There’s a crime scene in my pants and I’m going to talk about it.
This story was originally published in May 2016.
It isn’t difficult to find a cornucopia of articles and advice online when it comes to our monthly Red Weddings – pain relief tricks, comfort food tips and even movies to help us forget that there is blood leaking from our lady caves. Even so, these pieces tend to be airbrushed, mostly with cartoons and diagrams. Alternatively, we are presented with pastel shaded photographs of North Shore types sipping green tea underneath their cashmere throws.
That isn’t to say that periods aren’t occasionally brought to the forefront of our Facebook timelines. Articles that highlight period shaming, as well as the societal impact of it, do periodically emerge. Sometimes celebrity names will even be thrown into the mix to normalise what is, ironically, one of the most natural and widely experienced things in existence. The menstrual flood gates were even opened on Reddit back in 2014 when women began purposely posting en masse about the realities of blood clumps and period shits after the TwoXChromosomes subreddit was infiltrated by sexist trolls.
Unsurprisingly, I haven’t been able to find much written about periods in relation to video games. When you take an industry that’s largely dominated by a patriarchal mentality and add a topic that is often still considered to be taboo and ‘gross’, this is to be expected.
I can’t speak for other women out there, because we all have different experiences when it comes to our own personal brand of box wine. However, I can disclose that my periods noticeably effect me both physically and emotionally. This is exacerbated by the fact that I combat endometriosis by using The Pill to control my red sea like mother fucking Poseidon. The downside of acting in this god-like fashion is that when I do allow my period to emerge once every three months, it returns with a vengeance. It makes any FromSoftware game seem like a charming, player-friendly jaunt. There’s a reason they called it Bloodborne.
As someone who places a great deal of importance on emotions when it comes to games, it makes sense that I’m influenced by my periods. PMS is a real and perfectly legitimate thing, regardless of what society might tell us. Frankly, I’m sick of downplaying its impact, pretending it doesn’t exist and feeling like it’s something to be ashamed of. We don’t “just” have an abundance of hormones messing with us and we don’t “just” have blood gushing from our Xboxes. These things are there, and that’s perfectly okay.
For me, PMS can manifest either before or during the blood bath and can transform me into a raging harpy or a crying mess. It’s super fun, especially when I have to then justify or explain it. Interestingly, I have found that my penchant for certain genres will change depending on my period-induced mood.
If I’m erring on the side of sad and emotional, I will gravitate towards titles that are heavy handed with the narrative and characterisation. That’s the reality of my situation right now and I’m finding solace in the likes of Oxenfree, Firewatch and Stardew Valley. Although the latter isn’t exactly a revelation in storytelling, I have found myself really connecting to the little town, which is appealing to the Period Monster. I will also find comfort in old favourites, particularly open world RPGs such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect and The Elder Scrolls series.
However, when I am being fuelled by a blood-induced rage on certain months, gratuitously violent FPS games are the only way to satiate me. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is an aptly named favourite, which I think goes back to the notion of comfort. This game is reminiscent of the old school FPS titles of my childhood, so it feels like a safe and familiar space to release the tension. I also having a feeling the the new Doom will be on high rotation in the future for the same reason. On the odd occasion when I need something a little lighter, I might revisit Fallout 3, although this has been somewhat replaced by laying waste to street scum in The Division of late. I don’t know what would even happen if I rode into the DZ on my cotton pony – it’s a terrifying thought experiment.
I’m hoping that this short exercise in oversharing will make my fellow lady gamers out there feel more comfortable in sharing their experiences. Furthermore, I’m seeing it as an opportunity to score some fantastic game recommendations. What do you play when your uterus is defragging?