Ohhh, so you played the Sims right? Or Minecraft, but you don’t actually go caving or beat the game? 

Whilst both those statements are certainly true about myself, girls don’t just play Stardew Valley or It Takes Two. We dabble in Phasmophobia, Uncharted, Dead by Daylight, Resident Evil, World of Warcraft, Disco Elysium, Valorant. You name it. We play it.

Over the pandemic, everyone found different little new hobbies to delve into in order to distract themselves from the crippling boredom that would otherwise be faced. For me, new little activities popped up here and there, but nothing truly stuck. Until… 

An advert appeared on my YouTube, a game a little strange, unlike anything I’ve seen before. Immediately I’m sucked in, and it’s too late. 

Now I have crippling shame for the game I played for a good two years of my life, and you can certainly feel free to judge or hurl abuse, as it is well deserved. I played League of Legends (LoL), a game so terrible  and yet so  exhilarating that it was almost impossible to stop. If anyone reading actually plays the game, I mained Neeko – by far the cutest of all the one-hundred-and-sixty champions available. Within the gaming community, judging me for playing this game is completely justifiable, however I have never received backlash for it the way others may have. I seem to have some privilege that has softened the blow of the amount of criticism I have received for playing this heinous game. I’ve been on first dates where I mentioned in passing that I enjoy video games, and unfortunately I cannot lie to save my life, so when asked my most played game the truth would always slip out. “League of Legends” I’d quietly mumble, hoping they couldn’t hear me. But surprisingly, despite the extortionate amount of hatred LoL players often receive, I have never encountered that in real life. I think it may have something to do with the fact I am aware I don’t look like your stereotypical Discord mod, a privilege may have something to do with how I am treated as a female gamer. As a girl gamer, everything nerdy that I am into doesn’t make me a ‘neek’, it just makes me ‘different’, or ‘unique’. 

My experience playing LoL as a female player is very different from someone who is a man. Women are vastly outnumbered on online multiplayer video games, and in my experience they definitely make only a minority of players in League of Legends. My gamer tag at the time was “TescoPrincess”, an obviously gendered title that often made me the target of sexist comments when playing. Dying in a game could mean constant harassment by male players who blamed my failure on my gender. The misogynistic culture perpetuated by players was ultimately one of the main reasons I retreated from playing LoL, along with the fact that I desperately needed to get my life back on track. And whether it was through chat abuse, or the people I was playing with screaming into their mic at me at the smallest of a misplay, I always noticed. Men are allowed to make mistakes in video games, with little to no judgement. Women on the other hand face crippling backlash from their supposed teammates. Comments like “it’s not your fault you’re a girl” were the most aggravating of  all. 

I retreated from online MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) like League of Legends for good reason, and I don’t really intend on returning. For me, it was unhealthy, an addiction, and while I’m sure I could have slowed down into having a positive relationship with the game, I would only go back if the raging, stroppy, and sexist men who played alongside me sort out their own major issues first. 

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