One of the many things I am proud of is my trophy collection. Ever since I was a Kindergartener I’ve been collecting accolades. As a textbook firstborn daughter and overachiever, there wasn’t a competition I couldn’t win or at least get into the Top 5. Sports, talent shows, Math Olympics; if there was a prize to be won, I won it.
As an engineering student professors measured us through our contributions to the many clubs and design teams, by our ability to meet requirements and get the desired results. The deeper I explored my vocation as a designer and process optimization engineer the more I realized I wasn’t in it for the recognition. I was in it for the satisfaction of a job well done. All I cared about was saying that I had a Mechanical Engineering degree. That was proof enough of my worth and contributions to society.
The first five years of my career I focused on building teams and promoting diversity and inclusion. There was no need to go after awards or competitions: I was as good as my team and if as a team we didn’t make the Top 5 it was okay. We were in it for the collective good and our ideas helped propel the future of our company, to secure it. I was still competing but I wasn’t earning trophies and that made me happy.
Still, there was something missing. I needed an outlet where I could start earning a reputation as “the best of the best”. Patents or industry awards needed lots of time and effort to come to fruition. I wanted something fast, something more akin to all those competitions of my academic life. And then I heard it…
Mr Enginerd was playing a PlayStation 3 game and he had completed an achievement. Said achievement came with a TROPHY! I was floored. I had a reason to rekindle my love for a hobby that I had neglected to fit in a Masters Degree and married life. That noise reminded me of how satisfying it is to earn recognition automatically for your efforts. When he put the controller down and walked away from the machine I quickly set up my own Playstation Network (PSN) account. (Sadly I didn’t have the foresight to use MrsEnginerd as my profile ID name. 😦 )
Here’s the result of 5 years of hard work and dedication:
The day I earned my one thousandth trophy my gamer guy friends were floored! Even Mr Enginerd was mystified. How could someone work, be a wife, pay bills, run a household and earn video game trophies at the same rate as a gamer dude? Surely she must have been playing easy girly games? Her husband helped her? (The answer is no. Mr Enginerd made sure he had 0 influence over my overall ranking even though I begged a few times for some assistance.) Those Platinum trophies must be from easy games? (Nope. One of them was from the game Borderlands and I am still mad about not earning trophies concurrently with player 1.)
Instead of getting applauded for the effort, I got awkward stares and resistance!
Guys online would assume I was one of them. The moment they realized I was a female gamer they focused on more mundane details of my life:
Are you pretty?
Nah, you can’t be married? You are?
Your husband lets you play? (The consoles are actually both mine, PS3 and PS4.)
What are your measurements?
I’m impressed. You are really good at this. Did your husband teach you? (I’m not doing it to impress people. I just fell in love with my Atari and NES and Sega Master System…)
Are you sure you are not doing this to play the “cool girl” to your husband?
The list of innocently absurd questions goes on and on.
If you look me up online you’ll see that I am past the 1000 mark by now. My friends have access to the many games I have played and completed. You can compare them to your own list. There’s a lot of mainstream games on it, even some my husband refuses to play to avoid “arguing with 13 year olds online”.
I wish I had a good argument to convince people video games aren’t for males only. That girls can love video games and grow up to be kickass ladies with excellent careers and loving relationships. Surprisingly, statistics show that women play just as much video games than their male counterparts. I have never met a mother of young children that doesn’t know who Super Mario is or a career woman who hasn’t played at least one level of Tetris or round of Solitaire.
I have always wondered why guys need the gamer club to be exclusive to males. I hear it in their tone whenever they see me try a level and I fail. The collective sigh of relief when I managed to kill one less enemy that they did. Maybe they think they are holding up gracefully, that by not voicing their concern or passed judgement they were gentlemanly enough. But I know and recognize the animosity. I can tell when they kick us ladies out of the battle room because “girls can’t play first or third person shooters well”. I know you don’t check my street credentials before making the call. You should.
I’m proud of my trophies and of my standing. Mr. Enginerd is actually a level 13 and whenever he sees me catching up he throws a fit. The struggle is real ladies and if you happen to feel the same look me up and friend me. I’ll be glad to join you in the field of battle to kick some ass and take some names.
Gents, if your daughter happens to be an excellent gamer she might take after you. Encourage her. Play with her. Teach your sons, peers and nephews to respect her efforts and those of female gamers worldwide. In the end, the intent of the industry is to grow and entertain not to segregate and discriminate.
I sincerely hope that in my case, sometime in the future, my son gets his gaming skills from me. That he is proud of his trophy collecting mother. And if I never get a son or daughter I hope my husband comes to terms with my achievements and can be proud of the woman gamer I have become.