Today I am going to take a step back from writing my usual strategy guides to speak to you about safety in the Gaming world. Specifically, staying safe as a female gamer in a space that often is predominately male. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of amazing and supportive men out there, and men can be harassed just as easily as women. However, as a female gamer, there are often unique challenges that we face in terms of our safety, both mental and physical.
In this article, you’ll notice I’m writing in the first person, which is something I usually don’t do. However, here I feel it’s appropriate. Back in 2014 when I started in Game of War, there weren’t as many female gamers as there are today. As we move into the ‘20’s female gamers make up a huge portion of the population in Mobile, PC, and Console gaming. While this is amazing, there is still a stigma associated with being a female gamer. Just yesterday I was told, “female gamers usually suck”. So what should we do to protect ourselves and have the very best gaming experience possible?
Let’s begin with where we start; in the game. The pixelated world can be a virtual swamp of sexism and negativity. However, one of the main reasons we play is for our friends (who often become like family), along with the actual gameplay. Here are some tips for playing safely while in-game.
- Alliance shop until you find a safe and supportive Alliance. I have been very lucky. I “grew up” in the women empowering Alliance of Bx$ starting with Game of War, and moving from game to game over the past 6 years. Has it all been sunshine and daisies? No, but the sheer number of female gamers in our halls, along with the support of our male counterparts has made it a safe environment. If players harass or are inappropriate to other members they are kicked. Find an Alliance willing to stand up for you if there’s an issue and not one that will sweep it under the rug or say “you asked for it”.
- Use the block button. It’s there for a reason. There’s absolutely no reason to entertain anyone’s drivel that makes you uncomfortable or harasses you.
- Accept friend requests sparingly. No one is entitled to be your friend. No one is entitled to stay your friend. There is absolutely nothing wrong with deleting a contact of someone that’s bothering you or blocking them. You owe random people in a game absolutely nothing of your time or your mental energy.
- Choose a gender-neutral gaming name. Most people don’t do this (including myself), but a neutral name means that you’re less likely to have some random person add you to PM and strike up inappropriate conversations.
- Report gamers who harass you. This may or may not work depending on the developers of the game, but it never hurts to try.
- Stay out of Region Chat. This is where the trolls live. Rarely does anything good ever come out of Region Chat.
- Never give out your real name. This is a no-brainer…but it happens. Don’t tell anyone your real name!
- Don’t share your gaming logs. Unless you’re willing to lose your account, don’t give out your logs. Now, we all know players share logs. That’s pretty much a given for many people, especially whales that have helpers. However, be super cognizant of who you’re sharing them with. If it’s someone you’ve known for a year, you’re probably safe. If it’s some random dude that joined your Alliance last week and says he can help you with your account; just say no…please.
On Social Media
Most Alliances will have a LINE or Discord room for coordination off-game. In addition, many of us belong to other social media rooms for everything from game chat to sticker wars. Social media is great but steps it up in terms of needing to stay safe.
- Make sure none of your real-world information is in your name or on your visible profile. This seems like a no-brainer, but double-check! I personally didn’t realize that my full name was listed in public a couple of months back (no I’m not saying when or where), and immediately panicked a bit.
- Use something besides a picture of your face for your Avatar. This seriously cuts down on the number of inappropriate pictures and messages you get…believe me.
- Screen incoming friend requests. You are not obligated to be friends with anyone who sends you a message. If you don’t recognize the name, do not respond or ask who they are and how they got your contact information.
- Stop responding and/or block if someone is making you uncomfortable. As I said earlier, people on the internet are not entitled to your time or your attention. If someone is making you uncomfortable stop talking to them. Don’t let them make you feel bad. Don’t listen to them telling you you’re overreacting or misunderstanding them. THEY ARE NOT ENTITLED TO YOU.
- Don’t send inappropriate pictures. But if you do, for the love of God and all that’s holy…do not include your face. Let’s be realistic here, many real-life relationships have started online and through games. I know several couples that have gotten married after meeting in-game. So if you do…just be careful. I also know more people that have gotten divorced due to LINE and Discord being treated like Tinder. Always keep the potential ramifications of your actions in mind before you hit that send button.
- Join or create a safe space. When I first started gaming, my good friend ATLienz created a women-only room as a safe space for female gamers in GOW to discuss strategy and learn. There are multiple types of these rooms today!
- Parents are hyper-aware of what your children are doing. Apps such as LINE can be very dangerous for them in terms of being hunted by predators and online bullies.
- Utilize Law Enforcement if necessary. Thankfully cases like this are few and far between, but stalking issues and threats of violence (with accompanying personal information tracked down) have happened.
- Don’t stay quiet to keep the peace. Please please don’t do this. If you’re being harassed, threatened, or gaslighted by someone, chances are other people are too. Speak up! And if you do speak up and you aren’t taken seriously or told to get over it, move on to another Alliance.
- Be skeptical and put up walls to protect your heart and mind. You’re going to meet hundreds to thousands of people. Most will be good and honest. There will be some that are not. You need to be prepared to find out people aren’t who they say they are (or just ghost you), and may have alternate reasons for wanting to be your friend. Shore up those mental barriers ladies. That way when someone harasses or disappoints you it won’t hurt so badly.
I can hear many of you now saying “Aly, most of this pertains to any gamer, not just women”… and you’re right! However, the reality of the matter is that sexual harassment and gaslighting happen more often to female players than male. Treat the online world as the real world in some ways. Be aware of your surroundings, stay safe, use your voice, and don’t stay quiet.
For an article on overall gaming safety and protecting your account, take a read through Gaming Safety
To learn more about creating an effective Alliance, check out Alliance Life.