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Elsa avatar 12:10 PM on 06.28.2009  (server time)
A Girl's Guide to Online FPS Gaming.

After playing Killzone and Warhawk a fair bit so far this weekend... this survival guide came to mind...

To the ladies out there thinking of trying FPS games online for the first time..., first of all, it's important to realize that you are entering what is the virtual equivalent of a sports bar - a place heavy in male testosterone, competitiveness, swearing and a "mine is bigger than yours" attitude. The anonymity of the internet seems to be the rough equivalent to a six pack of beer, so you'll also have to be prepared for the "dumb things guys say when they're drunk" type of verbal warfare. It's important to remember that you can't win this type of war because everything they say is witty and hilarious them.

A dozen things to know (in no particular order):

1) Bitch.
When I heard this word, I assumed they were referring to me as I was often the only female in the game... but no, this word is not (necessarily) referring to females. Apparently guys call each other this, and it's sign of love and respect.

2) Teabagging.
Don't take this lying down. Feel free to make make "ken doll" comments, or ask for a magnifying glass, or ask if it's cold, or if their balls have dropped yet, or if they're married to Lorena Bobbitt, etc, etc. Other guys in your squad will likely snicker, though the object of your taunts may target you. Again, remember that guys do this to other guys too... they're not doing it just because you're a girl (same goes for corpse humping if you're in a game where the avatar can go prone).

3) Pick-ups.
Again, this is nothing personal. Remember that these are like drunk guys in a bar. Boy sees girl. Boy says lame line like "are you hot?". Asking a girl if she's hot is apparently the male equivalent of "hi, how're you doing". They will ask this question of gray haired grannies and 13 year old tweens. It's a guy thing. The appropriate response is always "yes I'm hot... now could you go make me a sandwich because I'm busy playing the game here".

4) Mysogynists.
There will often be one of those guys that just hates women. The one that teamkills you while yelling "girls don't game". Just remember that these are almost always young boys with mommy issues. You're not a psychiatrist and can't cure them... so just avoid them and don't give them the attention they seem so desperately to be seeking.

5) Giggling.
I don't care if you're male or female, don't giggle. It's annoying.

6) "Useless females".
Please don't come into a game and start asking the big strong guys how to play. Play the campaign mode, play offline with bots or create a one person game and learn. Guys don't ask how to play (I think it's probably the male equivalent of asking for directions or looking at a map or something). If you need clarification or a tip on how somebody did something, fine... but don't be giggling, and screaming "oh you killed me, you bad, bad boy!". Appropriate responses to getting killed are to say "crap", "lagswitcher", "n00b tube" (when killed by an RPG), "this game sucks" or if you're feeling particularly soft and feminine even "good kill" (if it was one).

7) Mute buttons.
Games have them, know how to use them. Generally when you mute someone, they can still hear you, but you can't hear them... so it's entirely appropriate to say "I had to mute XXXX - what an asshole!". He'll hear you... and know that whatever he says, you can't hear him... and it's a justifiable form of torture.

8) "Are you a girl?".
You'll often hear this question and the appropriate response is to say "yes" then move on. It's good for guys to know that girls actually do game. If you want to play with their heads a little you could alternatively say "No, I'm a big hairy guy living in a trailer park... and I want you... I want you bad!" This usually confuses them and often shuts them up... so you can continue gaming in peace.

9) Do not use the PSN voice changer.
Yes, I'm well aware that by playing with the voice changer I can instantly grow a pair of balls and actually sound like that hairy creepy guy living in a trailer park with a stash of girly mags under the bed... or I can sound like Marvin the Martian. But either way, nobody is going to take you seriously when you're yelling "I have the flag and need air cover!!".

10) You do not need to be a Frag Doll.
Just because you're female does not mean you have anything to "prove". You're allowed to be an average gamer that plays lots of different games. If you want to get really good at one game, that's fine too... but you don't need to be "representin tha ladies"... any female who games and doesn't hide her gender does that.

11) You will learn new words.
Unless you worked in bars (which I did) or worked in the construction industry (which I also did), or watch a lot of South Park and Family Guy... you will be exposed to a tapestry of foul language that you might not have heard before. Just regard it as "educational". I actually had to look up "MILF" when I got called one... and the word "fap" - which I've seen several times here on this very lovely and PG rated gaming site. I'm 47, but have edumacated myself regarding current trends in linguistics. Yep... educational.

12) Assholes!
Above all, it's important to realize that there are assholes online, just as there are assholes in real life... but these assholes don't just harass females, they will harass pretty much everybody or anybody. They are indiscrimate assholes, so don't take it personally. They are also a minority. The vast majority of the time you'll be able to play and just enjoy the game.

So for any ladies considering trying out FPS online gaming... give it a try! Overall it's an incredible experience and while you may run into many of these situations, you'll handle them (though maybe not in the ways I've suggested! LOL!). Online shooter games are fun... there is a sense of being on a team that is not often found in other genres. There is a camaraderie of being on a squad or team and working together to achieve objectives. Don't be afraid to use a mic to talk... that's where the real sense of team play evolves. The ability to yell for aircover when you're running with the flag and see a plane swoop in to take out the plane MG'ing your butt... to hear someone yelling "take the high road, they got tanks on the low road" and to do a fast 360 in your jeep and safely make it to homebase with the flag to the cries of "nice!" or "well done!" from your teammates - that's what makes this type of game different.

Me... I probably talk too much in open mic games and have a bad habit of doing a running commentary on what our team should be doing or where the enemy is... or saying "crap" when I get killed - but guys know where the mute button is too, and when I hear "I had to mute Elsa... what an asshole... she never shuts up" - well... it's then that I know I'm just another gamer ... and that's kind of nice!

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