I’ve never been a fan of multiplayer online gaming. The idea of entering into player-versus-player (pvp) combat against people who invest a vast chunk of time in the competitive gaming arena doesn’t usually tickle my fancy. Every gamer knows about the bullying, tea-bagging, and trash talk that goes on in such venues. As one friend put it, “It’s like they drink a tall glass of brain damage, hate, and unicorn fetus right before they log on.” I play video games to relax, to disconnect from the daily grind for a while, and to virtually immerse myself into well-crafted stories framed by the most expressive media of our time–not to be harassed by XBL denizens who have supped upon unicorn fetus. I can’t proclaim to understand exactly why other people game, but can assume it’s for similar reasons. Or not?

When it comes to real life interaction with male gamers, respectful guys in my circle of friends are willing, and often prefer, to game with the ladies–as if they really had a choice. Most women in my immediate friend circle are fellow gamers and some of them, like the ever-awesome J.R. Blackwell, publish imaginative, original games. One of the most engaging tabletop games I’ve ever experienced was an all-Girl Game where gender-bending and romance intertwine within a sci-fi/historical horror setting full of skin-wearing alien vampire lesbians! A woman portrayed a woman pretending to be man pretending not to be a vampire, women role-played men, and women played women. Our fantastic storyteller, Ms. Blackwell, introduced the idea of “lines and veils”, a social contract between gamers and gamemaster where specific player triggers are completely left out of the story or occur non-descriptively behind a veil. The topic had not been broached in any previous games I had experienced, but it was clearly a brilliant idea. Our game, now called “Girl Game”, had characters in hetero and gay relationships without any awkwardness or misinterpreted affection that may come from role-playing sexual situations with men. I felt free to truly stretch the creative capabilities of character due to the non-judgementmental environment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy role-playing with men, it’s that with Girl Game there was never any instance of someone trying to tell you what to do with your character or making backhanded comments about a character’s decision in the name of being helpful.

I love interacting with gamers in person. From PaxEast to Dreamation, game conventions continue to be awesome and enlightening, although the Penny Arcade debacle makes me cringe. Luckily my personal experiences remain untainted by what Filamena describes over at Gaming as Women. Molestation at cons seems to be more of a problem than I thought after talking with friends about their own incidents. Despite my introverted nature, I find all humans easier to communicate with in person than online (or the phone, but that’s another story) due to the asshat-compulsion of anonymity, hence my preference for in-person social games.

But then, crap like this is brought to my attention. Anyway.

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