Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Gamer behind the Ego

I've mentioned before that I had a really positive experience at PAX East 2011.  I came away fulfilled, and happy, and feeling like collectively, we (gamer culture) are on the right path.  I made some friends.

But what stands out for me in retrospect was that PAX was a girls' weekend for me.  Aside from a few folks I gamed with, and one journalist I met (who's the husband of a friend I made), I was almost entirely in the company of women.  I went to gender-themed panels, I sought out the company of the minority, and I was generally surrounded by affirming, positive examples of what gamer culture can be.

My little box here, and places like the Border House and TNC's joint, are safe spaces.

The world is not a safe space.

I thought I was past being intimidated solely on the basis of my gender.  When I open my mouth about gaming, I'm generally certain I know what I'm talking about, or at least I feel like I can participate in the conversation.  And if I don't, I keep my mouth shut.  Simple.  And in person, I feel like I'm on it.

But on the advice of many, I finally signed up at Bitmob this morning.  I think the site is a worthwhile endeavor, but I'm always nervous dipping my toe into any unknown waters.  And this morning I read some articles and thought about commenting... and on post after post, every name in the comments was clearly and obviously male.

I hide behind my initials because even in the non-anonymous age of the internet (having left my pseudonym behind me on a few sites I don't use much anymore), that "K" affords me shelter.

I'll pull myself together and get over it, soon enough.  All journeys beginning with a single step, and so on.  But it's hard being aware of that other level of judgement.

I miss the truly anonymous age of the Internet, when none of us had photos attached to our profiles or used our real names.  I think it afforded a lot of people who might be marginalized in some way in their 3D lives the space to avoid judgement except for their words and deeds, which is the way we should all get to live.

Meanwhile, I'm KCoxDC there, too, just like everywhere else.  Because that's who I am now, and that's the face for the world to see.


  1. At least you use your initials ... I hide behind my dog's name and my other dog's face! :) I don't know if I'll ever be brave enough to be fully "out" as a youngish woman on the big bad internet...

  2. Honestly, the only reason I did it was because of this blog. I wanted to be able to use it as a future portfolio in time, either for academic or employment reasons, and for that to happen it needed to be under my real name -- and not associated with the alias I used for everything, anonymously, from 1995 - now (still, on some sites)...

    Eventually I'll probably change the Disqus name too, as I moderate this blog under it, but for now I'm lazy and a known quantity. ;)

  3. I know! On one hand, no one owes me their attention, so I am always flattered when someone shows an interest in me online. Then again, I hate that people profile others on the internet, because we have done so much reasearch in that area and the bias is undisputable. I'm not a video gamer but gaming is universal, it requires hand/eye coordination not y- chromosomes. I also hate all that trash talking that goes on, I think that more than competition would turn me off.

  4. Actually, modern gaming doesn't necessarily need the hand / eye coordination -- it really depends on the genre you're in. There's some stuff I just really can't do with a controller, but not all games call for that. The ones that do try my patience, hehe.

    The trash-talking does turn me off, though -- and it's definitely part of why I've never gone the competitive multiplayer route. I just don't have the patience for that bullshit. If we're competing in skill or in luck, fine. If you're going to be an asshole about it, I'm out. And since a huge percentage are always determined to be assholes about it, I just never go in...

  5. Well, it is true that there are no connections whatsoever visible online between my pseudonymous self and the blogging, Tweeting, Disqus-using self.

    But the blogging self is the one that hopes someday to get paid for some pieces of writing, so the name has to go with. ;) I still have that Bruce Wayne identity out there, so to speak, but it's become a much, much smaller piece of my persona.