Sexism in Gaming Communities: As Rampant as Ever

So I’m playing a P & P RPG, and one of my chars is a young acolyte of low social standing (because she grew up as orphan, raised by a hunter and priest of the god of hunting). Now circumstances placed her in a barony somewhere far from home, where she had saved the young baron’s life with her group, and tended to the temple and shrine in the absence of a priest. The baron (an NPC) finally proposed to her and neither me nor my GM were sure whether the next-higher noble had the right to intervene (my char doesn’t get along with her), and whether my char would be expected to swear allegiance to her after marriage. So I did what every gamer might do: I asked the online community.

It didn’t even take 24 hours for the thread to take a nasty turn. After a few posts, the initial questions were answered, and we had already got some additional food for thought (and questions about the circumstances and char in return). As soon as I mentioned her low social status, though, I had to read posts like “Such a begging slut might be fucked by the nobleman, maybe, but…” and “She can count herself lucky if she receives a silver coin after the night”, and talk about her “bastard children”.

Nowhere, and I mean NOWHERE in my posts did I so much as hint at the fact that she might consider sex before marriage. In fact, her goddess is one of the more moral ones, and my char would never consider having sex with someone she is not properly married to. She never begged, either.

But somehow, in those people’s minds, the facts “female” plus “low social status” plus “wants to marry a baron” added up to the “fact” that her morals must be on the lose side. Sure, because female characters are all only trying to score money and influence by sleeping around, right? Bullshit!

I don’t know whether these posts were from male or female gamers, and honestly, it doesn’t make any difference at all. The fact that someone considered these comments appropriate enough to make them shows that sexist stereotypes are still a long way from dying out, and that sexism is still prevalent in gaming communities.

How reading those comments made me, the player, feel? Kind of personally attacked, actually. Judged. And yes, I know that they were about my char and not about me. I still didn’t sign up for having my char insulted and degraded by nasty, sexist comments, when I asked a few questions about background.

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The Lone Hero

„They said, ‚The hero’s just across that mountain ridge.‘ Now I’m here, and no one in sight,” Poppy muttered under her breath. White fog formed in front of her face every time she exhaled, and she rubbed her hands together to keep them from freezing. Her hammer lay in the snow to her feet.

In the west, the sun was slowly setting over the mountains, sending an orange hue across the scenery. When Poppy looked around, she couldn’t help but feel a sense of serenity wash over her. I may not have found the hero here, but this certainly is beautiful. She took a deep breath of fresh, crisp air, and then picked up her hammer again. “Time to get moving if I don’t want to be caught up here all night.”

As she plunged her way through hip-deep snow, she kept her eyes open for a cave or any sign of a home of sorts. The moon rose and illuminated the snow-covered peaks just enough to keep going, but still there was no place to rest in sight. Her legs started to hurt from the cold, and still she moved on, eyes fixed on the ground to prevent slipping.

###

Braum was feeling restless that night. His poro lay by the fire, contently snoring, but he somehow couldn’t sleep. Something was in the air, and he couldn’t figure out what it was. At last, he pushed himself up and left the house. The snow was crunchy under his shoes and the full moon cast an eerie light over the mountains. He scanned the area. There! Was that a wolf he was seeing? He rubbed his eyes. No, it was too tall for a wolf. Slowly, he approached the figure. When he had almost reached it, the silhouette suddenly slumped down and disappeared in the snow. Braum ran towards the spot and knelt down, his hands carefully lifting up—a yordle? And a huge hammer?

###

Poppy woke up to the sounds of a crackling fire. She felt warm, too warm, and her head was throbbing.

“Ugh…where am I?”

She slowly opened her eyes and cast a look around. It looked like a simple log cabin with a jolly fire burning in the hearth. Then she turned her head, and jumped.

“What–!”

Steps came closer, and a booming voice said, “Oh good, you’re awake! Good morning, young yordle. How are you?”

Poppy blinked a few times and then just stared, mouth agape, at the huge man in front of her. He wore a big smile on his face, half covered by a huge moustache. The creature that had scared her that much jumped towards him and rubbed its head against his leg.

“I…my head hurts. Where am I? Who are you?”

“I am Braum, and you are on my farm in the mountains. I found you outside in the snow last night. Oh, and this is my poro. Don’t worry, it’s not dangerous, but it loves to cuddle.”

“I…saw light, and tried to get there, but it was so cold…and my legs hurt. Thanks for saving me, Braum. I’m Poppy.” She looked around and frowned. “Um…where’s my hammer?”

“That huge thing? Oh, don’t worry, it’s over there at the wall.” He watched her with a curious look in his eyes. “Say, Poppy, can you really wield that hammer? Isn’t it a bit…big for you?”

She laughed. “Oh, I’m just the Keeper of the Hammer. I only keep it until I find the true hero it belongs to. You don’t know of a hero around here somewhere, do you?”

###

Braum’s heart leapt at the sound of her laugh. This young yordle was delightful.

“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t know of any hero around here. It’s just me and my poro, and the villagers down below. Simple mountain folks, so to speak. But you must be starving. Let me cook you breakfast and tea while you just lay back down and rest.”

He turned to the fire and started tea water, then turned to the stove to fry some eggs. For some reason, this morning, he felt like whistling while cooking, and the sun seemed just a tad warmer and brighter than usual.

###

Poppy laid back and watched Braum while he prepared breakfast for her. Even though he was a giant of a man, he possessed some gentle, caring quality that appealed to her, probably more than she cared to admit. When was the last time someone cooked me breakfast? She felt her heart ache with longing. Longing of a home, of somewhere to belong, of someone to be with. I can’t…I have to find the hero first. It’s my duty. With a sigh, she closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.

###

When breakfast was ready, he brought it up to her makeshift bed. The sight of her peaceful face, and of his poro cuddled up in the crook of her arm, made him smile. He put the plate and mug down and gently shook her awake.

“Poppy? Breakfast is ready.”

She yawned and stretched, and when she sat up and saw the plate, she gave him a wide smile that made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The poro stayed on her lap while she ate, and afterwards they sat together and talked for hours. The more he learnt about her, the more he dreaded the moment she would leave, and the more he hoped that she would just stay for a while longer.

###

When the sun set that afternoon, Poppy grew sad. She knew she should be on her way to find the hero instead of sitting here talking to Braum, but part of her didn’t want to leave. Not yet. Not before she had the chance to get to know Braum better. Finally, when the sun was gone, she gathered all her courage and began, “Maybe I could…”, just as Braum started, “Maybe you could…”

They stared at each other for a moment and then burst out laughing.

“You first,” Braum eventually said.

###

“Maybe I could…I mean, I have been thinking…with all the snow, and me being so small…maybe I could stay here till spring?”

Braum’s heart leapt with joy at that question, and he responded, “Well, of course, that’s a great idea! Poro and I have plenty of room for you, and we would enjoy the company.”

While he sat there with a big smile plastered on his face, watching her eyes light up, he secretly wondered when he should tell her that the snow never melted this high up in the Freljord Mountains…

Story of Vi’s Death (LoL fanfic)

It was a day like every other: drab, rainy, and boring. And it had started with an argument with Officer Caitlyn–again.
Vi was standing on top of a high building overlooking the city of Piltover, angry and with the intense need to punch something–or someone, when it happened. A scream somewhere in the streets that abruptly stopped. Vi focused on the streets, and when her eye caught a movement, she jumped. She knew the best route down, jumping from roof to roof until she hit the dirty street from where the scream had come. No sign of violence. No body. No blood. Confused, she looked around. Then, from the corner of her eyes, she spotted a figure moving away. The hunt was on.

Caitlyn looked out of the window. From her office, she had a nice view over part of Piltover. All she could see now was the heavy curtain of rain, though. She sighed and turned back to her paperwork. Vi…what am I supposed to do with you? She shook her head to clear the thoughts of today’s argument from it, got up, and fetched herself another cup of coffee. It was true that Vi brought in more criminals than any other member of the Piltover Police Force, but her measures were questionable more often than not.
While she was standing in the kitchen waiting for her coffee to brew, her boss peeked in. “Caitlyn, what are you doing here? I thought you were on patrol with Officer Vi?”
“We blew it again this morning and she just stormed off, so instead of wasting my time trying to find her, I decided to write those reports you’re still waiting for.”
Her boss watched her as she poured the coffee. She offered him a cup too, and when he accepted it, he said, “Cait, I know Vi isn’t always easy to deal with, but look, you two are partners. You should really put your differences behind and start acting like partners. Finish your coffee, and then go out and find her. The reports can wait, but I can’t have two of my best officers either collide or avoid each other.”
With that, he turned around and left Caitlyn to her thoughts again.

Vi was chasing someone through the streets of Piltover. She wasn’t even sure who it was or what he or she had done; all she knew was that that chase revived her. She was finally able to get rid of her frustration and anger that had been boiling inside her the whole day. Stupid Caitlyn…who’s getting her all those arrests? Who’s helping her career move forward? And all she’s doing is complaining about the way I do things…argh!
She rounded another corner and ended in a cul-de-sac. Empty. She frowned and looked around. Carefully, she moved forward, one step at a time. Her senses were on alert. Something felt wrong…

Caitlyn took her time sipping her coffee. She didn’t really want to leave the office on a day like this, especially since she knew it was futile trying to find Vi if she didn’t want to be found. Eventually, she pushed herself up, took her hat, and left the building. It had been an order, so there was no getting around it anyway. The sooner she found Vi, the sooner she would be able to return to the dry comfort of her office to finish that report.
As she walked through the streets, memories of her patrols with Vi flashed back to her. Vi complaining about the rain causing problems with her gauntlets, and how she had helped her fix them again. That was when she had seen Vi smile for the first time. Another memory of how Vi had saved a little girl from being smashed by a heavy flower pot, and how they had later rambled about how people found it sensible to keep something like that on the window sill. “They should define flower pots as weapons”, Vi had joked. The memory made Caitlyn chuckle even now.
With a sudden sense of urgency, she quickened her steps. She wanted to find Vi, to apologize for earlier.

When Vi had made her way about halfway into the drury cul-de-sac, she heard movement behind her. “Caitlyn?” No answer. Shit, I should have taken her with me…she always has my back. Slowly, Vi turned around, ready to charge whoever was behind her. But the street was empty. Someone is playing with me…
“Jinx? Come out, I know it’s you!”, she yelled while turning a full circle scanning the area.
No response. Vi waited for a while longer, but when nothing else happened, she turned her back to the cul-de-sac and started moving to its entrance. That’s when she heard the clicking sound of a pistol being readied–right behind her.

The shot echoed through the streets in downtown Piltover. Caitlyn froze, and then ran. She ran as if her own life were at stake, and maybe it was… Terrible images of her partner dead in some alley formed in her mind, only to be confirmed when she rounded yet another corner. There she was, slumped down against a wall, her gauntlets lying next to limp arms, eyes shut.
“Noooooooo!”
Caitlyn was on her knees, hugging her dead partner to her chest, before she realised. Tears streamed down her face, mixing with the rain, but she didn’t care. This was her fault. Had she not argued with Vi earlier, Vi wouldn’t have left the police station alone, and then she wouldn’t have been shot like this…
“I’m so sorry, Vi… I should have been here with you… This is all my fault…”, she sobbed.

Somewhere in the distance, a figure in the shadows cleaned a pistol and grinned.

An Open Letter to Laners (LoL)

Dear laners,

Yes, I hear your pings and yes, I see your chat messages. I also see you pushing up to enemy tower while you ask (really, demand) me for assistance. Do you know what else I see? A ganking opportunity on another lane that is not pushed. An opening to do drake while both enemy botlaners had to go base or were killed. So no, I won’t come to your lane right now.

Yes, I hear your pings and yes, I see your chat messages. I also saw you die to your enemy laner three times before you even hit level 4. I see your laner is 3 levels above me. No, I won’t gank your lane now. I don’t want to die, thus feeding your laner even more. I’d rather do something useful. Play safe. You lost your lane, now don’t blame me for it.

Yes, I hear your pings and yes, I see your chat messages. Yes, I see that the enemy jungler is camping your lane. I also know that, at the moment, I would probably die if I tried to countergank your lane. So I’ll tell you to play safe while I try to catch up or help our other lanes (there’s no fear of being counterganked on another lane, after all, if the enemy jungler stays busy on your lane).

Yes, I hear your pings, and yes, I see your chat messages. And no, I won’t offer you blue buff if you started flaming me after getting yourself killed at level 2 when I wasn’t even anywhere near your lane. Play safer, stop flaming, and we can talk about the next blue buff. I don’t need the enemy team with two blue buffs if I can also make use of it.

Yes, I hear your pings and yes, I see your chat messages. But did you see the enemy jungler ganking me in my own jungle and killing me while you stayed on lane farming? I pinged for help too. Now I’m behind and need to farm up again (or gank a strong lane to get kills and assists). I can’t gank your struggling lane right now.

Yes, I hear your pings and yes, I see your chat messages. But I can’t split myself in three to help out all lanes at the same time, so I need to make a choice. Which means two of you won’t get a gank right now. Flaming me for not coming won’t make it any likelier that you’ll be the next lane I’ll try to help.

Yours faithfully,

Your Jungler

P.S.: While I focused on the negative examples in this open letter, I also wanted to say GJ to all those great laners out there who really work together with their jungler to the team’s mutual benefit. You’re great!

League of Legends Cosplays

So shortly after I started playing League of Legends, I also started cosplaying. By now, I’ve cosplayed three different LoL champions: Secret Agend Xin Zhao, a female version of Twisted Fate (for the EU LCS Finals viewing party), and my own creation of Sinful Succulence Vi. The cosplays may not be perfect, but from what I’ve been told, the champions are recognisable, and that’s praise enough ^^ Plus, it has been great fun every time 🙂

The cats in the third photo are ours, and yes, they were trying to get into the donuts… 😉

I haven’t yet decided who I’ll cosplay next, but I still have two more wigs: a long purple one, and a long black one. Now if only I were more apt with crafting…

League of Legends: A Player Typology 2

My first typology kind of focused on player types that are or can be rather frustrating to play with, so today I want to focus on player types that are actually nice to play with.

The Casual ADC

This is usually someone who’s either unfamiliar with the role, or not that good at it. Maybe he’s practising, maybe he had to pick it because it was the only role left. Anyway, the most striking difference to the MAIN ADC from my last post is that the casual ADC usually appreciates his support and may even write things like “gj” or *gasp* “thanks” in chat. Even if they’re not always good with farming during the laning phase, they can still become valuable assets in team fights if they’re paired with a good support and survive bot lane more or less.

The Main Support

Granted, this species of players is kind of rare. If you happen to get one of these in your game, though, rejoice. They know the warding game and will maintain vision while simultaneously clearing enemy vision. Often, they can save their ADC even if the ADC made a mistake or the enemy made a good play (with or without the enemy jungler), and the main support will happily die for his ADC if that means the ADC gets out alive. They know their champ and know how and when to engage and set up plays for their team, and it’s very rare that they tilt and start flaming. Show them some love and appreciation and it will make their day, since they’re used to being flamed at (for dying, for example, even though it was to save their team mates) or taken for granted.

The Attentive Midlaner

Nothing endears you more to your jungler than to react quickly and without getting pinged at first if your jungler is ganked in his own jungle. The attentive midlaner, thus, is every jungler’s best friend, and can usually count on getting blue buffs in return. If he sees an opening for a gank, he pings and/or writes in chat, and then continues farming until the jungler shows up. He will also warn the jungler of wards, and he pings warnings if the enemy midlaner starts roaming. If he can, he will follow his midlaner. Whenever the attentive midlaner is ahead and sees an opportunity, he will help out top or botlane to help getting them ahead as well.

The Teamplay Jungler

Teamplay junglers are often jungle mains with a great map awareness. They keep their eyes open for ganking opportunities, track buff and drake timers, help with warding and ward clearing, and ping warnings for their laners if they spot the enemy jungler on his way to a lane. In most cases, they will give their blue buffs (except the first one, which they need for experience and clearing help) to their mage midlaner. They will try to set up plays just like the main support, and if they’re playing a tank, they will often sacrifice their life to get their team out alive. Teamplay junglers’s KDA ratio often shows a high number of assists and low kills because they will give away kills to their laners whenever possible and necessary to get the laners ahead.

The TP Saviour

This toplaner has teleport, and he will use it. Usually to gank botlane or to quickly travel to any place on the map to defend towers or help team mates. The enemy team has to take extra care to clear unwelcome wards because the toplaner will probably take advantage of them sooner or later. If a team mate is in trouble, all he has to do is to ping for help and put a ward down (if there’s no TP-able ward nearby). The TP saviour might fall behind in farm due to TP roaming, but he will usually make up for the lack of farm by kills and assists, and by helping his team mates snowball. Sometimes, though, this toplaner may over-estimate his tankiness or damage output and overstay his welcome. If there is an opportunity for it later in the game, this laner will try to backdoor while the enemy team is engaged elsewhere.

League of Legends: A Player Typology

So I started playing League of Legends, an online MOBA, in March last year. I was on break from university, had plenty of time, and managed to level up to level 30 fairly quickly thanks to lots of well-meant and mostly useful advice from old and new friends. I went ranked soon after reaching level 30 and managed to be placed in Silver V much to my own surprise, because granted, I wasn’t playing that well yet. Long story short, I continued playing a lot (mostly normals though, and team ranked with some friends), improving, learning new champions, got coaching from a Platinum main jungler for a while, and found my main roles (jungler and support). I’ve improved in farming though I still have a kind of weak early-game with most champs, but I can come back, and I play some champions that can snowball rather impressively.

Since I started playing, I’ve met a whole bunch of different player types; some fun to play with, others not so much. Take this typology with a grain of salt (or two), refrain from reporting me, and let me know in the comments if I missed some types (I definitely do since I only chose one per role, and yes, I’ve met all of them ingame, and even been one of them every now and then…*hint: the last two*).

The Main ADC–and I Mean MAIN ADC

Plays overly aggressive and blames the support when he dies–not noticing nor acknowledging the countless times the support saved his ass before. If the support dares to kill a minion, he flames–even when the support has relic shield. Whenever the support dies (usually to save the ADC’s life after an overly aggressive play), he writes something like “noob” or “stop feeding” in chat. However, if he gets a kill (or, lo and behold, a double kill), he lets his and the enemy team know how great he is and they should tremble before him because he’s a “diamond smurf” and has “da skillz”.

The Forced Support

Usually got forced into the role because he wasn’t fast enough in game lobby or was last-pick. Depending on his favoured role, he will either play a mid champ, typical top champ, jungler, or a second ADC. Some of the champs would be viable and well-working supports if he actually played the support role, but since he didn’t want to play the support, he won’t build or play like a support. Sure, he might not farm in lane early-game, but items like a sightstone are usually below his dignity since warding is for pussies. If his team asks him to provide vision (as it is usually mainly the support’s job), he will flame them. He will proceed to build his champ the same way as he would if he had got his favoured role and will do his best getting as many kills as possible. If, in the end, he ends up with a better kill score than his ADC, he will mock him with “adc support”, “noob adc, support more kills” or something like that.

The Midlane God

The Rift is his, as is the blue buff, and the jungler’s only job is to help him get early buffs and to snowball. He usually starts pinging for a gank before the 5-minute-mark, and will start flaming if he hasn’t got a single “gank” (meaning kill with the help of his jungler) within a minute (or less) of asking for assistance. If the jungler decides to take the blue buffs for himself (either because he needs them, or because the midlaner has been non-stop flaming him for the past five minutes), he complains about the jungler “stealing his blue” and asks “report jungler, no help” in all chat. Of course, if he loses his lane, it’s only the jungler’s fault for not ganking (enough). Will threaten with going afk after getting killed for the first time because “noob team, no help, game lost”. Alternatively, he will ask to surrender at minute twenty because “gj team, game lost, noobs”.

The AFK-Farming Jungler

The wildcard in my set. He picks a champ like Master Yi and starts building devourer. Get a good look at him in base when the game starts, because chances are that’s the only time you will see him for the next twenty minutes. If you’re lucky, he will actually get an early drake for your team; if you’re not, he will die trying while helping the enemy midlaner or ADC to start snowballing. He won’t give away any of his buffs even though he’s not actually helping his team with them simply because he wants the stacks for his devourer. If and when he gets his devourer sated, he may proceed farming because the jungle is a nice place, or he may actually explode on the enemy team and play a pivotal role in winning this game. Usually not a flamer as long as you leave him alone and don’t ever ping for assistance.

The Toplane Tank

Tanks need some time and items to become tanky. Of course, your toplaner knows that; the enemy toplaner knows that, too. So they will silently agree to ignore each other and farm up until they feel confident enough to engage the other laner. What they usually forget is the fact that by then, the enemy toplaner will also be tanky so their trade turns out about even. Tanks don’t do much damage while being able to take a lot. After a few pointless trades, they will continue to farm next to each other. Since they’re so far away from drake or from any of the action starting in the bottom half of the map, they will often continue farming in lane well beyond the twenty-minute-mark. No one really knows what to expect of them when they finally decide to enter team fights, not even themselves. You’re lucky if you have the fed Nasus in your team, but chances are that the enemy toplaner actually snowballs a lot more with farm than your own team’s toplaner.