As a female “gamer”, I find it interesting how people respond when I put on my headset and show up to play “Call of Duty 4” on my X-Box Live account. While there are some ladies present, usually the room is laden with testosterone. The players vary in age from men in their mid-thirties, down to the prepubescents whose voices crack under the pressure of gunfire. Likewise, the reactions I receive from them vary depending upon the maturity of the gamers.
Upon entering a room, I usually remain quiet at first, letting my female named gamer tag speak for itself. After a few seconds, if there is an immature teenager in the room I hear some sort of “Yo, Mama” joke or they ask the really obvious, “Hey, Mrs_____ , are you really a girl?” At this point I usually laugh, and say, “Of course!” At this point, the kids usually become quiet or start bragging. The young 20-somethings try to impress me with their kill ratio or try to hit on me, and the 30’s guys usually limit their vulgarities in my presence and show respect.
I find it interesting that even though the game is played in a virtual world, that stereotypes persist. Until I prove that I truly am a good shot, my opponents believe that they will have an easy victory because I am a woman. Sometimes I do not earn an opponent’s (or even a teammate’s) respect until I have more kills than they do on a particular round, or if I call in a helicopter. They assume that because I’m a female, and married to boot, that there is no way I would be proficient at something like “Call of Duty 4.” Little do they know, I am part of a clan of incredible skill, and together we dominate quite frequently.
As a teacher, my high school students are amazed that I play “Call of Duty 4.” They ask me questions like, “Do you curse when you’re on-line?”, or “Are you able to shoot anything?” When I tell them I have prestiged four times, they simply don’t believe me. Better yet, some of my students do not even know what “prestiging” requires! (For those who don’t know, prestiging basically means leveling up through all the ranks and starting again.)
While I do not claim to be an expert by any means, I do have fun playing “Call of Duty 4” on-line with my gentlemen friends. Over time, my on-line friends return to their old, cursing selves and include me as simply “one of the guys.” I don’t curse back, because my motto is “Play with Class” — quite the pun when high school students realize a female math teacher beat them at “Call of Duty 4!”