I meet skepticism about my passion for video games on a daily basis. I’m not even going into the abuse I get whilst gaming online. Once people get to know me they quickly learn I am “legit” – but does this happen to my male counterparts? Sometimes, of course, but absolutely not to this extent. Reasons I’ve been given for my “obvious geek fakery” range from having worked as a model, an actor, and having passions outside of gaming or the “geek world” but the most common by far is my physical appearance and ultimately, gender.
This incredulity at my existence not only in gaming media but even just as someone who simply enjoys gaming has even extended to questions about the legitimacy of the event I described in my tweet. Did I believe I should tweet about the best comeback I’ve ever had to someone accusing me of being a “fake geek girl” – to my face? Without question. I tweet about when I’m watching Adventure Time or when I’ve eaten too much cheese, why not this? Did I have any idea it would go viral? Not a chance. I’m hoping with this post I can clear up some questions asked.
I’ve never been a confrontational person. Standing up for myself in person is something that terrifies me, and I was shaking not only with anger but at the thought of responding to this man. Did I consider just ignoring him? Yes – that’s my usual default in situations like this. That, or just saying something like “Oh, yeah – actually I have. I finished it a few days ago – have you played it yet?”. Trying to turn the conversation into something amicable is something that years of hospitality training ingrained into me. But this man was aggressive and rude, and I’d made a promise to myself recently to never stand for this kind of behaviour, no matter how difficult it was for me.
My first thought was to tell him the ending as a way of proving I’d played it. Why I should even have to aside, the idea he could have a retort along the lines of “you just read a wiki” or “you probably watched it on YouTube” didn’t occur to me – this happened quite quickly after all. As I’d finished the game myself only 3 days earlier, and discussed it in length as a guest on the GameArena Podcast 2 days before, the key points were fresh in my mind. What I ended up (calmly, mind you, despite my anger) telling him was enough to be obvious that I had in fact played the game, whilst – yes – at the same time spoiling it for him if he hadn’t. In the midst of doing so, I realised by the look on his face he mustn’t have finished the game himself.
I won’t lie, it felt fantastic to have someone who was intending to make me feel awful – on my birthday of all days – have the tables turned on him. Does that make me a bad person? You tell me. I collected my coffee, then walked away with the biggest grin on my face, adrenalin coursing through my body. There were only two other customers at the coffee shop, both sitting some distance away, and I’m honestly not sure if the barista overheard the conversation. I do sincerely hope I didn’t spoil it for anyone else. I can’t even begin to describe how proud I was for standing up for myself. I deal with guys like this online every single day, and to be able to get revenge – with dignity – felt unbelievably good.
I could never have predicted what would follow. Within minutes of tweeting the incident I’d received hundreds of retweets (there has been accusations I receive career and financial gain for this – I can assure you that assumption is categorically false). Within an hour I was trending on San Francisco then the United Kingdom, Canada, Melbourne, Australia and finally my hometown of Sydney. Whilst buzzing from the enormity of what was happening on twitter I was contacted for an interview with media news site IT Journo.
It ended up on tumblr and was reblogged by Gail Simone, a writer for the Wonder Woman comic series, of which I am a huge fan. The Mary Sue wrote a story on it. It hit the front page of memebase. Wil Wheaton reblogged it on his tumblr, then responded to my thanking him on twitter. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more surreal, Forbes wrote an article. Imgur posted it. It was added in a buzzfeed and shared all over facebook and instagram. I was inundated with thousands of people thanking me for standing up to that man. I’ve been called a hero, an inspiration, a badass, a liar and a drama queen.
All I did was what I felt was the right thing, in a moment of frustration, brought on by years of being the target of misogyny online – culminating in that one real life opportunity to fight back.
I’m hoping this serves to answer some questions I’ve been asked via twitter and in the comments of articles on other sites. If you do have any further questions I’m happy to answer them here. Also, please – share your stories of similar events – I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been able to manage a killer comeback. I’ll be deleting any Bioshock Infinte spoilers from the comments, so there’s no need to fear scrolling below!
EDIT: It has also come to my attention that Courtnee Draper, the voice of Elizabeth also responded to my tweet! The amount of support I have received is truly amazing, and I can only hope it encourages others to not stay silent in a similar situation.
Right now I think you’re even more amazing. And odd one of the first times we really talked we talked about how amazing this game was and good the ending is.
People out there are jerks, and idiots. I’m really happy you stood up for yourself in this, and that the exposure made more people see what it can be like to be a geek girl every day.
This is absolutely true, Rose–although I wouldn’t blame the “hot” girls for it at all. I’m a nerd (fantasy/sci-fi reader, avid gamer, supersmart, etc.), and I’ve never gotten flack for it from any of the guys. It know that it’s because I’m… fat.
Being physically unattractive was for many years the shibboleth into geekdom for both men and women. It’s still a little weird for many of us oldschoolers now that hot men *and* hot women have taken up many of the same hobbies. It used to be our solace for not being accepted!
Funneh, when I was growing up, and guys found out I played video games, no one made a bit malarky about it…not even in my twenties. Maybe there’s more emphasis on it now because of social media and our beloved memes. Or….
Maybe……male gamers doen’t care if you’re a girl – maybe they only REALLY care when you’re an ATTRACTIVE girl.
The only first hand examples I can point out are when I was playing Final Fantasy XI online back then and people used to bomb a site called Faces of FFXI, where you could post real life pics of yourself and tie it in with your toon and server. The minute they saw a pic of a particular attractive girl player, all of a sudden, the guys would go bananas – and she would get all sorts of comments, both negative and positive.
Even now, in my current online game, my guild master (who will remain nameless because I still want to stay in this guild 😉 HAD to invite one particular girl in our legion because she was “hot” (they had skyped together).
Sooo….. what does all this have to do with this post? I believe – and I’m going to get flamed for this – it DID have to do with your appearance…..my opinion really….and I think the guy was just being a jerk because he wrongly assumed – as we all do sometimes -that you were probably the typical “attention whore” wannabe gamer girl that probably flirted with every guy for free items or what not and you were just wearing that shirt for that reason.
Of course, we all change our opinions growing up – and I’ve met and partied with hardcore gamer girls that are awesome. But sorry to say, I only ever see a girl get flamed or get attention for playing video games when she is considered “hot”.
Let’s hope this trend dies down though…because let’s be honest, EVENTUALLY the glamour of finding a cute gamer girl will fall to pieces if you’re a crappy healer or shooter… and you constantly keep mpking everyone….
This made my day. I wish all jerks like this could get ‘the Rae treatment’.
It’s really ridiculous how many people treat playing video games like it’s an elite ‘mens only’ club.
Once a guy got enraged and felt the need to point out that I am woman – claiming I was pretending to be male simply because I was talking about games. :/
When will people realize there is nothing special about playing video games. Both men and women play them – jerks need to move on. It’s no more elite than watching television.
The same bitter angry guys that bitch about attractive girls – are the same guys that can’t understand why they are single.
Protip – don’t be a hostile sexist man-child.
I am so sick of people assuming that because I’m female I don’t play games! But the Lara (game) figurine on my desk along with Lenore & Buffy are changing their minds. Well done.
Mind you, peeps check out my Lara t-shirt, but I suspect it’s cause her knockers are in line with mine… I just wish I had more time for gaming, but with a 2-yr-old and a 6-yr-old, I really don’t.
I said I was accusing you of being an attention seeker. One more time – do you have anything to contribute or are you just here seeking attention? If not, goodbye.
Ah, so you are willing to admit you are an attention- seeker as well. My task is done.
Unless you have something to contribute here, yes I am.
Are you really accusing someone else of being an attention seeker?
Thank you! It really is a fantastic game. Tomb Raider is great! I gave it my game of the Month in the May edition of Techlife.
Ah, online COD is a minefield of pre-teen and teen boys :/ I avoid it at all costs. Hopefully the tide will turn and one day we won’t have abuse like that anymore.
Haha thank you Minka!
I hope he does think twice 🙂 I’d love to run into him again and ask him! Thanks for sharing your story 🙂
YOU’RE awesome! Thank you so much for sharing your story and your kind words 🙂
Thank you for letting me know! I totally missed it , and have now added it to the post 😀 How amazing is that!
I don’t have a publicist. Now, do you have an actual question for me or are you just here for attention?
Lolz, I was referring to Rae’s story. Your story doesn’t smack of a desperate bid for publicity the way her little fairy tale does.
Blah blah… Don’t whine at me. I’m not your mum sweetheart….
Cool story bro … Did you make it up yourself or did a publicist help you come up with it?
Since the early nineties I have rejoiced and been proud of nerdom becoming the new cool. However of late I have noticed the tendency of “gamer boys” to behave like six year olds no matter what their age when dealing with women or girls with the same interests. I have seen it with conventions, cosplay ,reenactment and movie premieres. I am saddened to admit that it seems to be a case of the bullied becoming bullies. Insecurity pervades all social strata but to see “gamer boys” stoop to such tactics in order to feel better about themselves by targeting a subset of geek/nerdom/gaming culture is indeed scraping the barrel of decent behavior and I applaud the author giving this snob a social blood nose. @wolfgramm The authors looks as well as the offenders stereotypes have no grounds for excusing his behavior. He deserved it, got owned and needs to blunt his attitudes elsewhere. If he can’t handle female gamers, he needs to get a new pastime. No wonder I abstain from playing online…. Nb: “boy gamers” refers to the peer groups language and attitudes online. Not the chronological age.
This is going to become a thing amongst gaming “journalists” maybe they will model a character after you in the AAA game.
Good for you…I literally just started playing it and I must say it is pretty awesome. I also highly recommend checking out the new Tomb Raider game if you have not checked that out as well.
Great job standing up for yourself and female gamers. One of my PS3 friends is a girl and we play Call of Duty together a lot because my old group kind of moved on without me after I took a long beak from playing. She gets a lot of hate thrown her way just because, based on my own personal observations, most of the men in this generation are taking an extremely long time to grow up. Lot of “bitches need to be seen and not heard” or “go make a sammich” comments for her. It’s sick. And whenever I say anything in her defense, I just get accused of trying to sleep with her…even though she lives in another country, is much younger than me, and we likely have a less than 1% chance of ever meeting each other. Not that she needs my help brushing these guys off…sometimes other people being rude just compels you to speak up, like you so awesomely did in the coffee shop.
Oh my god, when I saw your tweet this morning on theCHIVE, I couldn’t help but laugh so hard that everyone on the bus was looking at me as if were a weird crazy person. I told my brother what you had tweeted because he plays this game and his comment about this was “Wow that’s what he gets for doing that….do you want to know the ending?” Lol I have never play this game but I love to see my brother play it (:
I’m just happy that you get to do something so amazing that most people would had not been able to do. I come to believe that you’re and amazing and awesome women to have done that. (:
Dudebro, your comment makes me want to go scrub my hands with a wire brush but this part in particular:
“It would’ve been even more of a WIN if you had seductively whispered in his ear the ending to him and walked away.”
…is gross on so many levels I don’t even know where to start.
Dear God, how could you be so unfathomably stupid. You have missed the entire point of the story and indeed committed the exact same offense as the man in the coffee shop.
She is not a “beautiful woman,” she’s a person. I guess you’re one of those moronic people who think women dote on your every opinion as if it mattered worth a damn. News flash buddy, it doesn’t count as a compliment to belittle somebody’s gender and cast them as an object. Nobody gives the first flying fuck who you do or don’t find attractive, and it’s hardly germane to the discussion.
You seem to be under the impression that this guy’s real mistake was not flirting with Ms. Johnston. Oh yes, he’s certainly “an idiot for not even trying to spark a conversation.” Or maybe he’s an idiot for being a misogynistic blowhard living under a 19th-century gender paradigm. You know, kind of like you.
One more thing. Being teased or harassed in the past does not justify harassing someone else for a different reason. I know you offered up some pathetic protest about how you’re “not trying to defend him.” Don’t be so cowardly. That was, in fact, the entire purpose of your post. Well, that and to cat-call through the internet at someone who’s obviously leagues above you.
If you could kindly grow up it would be greatly appreciated.
It was our pleasure to post about this on The Mary Sue (and ban the troll who insisted you were a liar). 🙂
“Well I can’t blame him. Look at ya!”
This is the kind of thinking/comments that need to stop. Her physical attributes should have nothing to do with it.
I’m going to join the legion of people who thanked you for posting this. And you totally are a badass.
I’ve actually been really lucky in my online life; I’ve always been surrounded by awesome people. The only incident that even points at the fake girl gamer thing was actually kind of hilarious.
Some backstory: I play EVE Online. And being a naturally kind person in a game that really isn’t very rookie-friendly, I like to help people out.
So one night, I’m helping a new alliance member fit his shiny new Drake (he’d just skilled up enough to use it and was INCREDIBLY excited) in a private convo while waiting for a fleet operation to start. I was helping him from an alt, because my main isn’t PVP cabable (nature’s carebear is what I am lol) and I usually use my alt for any activities that may result in podding. My TS name is still my main character’s name, however, resulting in much entertainment when he came on TS while I was speaking. He kind of spoke over me several times, explaining how awesome this guy was who was helping him fit his Drake. I didn’t say anything until he said something in text chat. I can’t remember the exact words but it went along the tones of ‘there’s this chick on comms who won’t shut up, must have stolen her boyfriend’s headset, can you come tell her to shut it please’ and I just cracked up.
What did I do?
I read what he said aloud to the entire fleet.
I suppose someone must have taken him aside to tell him that the person he had just insulted was also the person in charge of the entire alliance’s logistics.
He apologized profusely and went offline, and I never saw him again.
I felt a little bit bad about maybe having driven him away from EVE. Until I realized that if I hadn’t been in that specific alliance, in a position of power, it would have been completely different, and that I didn’t know how many girls who didn’t have my support structure, who weren’t in positions of power, he had made to feel stupid, or unwelcome, or like they weren’t real gamers. Then, I was kind of glad. And I hoped that in future he may have thought twice before talking smack about people online. But at the very least I was happy he wasn’t playing EVE anymore, wasn’t stomping around MY playground and telling me to go play with my dolls.
I got lucky; I was brought into the game by my brother, who introduced me to awesome people who didn’t demand pictures of my breasts, I had good people around me and I was in my safe space, a safe space that my alliance members helped me create.
If I had been anywhere else, in any other game, with any other group, I wouldn’t have laughed at him. I wouldn’t have spoken up. I would have kept quiet, and felt bad, and gone to bed that night thinking that maybe gaming really isn’t for girls.
So thanks for sticking up for yourself, Rae, because every time you do, you’re sticking up for us too. Maybe that guy will think twice before he implies that girls can’t be gamers again.
Thanks for setting an example and standing up for all girls who have faced these situations. It really sucks to be a girl that enjoys everything “geeky” from Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings to reading comics, watching anime, and yes, playing crazy-mind blowing video games, but yet, when I try to express my love for these things through merchandise, online gaming, social media, or even open discussion, I get called out and others doubt my credibility. Yes, those close to me know I am “legit” as well, but the frustration still remains.
Fact is, I don’t play games, watch certain television shows, or read certain books for the benefit of others. I do it for me, because I love it and because it really is something special to me and is part of who I am and what I love.
It’s really tough to decide what to do when faced with such a situation. Inside I am fuming, tears threatening to spill over in some cases, but I always stay quiet. “Why waste my breath?” Why not? Why not stand up for myself for once and defend my passions AND my gender? No one–man or woman–should feel threatened by being a fan of something and wanting to show it. If I see someone showing pride in what they love, then kudos to them! And if it is something I am a fan of as well, then I feel like I have made a friend without even speaking. It makes me happy to see others in Assassin’s Creed shirts or driving around with a Deathly Hallows decal on their car. Gender shouldn’t define what we see as a “true” or “fake” fan.
I may not tell someone who Elizabeth truly is or lay out a floor plan of what I think happened during the BBC Sherlock Reichenbach fall, but I definitely will take pride in the things I love, and I sure as heck will stand up for it. Thanks for the inspiration, you’re totally awesome!
I know you have probably got TONNES of mentions on twitter, but I don’t know if you noticed, I did as I was up early watching baseball on the weekend, but the voice actress for Elizabeth tweeted you. Just thought I would let you know, just in case you missed it.
Well done 🙂
Well I can’t blame him. Look at ya!
This is how I see it. My guess is in his past he would’ve been teased and bullied by other people (some females) growing up because he was a “geek” and he liked “video games” etc. Females aren’t just his thing. Video games hasn’t just been seen as a “male activity” but been perceived as a childish activity to parents and to their children while growing up in the past.
To see a beautiful woman like you Rae, wearing a B.I. t-shirt!!!!!! Would’ve automatically flicked a switch and took him back to a time when he was ridiculed for his gaming and no doubt triggered his geek fakery button.
I think this theory would be highly likely.
It would’ve been even more of a WIN if you had seductively whispered in his ear the ending to him and walked away. 😉
Or even just plainly asked him “Whoa! What’s with the hostility bro?” and talked it out. He may even still be out there not knowing of what is occuring and trying to bring down another female gamers right this minute.
I’m not trying to defend him, but I’m sure you can appreciate what gamers have gone through in the past up until now.
He’s an idiot for not even trying to spark a conversation with you in the first place! (I would smack him senseless if I saw him) He’s also an idiot for being a rude prick. I’m also glad you stood up for yourself but I’m a lover not a fighter. 🙂
The moral is there is always 2 sides of the story.
Loving what you’re doing for the gaming community, especially in Australia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reblogged this on SitRelaxEnjoy and commented:
An awesome and fairly humble response to the misconception of female fans in the world of gaming. It was a great tweet and I’m glad it hasn’t gone to her head.
Without a doubt, you did the right thing. I think it was early on when I saw the tweet, but I found it significant enough that I told my wife about it. At the time, she was also playing through B:I, and could definitely appreciate both what it’s like to be accused of being a ‘fake gamer girl’, as well as knowing how big a spoiler for that would feel.
Her response? Good for you, sucked in for him.
It’s probably naive of me to think this represents the turning of a tide (because we do need one), but it’s great to see how much support you’ve gotten, and makes me hopeful that repeating a story like this will one day have to begin with “Twenty years ago…”