what gamer girls experience



How, where and with whom did you spend your time during quarantine/lockdown? I left Japan in mid-February, just before the COVID-19 began to spread around the world, and I spent 5 months in Canada. In the area where I was staying, there was a lockdown from mid-March to the beginning of June, and during that time I was with my partner and his family, who are Canadian. During quarantine, I spent a lot of time at home, so I started playing online games every day after work with my partner's sister, a gamer girl, called Tess.

色んな種類があるオンラインゲームの中で、あたしとテスがプレイしていたのは、Steam(スティーム)というソフトウェア内で無料ダウンロードが可能な、複数人で遊べるシューティングゲーム『Counter-Strike: Global Offensive(以下、CS:GO)』。その中でも人気なモードが「コンペティティブ・モード」というもの。このモード内では、5人ずつでチーム編成されたテロリストチーム対警察チームで、基本的に打ち合いや爆弾の設置・解除をする。友達5人でチームとして参加することも可能だけど、一人や数人で参加することもできて、その場合には、ゲームが自動で選んだ知らない人たちと一緒に5人チームを組むことになる。ゲーマーとしての技術だけではなく、チームメイトとマイクを使ってコミュニケーションをとりながら作戦を立てて、勝利へ導かれるゲームだから、チームメイトは大切で、途中退出は基本的にできない。あたしは北アメリカの人達が参加できるサーバーでプレイしていたから、英語でコミュニケーションを取っていた。

There are many different types of online games, but the one that Tess and I were playing is the multiplayer first-person shooter video game "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)" which you can download for free on the digital gaming software called Steam. One of the most popular modes is "Competitive Mode". In this mode, two teams of five each, a terrorist team and a police team, play against each other in a battle to either place or disarm a bomb. You can join a game with your friends and make a team of five, but you can also join with one or a few friends, in which case you have to make a five-person team with a couple of strangers that the game automatically chooses. Teammates are important because this is a game where you are guided to victory not only by your skills as a gamer, but also by communicating with your teammates on the microphone, planning our strategy. Usually you’re not allowed to leave in the middle of the game.


* ゲーマーゲート論争 = 主にハッシュタグ#GamerGateを使用して行われたオンライン・ハラスメント。ゲーマーゲート論争は、ゲーム文化における女性差別やいじめの問題に反対する人々が平和なゲーム社会を作るために論争したことがきっかけで勃発した。

** マイクロアグレッション = 「悪意のない差別的な言動や行動」

具体例ー『わかりづらい差別 -マイクロアグレッション

During quarantine, I played this game every day with Tess and sometimes a few of our friends or my partner, and we all had fun talking and playing together. When I play with Tess or our mutual friends, we play the game while on the phone, so we don't have to use the in-game microphone. But if there are random people on our team, we need to use the in-game microphone to communicate with them. One day we were on a team with a few strangers and as usual, Tess and I said "Hi!" on the microphone. An unknown teammate asked "Are you a girl?” and he called us “bitches” so casually during the game. I had set my in-game name to Hikari, and when he found out I was Japanese, he mimicked my comments with Japanese accent and called me "Nagasaki". (Many Americans are proud that the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War 2.) I was very aware of that the bullying and discrimination exist in computer game culture through the Gamergate controversy*. Discrimination against women is particularly acute, and there are malicious statements and threats by misogynists against female gamers and game developers. Even though I've played the game every day and been on a team with random people many times, they were nice and I didn't experience even a microaggression, so the sudden discrimination took me by surprise and I couldn’t say anything.

* Gamergate controversy: An online harassment used a hashtag “#GamerGate”. It broke out when some people started to fight against misogyny and bullying and to create a more peaceful game environment.

* microaggression: A discriminatory words or action without evil intention ≒ less obvious discrimination


As the game progressed, his words and actions escalated. He stalked me on the game, trying to block my way, and asked us about George Floyd’s death by using N word while laughing -- "What do you guys think about the n***** in Minneapolis?”. I thought he was really ugly inside and childish and at the same time, I felt every vein in my body was boiling with rage and pain whenever I heard his voice. But then I didn't feel the need to spend my energy to educate him, to resist or to talk back, so I just kept my mouth shut. At those times, Tess would speak up in defense of me or tell me “You can ignore him.”

ゲーム上でチームの人を誤って打って殺してしまうとペナルティがつくけど、相手にドアを通せんぼされながら「ナガサキ、どこに行きたい?どこにも行けないよ!」と笑いながら言われた時、あたしはいっぱいいっぱいになり、ゲーム上で相手を打ち殺して、ミュートして、通報して、ブロックした。今まであたし個人に対する直接的な差別を経験したことはなかった。ちょうどBlack Lives Matterや日本でのマイノリティに対する差別について学び始めた時に、今まで出会ったことのなかった「差別」を自分が直接的に体験したことで、きっとこんな風に相手を傷つけたい人は自分が思っているよりもたくさんいるんだろうな…と、改めて気づいた。このゲームが終わったあと、悔しくて、ムカついて、悲しくて、心が破れて、ただただ泣いてた。

If you accidentally shoot and kill someone on your team in the game, you get penalized, but when he was blocking my way and said while laughing "Where do you want to go, Nagasaki? You can’t go anywhere!” And I couldn't stand it and I shot and killed him on the game, and I muted, reported, and blocked him. I've never directly experienced any discrimination against me personally. At the time, I was just starting to learn about Black Lives Matter and discrimination against minorities in Japan. Having directly experienced discrimination, which I had never encountered before, I realized once again that there must be more people who want to hurt others than I imagined. After I finished playing this match, I was frustrated, pissed off, sad, heartbroken, and all I could do was just cry.


Of course, not everyone I encountered on the game was like that, but that one incident led me to stop using the in-game microphone, change my name to a random one, and let Tess and our mutual friends communicate with the team when we have random people. When Tess says "hello" and if they realize she’s a girl, they would ask "When can we fuck?” casually. However, Tess doesn't flinch at such statements. I figured that she must have had a lot of experiences like this before as a gamer girl, so I asked her about her experience during online games:

『よく覚えてるのは、ゲーム上で名前に「♡」をいれていた時に「練習でもお前とはヤりたくない」と言われたり、マイクで一言発せば「いつ俺とヤってくれる?」とか「俺がお前をレイプする前に黙れ」と言われたり、こういった激しい発言は何度か経験した。こういうことを言える男性たちは、現実の世界で女性への接し方を知らない人たちだと思う。こういった人たちがゲーマーの大半を占めているから、自分たちが主導権を握っていると思い込んでいて、何を言ってもいいと思ってる。そういったひどい発言を聞いた若い女性ゲーマーやゲームを始めたばかりの女の子たちは、緊張して何も言えなくなってしまうだろうし、そういう男性たちは、このまま女の子たちをカジュアルにビッチ呼ばわりしたり、そういう扱いを続けてもいいんだと思ってしまうんだろうね。最初に私がそういったことを聞いたり、言われたりしたとき、凍りついてぞっとしたのを覚えてる。 今は「黙れ」って言うようになった。現実では女性一人に近づくことすらできないから、そういう男性のいじめっ子が唯一力を持つ場所がビデオゲームの世界。CS:GOは、今までで[女性や人種差別が]一番ひどいゲーム*だと思う。』

* CS:GO利用者の約75%は男性

“The one I specifically remember was someone saying "I wouldn't fuck you for practice" only because I had added the ♡ symbol to my username. Sometimes you will say one thing on the microphone and some guy will say "so when are you gonna fuck me?" or “shut up before I rape you” or any similar thing. It's honestly rampant. I think the men saying those things are the ones who don't know how to act around women in real life. These men assume that they are in charge because they make up the majority of players, and so they think that they can say whatever they want. Younger girls or new female players will hear those awful things and be too nervous to say anything, and those men think it’s okay to continue to treat girls that way, calling them bitches so casually and everything else. I know when I first heard things like that I would completely freeze and my stomach would drop. Now I tell them to shut the fuck up. Video games are the only place where those kind of male bullies have power because in real life they can't even approach a woman. CS:GO* is by far one of the worst games for it.”

* About 75% of CS:GO users are male


When she told me that, I felt that I was one of those girls. After that one experience, I stopped using the microphone, felt uncomfortable using the name I wanted to use, and "nervousness" always comes with what I was enjoying as a hobby. With so many male-dominated industries out there, it's frustrating and not right that you have to give up something you love or enjoy, and feel uncomfortable or insecure just because you're a minority.


I'm proud to be both a woman and Japanese. But what I experienced during quarantine has left me a little traumatized. I still play CS:GO as well as other games almost every day, but I still avoid using the in-game microphone, and if someone says something harmful, I instantly mute them and shut them off. I would love to be able to tell them that they're wrong, but I feel like I haven't healed and gained the energy to face and think about it. But I would like to take time to think about how I can communicate with such people and respond to these situations in the future. As a first step, I thought I'd share my experience with you. Have you ever had a similar experience?

Images by Hikari

Illustrations by Hikari

English Edited by Karin

Edited by Hikari Sawada and Eli