Podcast Episode Review: Gaming & Politics

By Rachel Aul

As an avid female gamer, the March 1st episode [with Dan Grueber] of the Growing Democracy podcast was something very exciting to listen to. I am also a graduate student in political science, so when I sit down to enjoy my favorite games, I also have more politically motivated thoughts while playing. Hearing Dan bring to light so many of the questions I have had while playing videogames made me feel not so alone or like I’m taking the games “too seriously.”

I have a personal experience with all the issues that were discussed, but the sexism is what I resonated the most with. I play a lot of Overwatch but if I am playing alone, I will never enter voice chat. This is an experience shared by many female gamers that I know. The mere fact that our voice may present “feminine” makes us a target. But sometimes, even the character you choose in games is a “giveaway” for your gender. For instance, I once did so well in an Overwatch match while playing with a female friend that a random player from the opposing team messaged me and told me that I wouldn’t have been doing so well if my boyfriend wasn’t playing with me and “protecting me” (I never play Overwatch with my boyfriend because he doesn’t like it).

Comments and treatment like this are a regular experience for females who play videogames and it’s well documented on Youtube and TikTok. It’s hard to go a day in competitive gaming where you don’t experience sexism. I would love to read Dan’s work when finished because I think it could help shed some light on how serious political issues, such as sexism, are very much present in the gaming community and how that may translate into everyday life when the headset comes off. I also hope in the near future, we get to see more professional female gamers like Geguri, Remilia, VKLiooon and more. Videogames are an opportunity for people to use their skills and brains to compete through a virtual platform, gender should not mean anything at all.