This is day 15 of Blaugust.
Today I was out game hunting with my boyfriend and a couple other (male) friends. We had been to number of places, and I was getting kind of bored since I have no games on my wanted list right now and generally just don’t enjoy shopping or flea markets. We went to a little place we had been to a couple times, and the guy behind the counter was someone I hadn’t seen before.
“You look a little lost, dear. Let me guess, you’re a non-gamer surrounded by gamers?”
I looked at him as his stupid comment took a second to process.
“I’m a gamer,” I replied. “I’m just not much of a shopper.”
He went on asking if people just handed me games to play, as I walked deeper into the shop, away from him.
“That guy’s an idiot,” said my boyfriend once we were out of earshot. “I’m surprised you didn’t go off on him.”
It wasn’t the first time I had gotten a comment along those lines, I doubt any woman is a stranger to the old “Are you buying this for yourself?” question at certain video game chains stores.
I wasn’t looking to buy anything (especially not now), so I took out my phone and started browsing Twitter.
“Oh, I see. You’re not much of a shopper because you’re on eBay.” Apparently the store clerk hadn’t run his mouth enough yet. I wasn’t sure if he was insinuating that I do my game shopping on eBay or that I was price-checking things in his store but it doesn’t really matter.
“No, I just own every single video game I want right now,” I tell him.
“How’d you mange that? Digital?”
“Oh, don’t tell me the only video games you want are Sing Star and Dance Dance Revolution.”
Fuck. He clearly wasn’t stopping so I engaged full-on ignore mode, and went back to my phone.
“Don’t tell me I touched a nerve.”
And then we left. My boyfriend was astonished that the man just wouldn’t stop talking. As we walked away, even another guy that had been in the store commented on what a jackass the clerk had been.
I was so mad, I don’t understand how people can be so stupid. If you’re that clueless, at least do everyone a favor and shut up. Besides being horribly sexist and out of touch with reality, it’s a very bad sales tactic to question the “gamerness” people who come in your store.
I’ve always had it pretty good as a woman who plays video games. I’ve really never experienced harassment beyond the very occasional troll-y blog comment, a few “you’re a girl? really?” comments in WoW, or above-mentioned questions about if I’m buying games for myself. I try to surround myself with people who aren’t morons, so this kind of stuff doesn’t come up too often. But it’s pretty shitty when it does, and it’s been building up.
However, these kinds of things don’t make me want to withdraw from public gaming spaces, it’s actually the opposite. Now I feel this urge to make myself as visible as possible. Where I would have ordered a new game online, I now feel like I have to do my buying in person, so people see women buying games and are maybe less inclined to make a stupid comment to the next woman who comes in. When a teammate in HotS exclaims “Good job, fellas” after a successful team fight, I feel the need to obnoxiously proclaim “I’m no fella!”
Of course, then I’ll probably be accused of attention seeking.
If you feel like commiserating, feel free to share your shitty gaming gender discrimination stories.