The blog entry I found today is several months old now, and talks about a female’s experience in DayZ where two male players assaulted and roleplayed raping her character.
There are a few issues to consider here, as there always has been when thinking on even a slightly deeper level about being a female who also happens to play video games. While I could go into many of them at great length, that’s not what I want to look at tonight.
I’m going to stay pretty neutral on the blog entry in question and its author, because that’s not what this entry is about.
However, reading a related blog entry had me hung up on this particular quote:
“a player having to endure two other players verbally pretending to rape her character”
I take issue with this. Okay, the male players in question were arguably jerks. I am not, for a second, trying to say what they did was a good or nice move. I’m not arguing in favour of what they did.
However. At no point can someone truly force you to do something in a game like DayZ. Unlike a real life rape situation, you are not physically held against your will. You are not pinned or restrained. Yes, your in-game character can be handcuffed. Yes, they can command you to do things and shoot your character if you disobey.
The difference is, though, you can disobey. You can take some control of the situation back. Had I been in her situation, I would have stood up and left my computer, pulled my headphones off, or Alt-F4ed. In the game – unlike real life – I still had some control, even if I had two guys giving me orders.
I don’t want to turn this into a feminist ramble about the difficulties of female gaming. I avoid 99% of people I encounter in any video game ever even guessing at my gender, but that’s a personal choice borne from wanting to avoid getting any attention simply due to my gender. I like to game in peace, without flirtatious whispers from people I will possibly never speak to again.
But when I do happen to reveal my gender, I think it’s important to keep hold of some control in the situation if things go downhill. For the person whose character was roleplay-raped, I would have loved to see her come out of that at the end with a sense of “Screw you guys, I took back some control”, and not only “I’m upset”.
Be upset, but recognise you maintained (or could have maintained) some control in the situation. Recognise it’s a game, and internet anonymity has always spurred jerks. In particular, recognise it’s a fairly highly strung survival game that’s meant to be tough and sees people betraying new friends, lying, baiting and just all around being jerks.
Again – I’m not saying the roleplay rape was a pleasant, necessary or non-asshole thing to do – but as with most games, you do not have to endure anything. The log off button is always there, whether someone is griefing you in WoW or taking it to new, darker extremes. If an in-game situation is truly upsetting you, abort game. Take a break. Tell them to f*ck off first, if you want – as would be well and truly justified in the rape case – but just remember you always have some element of control.