Breaking News: Women Play Video Games

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.

22 responses to “Breaking News: Women Play Video Games

  1. what in the heck is wrong with people

  2. Commiserations! I’ve been thinking about starting streaming for this reason, to show a little more diversity, but I’m not sure I can deal with the inevitable hate from people who think I’m not pretty/thin enough and the people who assume I’m sexting my subscribers or something.

    As for my story, this one’s from a different kind of gaming store: Wargaming. I was browsing the fantasy section and got asked, “What does your boyfriend play?”

    “He plays Empire.” I said.

    “Well you’re looking at Tomb Kings there, Empire is over here.”

    “Yes, I know thanks.” I turned away and continued to browse Tomb Kings.

    “Let me explain to you how this game works,” He says, in his most helpful voice, “You see people play a particular army, so buying him Tomb Kings wouldn’t help him…”

    “No, but it might help me with my Tomb Kings army.” I interrupted.

    “Oh…” He said and looked around desperately for some sort of flotation device.

    • Women streamers (especially the popular) ones really seem to make people angry. Just a week or two ago the old “they’re only popular because boobs” argument raised its ugly head again.

      I think part of basic customer service training for pretty much any store should tell people to assume that the person coming into the store is shopping for themselves. If they’re not and they need things explained to them, they’ll tell you.

  3. You should have asked to speak to the manager to complain and / or possibly get him fired. Rudeness has no place in any customer facing role.
    Joseph Skyrim recently posted..Dragon Age: Redemption and Dawn of the Seeker

    • Yeah, I would have if it were a GameStop or something, but this was just a booth in a flea market, there wasn’t a lot of structure.

  4. WOW some people are just massive knob-heads.
    Of course some people believe it’s their right to make a point no matter who it impacts.
    It’s a shame that you have been to that shop before with no issue and that one person can drive potential customers away from ever visiting.
    @Trax my wife had a similar experience with gaming model shops.
    welshtroll recently posted..A mixture of things

  5. Me: Grown woman with a (then) career in network support.
    The scene: The new computer parts store in town.

    I wander in. “Hi! I was wondering what your options were for 1GB desktop RAM.”

    The counter guy comes back with, “Hmmm. Okay, honey, so RAM is this stuff that goes in the big computer box under your desk.”

    What I wanted to reply but did not: “Oh really? I thought I was supposed to just shove it in my vagina.”
    Liore recently posted..#Blaugust 14: Fallout Shelter for Android

    • ugggh.

      I wish if people had to use gender stereotypes, salespeople would go with the one that says women will ask for help if they need it.

  6. Salespeople. Bleh. The culture over here is less outwardly chauvinistic, I suppose, or at least folks are less likely to run their mouths and think silent thoughts so that they can earn your $$$, so I can’t say I’ve run into openly sexist salespeople.

    I’ve run into -patronizing- salespeople, where they assume from looks that you’re a) too young to own a wallet or make a serious purchase, b) too broke from the clothes you’re wearing to make said serious purchase, and/or c) not sufficiently tech conversant/geeky due to either gender or youthful looks.

    I tend to cut right past the problem entirely by assuming that they are all paid-by-the-hour temporary staff that have probably never used the products they are selling and doing my research online.

    In the shop, it’s “Hi, I’m looking for (super-detailed specifications with brand, make and model number… Do you have it?” and looking ready to plonk down a credit card if they do.

    Then the secondary defense to someone who won’t shut up is to either a) out-tech or out-geekify them with said prior research – “Yeah, I’m specifically getting the i5 4690 because there’s quite a few reports online that the newest i7 4790s have overheating issues. I don’t need the K version because I’m not planning to overclock this box, just want something stable and reliable for now, maybe in the future I’ll… yadda yadda.”

    It’s almost amusing how quickly they’ll go “uhh huh, really? Yeah?” and ring up your purchase without another word.

    Or b) offer the “uhh huh, mmmhmm” conversation ender response repeatedly to those that take geeking out as an invitation to go on and on. That was for the guy who was just so hung up on singing the praises of his newly discovered favorite antiheroic fantasy roleplaying setting, even after I’d paid and was trying to leave without being rude.

    Your sexist guy was a total idiot though. I would have said something like, “Yeah, I have all the games I want on Steam. For way cheaper than this store. All 842 of them.” and walked off.
    Jeromai recently posted..Blaugust Day 15: Video Game Crushes

    • It was an odd situation. On the one hand I probably know a hell of a lot more about games than him. I could have listed off all the rare retro games I have in my collection (it was a retro shop) but at the same time, I don’t have to prove myself to that jerk.

  7. My most recent exoerience was when I was at Best Buy trading in my 360 for an Xbox One. It was a double whammy of “Wow you’re old” and “that must be for Not You”.

    “Oh are you getting that for your son?”
    “Um, no, it’s for me. I only buy games for me.”

    I’m not sure I could have avoided a confrontation with your store clerk. Ugh, just ugh.
    Hestiah recently posted..The Problem with Unicorns – #Blaugust Day 11

  8. Any chance you could bring it up with a manager or the company? This is one of the absolutely worst examples of customer “service” I have ever read, and seems equally on par with being a outwardly racist asshole.
    Murf recently posted..#Blaugust Day 15: No anime is as efficient or as entertaining as Yowapeda.

  9. Wow. I have no idea what I’d say to a sales associate that did that to me. Really don’t know what his problem is.

    Funny thing. When I was in college, I worked as a girl sales associate in a gaming store. Along with my sister. And two other gals. 🙂

    There was no shortage of girl gamers in that store! And the guys would have never talked like that to any of our customers or there’d be a LOT of issues. The guys we worked with treated us girls like fellow gamers. We even had employee gaming nights sometimes.

    I don’t know what depths gaming stores have fallen to. 🙁
    Aywren recently posted..ARK: Everyone Do the Dinosaur

    • I find most GameStops I go to have a lot of female employees. Even this shop I went to usually has a woman working there, so I don’t know what this dude’s problem was.

  10. Nope nope nope, I would’ve gone off on him SO hard! What a rude asshole. It’s not even like female gamers, you know, the “real” kind that these people like to talk about so much, are uncommon. There are loads of us!

    I once walked into a gaming shop and got a really patronising, “Awwh, you look so lost! Can I help you?” It wasn’t just the words, it was the way he said it like I was a child. I just glared at him and asked him something like whether or not The Witcher (which had just been released) ran on a ruleset like D&D or was freeform (I was still obsessed with Neverwinter Nights and wanted more games like it) and he just stared at me open-mouthed. I shook my head and put the game down and walked out. Next time I went back, the dude was suddenly super helpful. Ugh.

    Nah, I totally would have yelled at that guy. I hate people who treat others like that when they don’t even know the person. It’s not even like he just made an assumption, he was really rude as well.
    Kirsty recently posted..Cheating in Video Games (Blaugust #17)

  11. Great story, that was so interesting. Well, I really like girl gamers, makes me hyper on any game with a girl on the team. I’m like “I’ll protect you” and believe me I’m not the only one. Just sharing…
    Justin recently posted..Programming Languages for Game Design

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