New guy CJ (note: not his real initials) and I walked up to the doorway of number 118, where a couple of young men stood smoking outside. "You play Halo?" one of them asked. Yes, yes we do. "Upstairs to the left."
Yeah, we know a guy. A guy who has two huge TVs, two XBox 360s, 2 copies of Halo 3, and enough controllers and leather sofas to accommodate 8 players simultaneously. We hadn't actually played Halo before, but CJ once had a serious XBox addiction (he kicked it) and I've done my time on the Quake and the Unreal. We set up our characters (him: mad hatter; me: pretty pony), learned the controller basics of moving around and shooting, and went to multi-player slaughter-town. We played against a bunch of guys who had obviously spent a lot of time playing: They knew all of the game board maps, which guns were best, where those guns were stored... Meanwhile, my character kept looking up when I meant to look down, I had to stop moving in order to remember how to switch weapons, and I frequently spent several minutes "firing" at people while not noticing I was out of ammo. Still, I managed to kill a few people.
I was playing with 7 men, ages ranging from, let's say, 22-40, and I really, really didn't want to be treated differently because I was a woman. But the patriarchy is a funny thing. It gets into you guys, way deep inside where you don't see it, and you do things like think you're doing me a favor by letting me kill you. Please: Fire away; I know I'm going to get killed again and again, I'm a big girl, I won't cry. Do it, and don't patronize me. I know you think you're being nice and considerate, and are letting me kill you because you think I'll get too discouraged otherwise. But I'm not a child. In fact, I am likely older than you. CJ was doing almost as poorly as I was, and you didn't go out and find him, stand in front of him, and let him wale away on you until you died. And then say something like, "Well, I was getting you pretty hard, so..."
Why is that?
Still, I'd play again. I didn't get mad or even irritated, because I understand where it was coming from. I can handle a little mild sexism and I'm not surprised when I find it in places where normally only boys roam. I wish I could practice on my own so I'd be ready for next time... But I'd rather keep the $400 and whatever carpal tunnel health I currently have.