Chelsea L. Harris,
Fort Worth, TX.
I’m a gamer, and I don’t mean the occasional “Angry-Flappy Bird” app gamer, or “Just Dance” gamer. I’m a “Own Every Console, Collect Every Series Title, No-Life” gamer. My two brothers and I have been gamers since the days of NES, before I even quit wearing Pull-Ups. Gaming was the norm. Gaming is life. Once online gaming became a thing for me with SOCOM 2 on the PS2, and Halo 2 on the XBOX, I knew I’d be addicted to besting people I’d likely never meet … I just didn’t expect the online barrage of hate mail, nor the contents of that mail centering on how I’m just some 10 year old White boy with no life.
Um … I’m a BLACK GIRL, not a White Boy. I’m proud of it, so in an attempt to prevent repeated messages of the same nature (yeah, I’d get an average of 3-5 hate messages per week), I decided to start using the online handle “a blaack girl” … because “a black girl” was taken.
That only made the hate mail worse.
During the days of Halo 3 and Halo Reach, I’d receive an average of 10-15 hateful messages per week, and 25-30 negative hits to my “Gamer Rep”, Microsoft’s system of peer-rating. The messages ranged from disbelief that I was actually a Black chick (often demanding a photo), to racist insults and racial slurs (“n***** b****” was their favorite), to images sent of male player’s genitals. Occasionally, someone would tell me how they’re “impressed” that I play and performed so well … as if it’s a miraculous feat for a Black chick to play video games. It bothered me. It still bothers me occasionally, but I’ve noticed less harassment after switching from Halo to Battlefield on the PS4 – maybe because of the more mature nature of the game. Anytime I’m able to create an avatar on a game – online or local – I design THE most BLACKEST chick the options allow … I mean, afro or locks, melanin-poppin’, nerdy glasses wearin’ BLAAAAAACK chick. Whenever I meet other female gamers online, especially women of color, I add them as an online “friend”, even if their skill is lacking – at least they’re trying. I even volunteered to sponsor an Anime & Video Games Club at the school I currently teach at in Fort Worth. When the kids play Super Smash Bros., they know to bring their A-game when I’m playing, too. It’s serious.
I just want my fellow gamers to know that YES, Black girls play video games, too.