My Experience as a Girl on a Gaming Subreddit: The Good, the Bad, and the Impactful
I would just like to clarify that this article is in no way, shape, or form a jab at r/pcmasterrace. The moderators of the subreddit were incredibly supportive of me, listened to my concerns, and did the best they could do quiet down the harassment.
One Summer, after finding out that I didn’t need a rocket science degree to build my own computer, my dad and I made it our mission to create a PC from parts to completion beginning at the start of July until before classes started in mid August. It took a lot of hard effort and stressful nights, but we completed the full computer before July was over-however, the hardest part of the job hadn’t even started.
I posted a photo of me sitting next to my computer setup onto r/pcmasterrace on Reddit, a PC gaming subreddit with over 4 million followers, and the post quickly blew up to reach over 36,000 upvotes. At first glance, seeing how my post had made it to the front page of Reddit itself was exciting news, but when I found out the reason why it had made it that far, that joy dwindled away.
“Look, another pink setup”
“I’ll buy you a GTX 1080 for vagina and tit pics”
The comments were filled with users piling negative, and sometimes sexual, comments one after another. I was so surprised, I didn’t imagine that this post would get past 10 upvotes, and I definitely did not expect to receive hate. Users were finding the smallest things to get mad at me for. I got hate comments about the fact that I had D.va posters, I got called dumb for having my PC turned sideways instead of forward, and most of all, I just kept getting called whoreish for “feeling the need to include myself in the photo”.
These comments, especially the last one, were incredibly mind boggling. How was there anything inherently bad or degrading about wanting to take a photo next to my computer? I was proud of something I had spent so much time working on, dang it! I wanted the world to see what I made and who made it — the same way artists take photos next to their paintings or sports players take selfies with their trophies.
Hate kept flowing in, so much so that the moderators of the subreddit had to lock the post — meaning users couldn’t comment on it. While I know they meant well with this decision, it only led to these users searching for a new way to harass me: Private messaging.
I considered deleting the post, but I felt a need not to. I felt that if I deleted the post, I was giving up. I was telling the female gamers in that subreddit that they have to listen to what male gamers think of them. So, I never deleted the post, and I still haven’t even now. To this day, I still have over 300 unread messages from the one week span in which my post was circulating, and despite having opened literally thousands of messages, it seemed like the hateful comments were inescapable. As most internet hate does to people, this hurt me a lot.
I can’t only talk about the bad parts of posting this photo online, because the point behind this article isn’t to make people feel guilty over this. It’s to note the importance and impact that post had on many girl gamers that I never thought was going to happen when I clicked post. After my post peaked and disgusting comments skyrocketed, there was a surge in other girls posting photos of them next to their gaming setups onto the subreddit in support of me. Teen girls, adult women, even a female student from my University joined in on this! While this trend on the subreddit was getting hate just like my photo did, it also created a new sense of realization and empowerment. Girls on the subreddit who had stayed hidden in fear of getting called the same insults I was getting thrown were finally feeling confident enough to post photos of their setups-no matter how pink or “girly” it was.
Also, the messages and comments I got that weren’t calling me a slut, were actually very kind and appreciative.
“I love those posters in the back, where did you get them?”
“Thank you for posting your setup, I rarely ever see fellow girls on this subreddit!”
“What games do you like? I really love World of Warcraft!”
The interaction that enlightened me most, though, was the message I got from a male user the same day I posted the photo, asking where I got my keyboard. I was weary that he might have been asking just to ridicule me, but after I responded with the brand, he thanked me, and the conversation ended. I forgot about the interaction completely until a month later, when he sent me a message with a video of a pre teen girl unwrapping that same keyboard at a birthday dinner.
“I got my daughter the keyboard for her birthday, she loves it! Thank you.”
That message made it worth the hundreds of hateful, sexist comments I received and took to heart. Once she unraveled enough of the wrapping to see the peek at the box, she immediately started freaking out in excitement. When she finished opening it up, she hugged the keyboard and looked filled with glee.
The girls who posted their setups on the subreddit, the girls who asked what games I liked and friended me on Overwatch, the girls on other social media sites posting my setup in support of my endeavor, and the girl whose birthday she’ll never forget.
None of that would’ve happened without the encouragement created by posts like mine, and so many others out there, to empower women and prove how women can be gamers too, without automatically being “sluts”.
The subreddit r/girlgamers is rapidly growing, and it is filled with photos of girls playing their favorite character on Smash, girls showing their new headset, girls cosplaying a new League of Legends hero, and so much more that makes me, and an entire community of female gamers, feel validated. r/girlgamers was incredibly supportive of me during the time that my post was circulating online, and sent me so many messages of love and compassion.
Additionally, female gamers are getting more and more popular on online platforms like Twitch including Pokimane, who has amassed over 5.7 million followers and 10,000 paying subscribers, making her one of the biggest streamers on the site. Gamer girls have teamed up with companies such as Razer, known for their PC and console gaming peripherals, LG, renowned cell phone and technology brand, and even clothing brand Guess, reaffirming the ability for femininity and gaming to coexist.
Women are getting into video games at an increasing rate, and with more and more big name video game companies like Nintendo, Blizzard, and Activision producing games with female protaganists, they show no sign of stopping any time soon.