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Rambling: Miswired

[TL;DR: I like Sci Fi and don't know why Eve is broken for girls.]


Once a year or so I write something about gender and playing Eve. I don't write about it often. That is because it is not something I think about anymore then my ethnicity. I do not burst from my bed screaming that I am a female gamer. Nor do I stand before my mirror and trumpet my ethnicity as I wrestle my hair under control. If I identify with anything about myself, it would be my introversion and the impact that it has upon both my real and virtual life. The hurdles it causes me and my efforts to overcome myself.

But gender is a delicate subject. More delicate than race in some avenues of the internet these days. It is an old story and one that simply seems to change mediums. It is not a topic I enjoy discussing. The waves of reactions that it trigger drown out conversation. However, I accidentally mired myself into it by idly responding to a comment asking if girls liked Sci Fi.

Why yes. Yes I do. And so I said that I do. I've always enjoyed science fiction. I read A Matter for Men before I was ten. I was reading Heinlein when I was twelve. Friday, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and to Sail Beyond the Sunset are still some of my favorite books by him. I have my father's collection of science fiction books reaching back into the 50's and 60's as well. I love that type of science fiction as much as I enjoy Alastair Reynolds and David Brin. Deep Space Nine is my favorite Star Trek and Thorarinn Gunnarsson's Starwolves are still a pleasure.

Such was were my mind was when I answered a question and tipped myself into a place I did not wish to be.

The comment was on the tweet from a journalist who went to Fanfest last year. I remember reading her article and scratching my head at it. I had no idea what the point of the thing was. It may be that I did not look at it correctly. That I did not look at the article from a point of gender. That may be because I look at articles about Eve from the view point of a player and reading reviews from professional writers who are not players often leaves me puzzled.

Because I am a player of this game.

But, that is how I wound up in a discussion with someone I don't know about Eve not wanting female players. I disagreed. He waved stats at me. I pointed out that I liked Eve fine. That's a bullshit argument it seems. And the moment the bullshit argument statement whipped out I peaced out of the conversation. I was not as invested as the other person and the entire being a player part was going to be skipped over for metrics.

Eve's female population is low. Lower than average on the MMO scene. It has been low since they tracked it and it remains low. The question is why is it low. There are theories. The hardcore science fiction theme. The complexity. The community. The lack of avatar game-play. The lack of top layer socialization. The free world style. It is to male centric. The list goes on and on and on. The points may or may not be valid, we don't know. We know that something about Eve does not attract a large female population. But we don't know what that is. That makes everything else a guess.

I don't know what it is ether. I am attracted to Eve. I like it fine. I am also female. So, when someone says that girls don't like Eve or Eve does not appeal to girls I go, "But I like Eve!" and wave my hands around. I don't understand why other people of my gender do not like the game. I like the game. If I am a small percentage does that mean I do not count?

Maybe, I do not. But, every time I hear it, I cannot help but tilt my head in puzzlement. Do I count or do I not count? Am I a representative of who likes this particular genera mix or is the game broken? Or am I broken? I tried to share Heinlein with my friend somewhere around the time that I was thirteen. It didn't work. I gave her "I Will Fear No Evil" to read. It was a bit sexy and racy for our innocence level. The concepts blew me away. It was deeper and richer than Friday which was more of a saucy thrill. I picked it up at a bookstore in California when I went to a convention with my mother. I read it there, curled up in a convention center drowning in the richness of it. I had to share and I was flushed with delight. My best friend would love it. She had to. Nope. She couldn't get into it and didn't understand what I liked about it. How sad I was. Her book gift to my that same year was "The Wind in the Willows." I'd read it years before when I was eight or nine and it was below my new teenage desires.

It may be good that I am not tasked with fixing this problem. Perhaps, I would not like an Eve that draws in an even gender range. Maybe there is something there that I'd dislike. I wouldn't think so, but I must wonder now.  I don't think that Eve is perfect. There are things that I dislike. There are behaviors and concepts that I do not enjoy. But they have not been pinned to gender so far.

Ahh well. Mostly, I've made myself nostalgic and will go load up my tablet with all that I have linked above.

Comments

  1. EVE community celebrates hurting people. No, not defeating them in the game, but making them cry/rage. Some players go far out of their way to harm others without any in-game reason. They also try to humiliate their victim.

    They are a minority, but they are celebrated by blogs and fansites. This is very far from what an ordinary woman (or decent man) would want.

    The tragedy of EVE is that this image is false. Most players are "carebears". A large minority is participating approximately fair fights (Sov warfare, FW).

    But we don't hear about them. We hear about the spies who ruined the work of their "guildmates", the tears and the ganks. As a result EVE struggles to get new players. Maybe the "this is EVE" videos that show spaceship combat instead of ganks and "metagame" helps.

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    1. I think it's fair to say to say EVE has a bit of a culture of hyper masculinity frankly. Any type of attempt to diplomacy or conversation post-fight by the defeated is normally met with 'lol tears' 'excuses' 'cry more'.

      And hyper masculinity is very toxic to 'non-alpha' males as much as it to women, I feel uncomfortable when people gloat over silly loss mails from people who never had much of a shot or throw the r-word around, I'm pretty disappointed in myself when I find certain language creeping into my own vocabulary. And more often then I should I keep quiet, for the fear of exclusion or judgement of my peers and then hate myself afterwards for keeping my mouth shut when I know damn well I should speak up.

      The very fact I feel that way means something isn't quite right.

      Delete
    2. "And hyper masculinity is very toxic to 'non-alpha' males as much as it to women"

      Totally agree with this. Just pick any random comments at the Hyperdunk thread; would you PAY for playing that game? For being like THEM? Even after 25?

      But then you can't expect better from CCP.

      Delete
    3. "But we don't hear about them."

      And you are surprised? Why would I advertise fleet services casually? May as well hang a sign on the back of the hull "gank me". Anonymity remains the best defence I possess.

      Delete
    4. There is also a lot of hypermasculine vitriol in the threads about the removal of AWOXing.

      There is a lot of gloating about 'ganker tears' punctuated by the occasional homophobic or misogynistic remark. If the comment isn't being made by a null-sec player who thinks that anyone who does PVP outside of their corner of the sandbox is a beta 'faggot' then it is probably by that special kind of EVE player who often wishes (or even threatens) real-life harm on you and yours because you beat them in a game.

      Whether you just ganked a barge or got ganked in one, nobody should be spitting on their opponent.

      Delete
  2. I find the idea that "EVE needs more women" crazy. EVE is what it is, and I like it. It can certainly be changed, but changing a thing to try to appeal to people who hate it does not seem like an obvious idea to me. Make changes that appeal to people who like it. Or at least to people who kind of like it, but are not quite sold yet.

    It would be great if more women liked EVE. But quite evidently, they don't. OK? Not OK to some people. Can't there be anything any more that appeals primarily to one sex?

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  3. Hmmm..... I'm going to agree with Gevlon on this one a little.

    I *love* sci-fi and space. I'm a satellite communications engineer spending most of my time thinking about space. On that level EVE really interests me.

    The only times I've considered quitting EVE have been when I'm faced with, for lack of a better term, bullies. I get attacking other players and blowing them up for in game benefit or defending something you claim is yours. I even get fighting just for the adrenaline rush or to test your skill against others. What I don't get and what usually makes me think "Is this game worth it" is the 'tear harvesting' and the whole idea of trying to emotionally *hurt* the *player* on the other side of the screen.

    As a woman who works in a male dominated field (engineering) and who served in a male dominated military I'm no stranger to dealing with men and their bias. I have, however, never been around such a large community that idolizes people *hurting* each other. If I ever quit EVE that will be why.

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    1. And that would and could be a very good reason why. Tolerance is what it is and casual cruelty exhausts me some days as well.

      Delete
    2. Short answer: women are just one of the misfit minorities who don't get EVE and play it wrong.

      EVE is about hurting people. Players like Sugar are just misfits. And sooner or later the game gets rid of them.

      Delete
    3. I hope that it gets rid of you first Onions...

      Delete
    4. I believe that Onions no longer plays.

      Delete
    5. I've played other MMOs as well, and I have seen same sort of machismo and desire to hurt others in those as well. The amount of it does vary and by my experience correlates strongly with the proportion PvP takes in the game. Oh, and both men and women do partake in the machismo and tear harvesting - it is not just male thing.

      Delete
    6. "I hope that it gets rid of you first Onions..."

      It already did. EVE gameplay summarizes as "fuck or be fucked". Sugar, Mike and anyone who does not go around making the game miserable for others is going to be defeated.

      Delete
    7. Except that you're not really gone, you're still watching it from the sidelines, looking for that opportunity to get back into it...

      Why bother with it at all and continue to insult people who are playing it?

      Delete
    8. Insult? Who did I insult? Being a misfit in EVE is a honor, compared to fitting in as well as erotica1.

      Delete
    9. "Except that you're not really gone, you're still watching it from the sidelines,"

      I take it you never watch a sporting event if you don't currently play for a team in the league?

      There is much amusement to be had from merely watching EVE "from the sidelines".

      Delete
  4. I'm puzzled, too, Sugar. I've been wargaming for 35 years and it's the same with wargames as it is with MMOs, women are so rare that it's like witnessing the big bang whenever a real, live woman walks into a gaming session. It could be that these types of games just don't appeal to a large cross-section of women - not that they appeal to a large cross-section of men, either - board wargames, I mean, the REAL, TRUE gamers' games :) - or maybe it's just the way we teach men and women about their roles in society. It's probably related to why certain professions are overwhelmingly slanted towards one gender or another.

    I still don't get why more women don't want to game online, though. Then again, I still don't get why I can't get people excited over the prospect of spending hours and hours pushing cardboard chits across a map as we re-fight WWII, either. Clearly, both types of games are riveting :)

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    1. "I still don't get why more women don't want to game online, though"

      I don't know what it's like for most women, but in my experience, some men go out of their way to make you feel very very uncomfortable online. Either they're constantly hitting on you (asking for naked pics or saying outright disrespectful shit to you) or they're saying offensive things to see how far they can push you. I've been in two null corps where the misogyny and homophobia on comms and in chats made me leave the alliance. (Not to mention all the horse porn and general incompetence in all things PVP related. >_>)

      If you're voice is even remotely attractive to male ears, you're in trouble. And lord help you if you're "pretty" and you decide to post a pic. (Cue the fap/stalker/rape jokes...)

      It makes for a very toxic situation, one that can permanently sour the game for a woman if she doesn't remove herself from the problem. (In my case, it meant podding back to highsec and giving all my null stuff to a newbie) There are women in those types of corps who apparently don't mind being addressed like a whore, but it aint me. :/

      Delete
    2. That was meant to be read sarcastically, as I thought my follow-on sentence implied.

      That said, that's been my experience also, in most of the corps I've been in. It was so bad that I muted people on a regular basis. And I'm a guy and served in the army for 12 years.

      Delete
  5. I followed the link to Keza MacDonald’s article and quite enjoyed it. Her, ‘I’m absolutely baffled’ approach makes for good reading, especially when reporting about a specific over the top Fanfest spectacle. Still the conclusion’s she chooses to draw about all of Eve don’t seem well supported. Quoting MacDonald, “I feel like I’m watching EVE’s masculine power fantasies wrought flesh. It is the purest real-world reflection of its hyper-masculinity that I could imagine - there’s an undercurrent of male competition running through the whole of Fanfest, usually just under the surface, occasionally coming up for air as its attendees chant “DESTROY! DESTROY! DESTROY!””

    Equating Eve and its several hundred thousand players and all they do with a specific Fanfest performance you choose to attend and the players you happen to meet and interview around that occasion is a lot like watching Tina Fey & Amy Poehler host the Golden Globes and then drawing conclusions, based on Fey and Poehler’s performance, about the worldwide state of Television and Movies. While it might make good grist for an article and even enable some penetrating observations, it’s well-nigh guaranteed not to be very comprehensive. One wonder’s how differently MacDonald’s article would appear had she had attended Dr. Eyjo’s annual lecture on the EVE economy instead (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2hsqEvPGWQ).

    I suppose what most concerns me about MacDonald’s article is that it reads just as well as prescriptive proclamation as it does as descriptive exploration. I suppose we Eve players can let MacDonald tell us who we are, what we do and why we do it. Alternately, we can resist.

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    1. +1.

      I agree with everything Dire has said in a comment. The world is now coming to an end :)

      Delete
  6. Very interesting article, Sugar. A couple comments:

    The writer in question writes for Kotaku, a site that draws a very specific profile of reader in higher-than-average proportion. I enjoy the articles, but much like a reddit post's comments, you can kind of guess how the comments are going to go just by the site.

    As to the reason Eve, in particular, has a low female population, I think it's a combination of reasons. I can't claim to know all of them, but I would guess (and guess only) that the heavily mathematical "win at eve" approach is related. That's not to say that women can't or choose not to do math, but that the appeal of a mathematical problem appeals more to a "solver" than a "explorer/discussor" personality type. Men are the former in higher proportion.

    I mean, just look at orbital velocity calculations... only a sadist would choose a game that does that.

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    1. Given a satellite's orbit and coordinates of a ground terminal on earth I can manually calculate the azimuth and elevation of a sat terminal needed to make a connection..... and I'm a woman. In fact, I'm normally surrounded by men at work who are very obviously worse at their jobs than I am. :)

      Delete
  7. I wonder if it's more the public face of the community that can be off-putting... When I was looking into Eve, google always popped up themittani.com and evenews24.com on the first result page. Themittani commenters as an example, can be thoughtful and intelligent, but when they do let rip, ne'er a bunch of less welcoming, more bigoted, vulgar, ultraviolent mouth-breathers can be found. Except in the Evenews24 comments... and the Eve forums... The real community cultures seem to be hidden inside the game, keeping low profiles to avoid being locked as primary targets by the loud tub-thumpers, only available *after* you've decided to give it a try. If it wasn't for E-Uni I may have passed over Eve. Thank God(Bob) for E-Uni. But I don't think I feel that way because I'm female so much as because I'm not a fan of Lord Of The Flies styled tribalism. I don't know the answer to increasing female participation. I do enjoy That Moment on coms when the sweet doofuses realise that I really, truly, am a girl, and I wasn't joking when I said "not all the girls in Eve are boys". Also: while I definitely see casual sexism everywhere in Eve ("if they try to learn pvp, sometimes they can get as good as us", oh ffs really?), in 4 months I've never been harassed or abused for being a woman. My male alt on the other hand has been told to shut up in chat for asking dumb questions, been hunted while I've been ignored...

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  8. Good, honest post, Sugar - thank you. You do indeed count, and all you are doing for our community makes a difference. Keep up the good work.

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    1. A funny part is that EVE would have more female players if those female players were fighting against female players. A "female only" server would reach such degrees of viciousness as to make "The Lord of the flies" look like a picnic at the Downs...

      Delete
    2. Re: Angry Onions January 29, 2015 at 6:30 AM

      Quote:
      A funny part is that EVE would have more female players if those female players were fighting against female players. A "female only" server would reach such degrees of viciousness as to make "The Lord of the flies" look like a picnic at the Downs...

      Interlocutor:
      Did Onions just state that sans the guiding influence of men, women gamers would descend into such viciousness the very universe would tremble?

      DireNecessity:
      I see no other way to read it.

      Interlocutor:
      Makes public how Onions as little but a bigoted, sexist hate filled Troll, yes?

      DireNecessity:
      I see no other way to read it.

      Delete
    3. To: DireNecessity
      Re: Female competiveness

      What I said is that women compete against other women. Most men fail to understand that there is such competition, though.

      In the event that EVE appealed to women for the reasons it appeals to men (feeling alpha), it would be something to behold. And very harsh.

      Delete
  9. Journalists always approach stories with an angle, so no real surprise there.

    Rykki's statements dovetail almost exactly with the observations I've heard from the women I've played EVE with: The game is great, the lore is great, the complexity is great, the sandbox is great, but the toxicity of some of the player base is not. It's not even a question of being bullied or hurt or offended so much as not wanting to spend their free time putting up with the same crap they want to get away from after a long day.

    The demographics don't just alarm women, either. I've spent more than a few evenings mulling the significance of the fact that I play an overwhelmingly white, male game, and I'm a white male.

    The problem's much, much bigger than EVE; I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that part of it involves the EVE NPE, though it's not necessarily something the NPE can fix. There are web sites full of examples of abuse hurled at women on, say, Xbox Live, and World of Warcraft. It's entirely possible that a woman considering EVE has already learned to avoid voice comms. If they find out that most corps require voice comms, then maybe they don't join a corp, or they join a failcorp that doesn't care because it doesn't really do anything coordinated anyway. The attrition rate among players like this--male or female--is extremely high.

    I'm not sure how to solve that problem. EVE Voice with really good filters could disguise whether a player is male or female (or a spy, so savvy corps might either not use it or require that there be no filter applied), but it won't fix the problem of alienating and dehumanizing language from other players. Only the players can do that. That's a much bigger issue than EVE as well.

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    1. I wanted to add that the attrition rate--male or female--is extremely high, but I'm wondering if it hits women disproportionately because men don't generally even hesitate to join voice comms (and sure, there are exceptions to that--gay men, for example, might have learned to do the same thing rather than listen to the f-word getting thrown around constantly and negatively).

      Delete
    2. Men don't hesitate to join voice comms because we don't really have to worry about how we're perceived. In an odd way for men voice comms are a great equalizer as long as it's just the game being discussed it removes ethnicity, education, class, culture, religion, politics. Though we replace some of those instantly with in game variants who you are in the real world is mostly irrelevant. It's great escapism.

      It's also male privilege.

      Because if you're a woman an you come on comms you're going to asked what you look like, what you do in the real world what your interests are... And much of the anonymity it provides men doesn't get to exist for you as a woman. And while some women might enjoy the attention I bet a great many of them don't. (Obviously I'm writing this as the observations of a bloke so I might be way off).

      Delete
    3. Exactly that, yes.

      The "must use voice comms" requirement isn't a hurdle for us, but it can be a deal-breaker for a woman who's been burned for daring to be obviously female on comms. You can even find well-meaning advice online about how it's just better for women to remain silent, which isn't retrograde at all, right?

      In EVE, a refusal to get on voice comms and speak shuts you out of just about everything that leads to player retention, so the different experiences men and women have online become urgently relevant. Obviously, it doesn't shut *everyone* out, but if it even shuts out most, or half, it's a significant loss to the game.

      Then there's the gay woman I know, who has to be even more wary...

      Delete
  10. The whole point is not whether the game is appealing to women or men, it is more about the tolerance level one is willing to accept.
    It may be that initially it appeals to both equally.
    However, the perception that the game is accepting of the view that it caters to borderline or full blown sadists in it's ranks, makes us all question from time to time what we can tolerate.

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  11. Man, I guess the people telling me it once got so bad their coalition-leader flipped out and dropped all sov because he couldn't take all those toxic pubbies anymore really weren't joking.

    Then there was that stuff I only half-remember about a great purge during something called the "cultural revolution". If my memories are correct, that was something awful indeed.

    But even though, the player base even in that neck of the woods isn't really friendly to women, I think. Hopefully the situation gets better in the future, it would be sad to lose another future Sugar Kyle just because so many players are assholes.

    ReplyDelete

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