Mic, Muted

An Ode to Gaming as a Female


I’m sending this support ticket because I’ve been having the same problem for a very long time. I hoped for a while that I could fix it on my own, but as of late I’ve recognized that it’s not exactly a one-woman job. I would really appreciate it if you could all look into it and in doing so, maybe even get things to how they should’ve been in the first place. The main issue that I’ve found is a fault in my microphone, you see.

It doesn’t seem to be working properly.

And while this might seem like a rather extended version of what could’ve been a shorter story, believe me when I say that what I write in this ticket has already been quite condensed. I excluded some key points just to try and make sure I didn’t go over the word limit — speaking of which, I’m not quite sure why you guys have this great of a word allowance for a basic support ticket — and didn’t even get to mention what happened when I talked to other victims of this bug, all of which also happened to be women.

You know, come to think of it, some of the other girls didn’t even experience the same lucky break that I did when my mic broke, and some of their microphones also didn’t work for a while. If I hadn’t written this support ticket, I wouldn’t have realized that maybe it’s not my microphone after all, or even the game...

Maybe it’s some of those around me that are to be blamed.

To give some background: when I first started gaming, logging into my game account and hitting the ‘play’ button meant an opportunity to prove myself in a world different from my own, purely through a showcase of my own knowledge of the game and my playstyle and mechanics. Solo queue gave me the chance to meet other new players, have a good time with a game or two (or maybe a few), and joke around and trade memes afterwards with these newfound friends I’d made before parting ways, promising to play another round sometime soon.

However, the ever-present opportunity for something new started to sway. Or maybe it had always been that way, and I had just never taken notice. For me, though, things began to change.

Gone were the days when I looked at a stranger’s in-game name and wondered how my playstyle would match with theirs; now it was all about whether my own in-game name might beckon the flame. Comments like "should’ve gotten your boyfriend to play" and "just do us all a favor and uninstall the game" rolled in. Whether I was the one who made a mistake or even the winning save, most of the toxicity was always in the same vein. So I decided to play exclusively with my good friends.

And then even with these people with whom I had once felt safe with, the same things continued to change.

When toxicity initially reared its ugly head, I thought that it was because I wasn’t as good as the rest — I mean, who doesn’t get a little tilted or upset when their teammate isn’t exactly the best? But the toxic comments weren’t just limited to my in-game actions anymore, be it with strangers or even friends of friends. Do you have a boyfriend? If you don’t, why won’t you answer back?

And when I did talk back, I would get completely and absolutely shut down.  And if this happened around my friends, they would get quieter and quieter with every attack. Messages in my inbox started to lack tact, had little thought put into them and showed hardly any respect for me as another human. Attention whore. Slut. Braindead bitch.

These things would happen whenever I opened my mouth to make even the smallest remarks, and to so little of my other friends that it made me begin to wonder exactly why all of this was happening specifically to me and to hardly anyone else.

All it took was one day to make the change go away.

My mic broke. There was an immediate difference between the before and after of when I no longer spoke; where there were no longer any flames, there was no longer any smoke. Randoms would work together with me more, and friends of friends I hadn’t met before would listen to what I typed and actually take note. I got more recognition. Good game. Nice work! Great play, are you on a smurf?

My experience had been entirely refreshed, and it was all thanks to the mishandling of my main form of communication. So even when I acquired a new headset, I kept my mic muted.

And the change has stayed away ever since.

So while it looks as though I’ve found the solution to my own problem by keeping my microphone off, I did pay to own it and use it just like everyone else. And it’s not very fair to me or the other girls who have experienced this issue with how long this has gone unaddressed, with the amount of stress it’s put us through. It wouldn’t be just me thanking you when this is finally fixed, but the rest of the girls as well. It would mean we would all get to just play the game – take the weight off our shoulders and keep our heads in the game.

And our mics, unmuted.

Glossary of Terms:

Playstyle: A style of play unique to a specific player, characterized by plays and in-game choices that are difficult to execute or are a brainchild of the player.

Solo queue: When a player queues up alone or “solo” to play games.

Flame: Comments or insults defined by their harshness, usually directed towards an individual.

Tilt: Anger or irritation when gaming that affects your level of play in an increasingly negative manner.

Randoms: Other players typically assigned to you as teammates through a random-matching system found in most games.

Smurf: Short for ‘smurf account’, which is a side account typically ranked lower than a player’s main account that high-ranking players typically use to play in ranks lower than their main rank.

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