The latest Call of Duty's out today and there's going to be lots of trash talk and cuss words among the many fans who'll be cutting class, calling in sick and otherwise shirking their duties to play the latest entry in Activision's best -selling FPS series. But, as Jenny Haniver can attest, there's a special kind of trash talk reserved for female players. It's filled with casual sexism, vulgar slurs and an angry dismissiveness of any skills a woman playing an online game might show.
As a longtime fan of first-person shooters and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in particular, Haniver — which isn't, by the way, her real name — has heard the vitriol of online competitive play for years now. But she's doing something a bit different than other female gamers: she's recording it. Haniver archives the saddest, most misanthropic chatter she's confronted with on Not in the Kitchen Anymore, a blog that grew out of an art project she did last year. That project plastered excerpts from the verbal harassment she'd run into onto the walls of an exhibition space and Jenny's continued that same work in digital form. Not in the Kitchen Anymore holds up a mirror to those who've supposedly got skills in the headshot, grenade toss and melee arenas and shows what it looks like when they lack simple human decency, the most basic skill of all.
So, on the day of release for the latest Modern Warfare, Kotaku asked Jenny to share the most angry recordings that she's made playing MW2 — as well as other FPSes — along with some of her own commentary.
If you are a female who plays online games, it's an almost automatic guarantee that some guys will assume that you are fat. Or that you have nothing better to do, because you're forever alone. But if you try and turn it around and suggest that, perhaps since they're on the same game, at the same time, maybe THEY'RE fat loners too… That's just madness!
Occasionally, guys will admit that you legitimately have some skills at whatever game you're playing. At first, this can seem promising, but hold on- don't get too excited! This sort of comment is almost invariably followed by an insult.
Another typical male comment is that girls online sound like 12 year old boys, or men. This is supposed to be degrading to the female gamer ("Oh no! Some guy on the internet thinks I sound like a boy?? Time to cry myself to sleep again."), but is mostly just humorous.
It seems outrageous that female gamers like to game just because it's fun! Surely it must be for an alternative reason? Perhaps you're secretly just hoping to meet the perfect man over Xbox live. If that's the case, lucky you! There are persistent fellows willing to pitch virtual woo at you, even from across the world.
And, of course, guys are not the only perpetrators. From time to time, you will run into The Only Girl On The Internet. Since women are an acknowledged minority in the gaming community, a few girls can get territorial about their gamer status. This leads to a Highlander mentality (there can only be one!). It can be disastrous for all parties involved if another woman stumbles into the same lobby as one of these girls.
You can read and listen to more of Jenny's recordings at Not in the Kitchen Anymore.