My Sister Rules at Halo

“Girl gamers” have become a hot-button issue, in part for the very fact that girls playing games shouldn’t even be an issue. The talk goin’ ’round got me thinking of my own experiences, which I would like to share.

My half-sister Jenny came to live with me and my wife when she was 19. Shortly before that, she hadn’t even known I existed, but the wonder of social media fixed that – MySpace at the time, to give perspective. Jenny had gone through a lot in her short life, but remained sweet and smart and optimistic. Thankfully, her tough upbringing hadn’t made her fragile.

At that point, I’d been in the game industry for nine years. I have a pretty extensive game collection. Jenny immediately gravitated to Halo. Halo 3 (Xbox 360, buy here) had been out a year and a half, but its online community was still thriving. I had spent a few months in that community near the game’s launch, but I’ve never been good at online first-person-shooters. Jenny, on the other hand, kicked ass.

I would consider her an elite Halo player. Luckily, we were almost always assigned to the same team – thanks, split-screen and party system! – so I didn’t have to taste her fury firsthand. As I struggled to keep a kill-to-death ratio of 75%, Jenny had a way of finding her target with stunning accuracy while dodging bullets like mosquitoes.

I was the inferior player, and the stats often made that apparent. Still, Jenny always gave me encouraging words and tips, and was never the least bit frustrated at my shortcomings – even when my ineptitude caused our team to lose. Playing with her actually made me markedly better, to the point that I became a chip off the ol’ block.

Jenny did not receive the same encouragement from those we battled with or against, however. Her gamer tag was some riff on “Mad Skills” in all caps with lots of extra letters, and her emblem was always something feminine. Since she insisted on us wearing headsets (buy here) at all times, our fellow players got to witness her cute, girly voice. Basically, she made no effort to mask who she was.

As a big brother – especially one known to be a little intense – it was difficult for me to hear the venom being directed at my sister. Not everyone was detestable, and we did party up with some cool people. But with the rage of losing and the empowerment of anonymity, no word was too taboo to fling at this sweet little girl who had just headshotted them from across the map or meleed them from behind like a ninja.

It didn’t bother Jenny. In fact, at times I think she treated those words as trophies. She had been freaking homeless as a child; some bro’s butthurt insults didn’t rate.

Even still, as a gamer I’m embarrassed at the way we treat those who aren’t perceived as being a part of the majority. I rarely play multiplayer games myself, and when I do I tend to leave the headset in the bin. I don’t want to deal with either the taunts or the lamentations of my immature opponents – even though I’m an average American male. But petite, adorable Jenny doesn’t mind. She drinks their tears like nectar to a hummingbird then swoops back around for seconds.

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7 thoughts on “My Sister Rules at Halo

  1. I’m a guy who’s been playing gamers fro a long time.. and i say more power to your sister, and i gotta give her props for ignoring a-holes who like to bad mouth gamers that happen to be girls. I’ve had girls kick my ass in online matches plenty of time and I’ve always giving a message of good job or nice match/round to them afterwards.. never though twice about their gender.I don’t really think there should be the labels of guy gamers and girl gamers.. just gamers, regardless of gender. Hopefully my fellow gamers who still bad mouth female gamers will grow up at some point.. at least i can hope so.

  2. Good call, Adam. Several bad apples get all the press, but there are plenty of non-douche gamers out there.
    Like most issues of equality, hopefully calling it out will lead to positive change. And if not, at least the people being demeaned may realize those trying to put them down aren’t worth their time.

  3. More power to you, Jenny. Adam, I don’t know if I would have been able to restrain myself if that were my sister. I’d like to think I would have been able to just back her up and keep my big fat mouth shut, but I really don’t know. I hope you two keep kicking ass and taking names.

    • And Adam would be the original commentator, not the author. This is what I get for writing this with a glass of wine in my hand. 🙂 Justin, you and your sister are still awesome.

  4. Not sure what the issue is. Isn’t trash talking a normal part of these games? Or do you expect guys to go easy on girls just because they’re the so-called “weaker gender” and “can’t handle playing with the boys”? Otherwise, as a general thing, there are few things harder than watching (or listening) to a significantly younger sibling be mistreated, but that’s hardly an issue of gender.

    • I believe the issue is that girls playing games is not a big deal. But by labeling them “girl gamers” or calling them out (look how these wacky girls play games!), the media is effectively cordoning them off from other gamers. It’s essentially discrimination. I just wanted to give an example of how my sister is pretty identical to other gamers, except that she’s female. And it’s used against her a lot — something I think is stupid to lord over her.
      There’s this misconception that the only people who play games are white males in their teens or early 20s. And the way some people act, they want to keep it that way — weeding out anyone who doesn’t fit that mold.
      Lately, there has been a lot of talk about recognizing the way women who game or make games are treated. Look at the #1reasonwhy Twitter conversation.
      When you’re in the majority, it’s hard to empathize with how the minority is being treated. Sometimes you even mistreat them yourself without even realizing it.

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