I wore this shirt to work the other day. Every time I wear it, I remember how I got it for free at Quakecon one year because I wouldn’t stop bitching about how the one vendor there only sold tacky shirts in women’s sizes.
This was the only non-sexual shirt he had for women. It says, “read the fucking manual.”
All the other shirts said stuff like, “Chicks dig small ping,” and “Talk nerdy to me.”
“Hooray,” I thought. “As if being one of only 10 girls at this convention of several thousand people wasn’t enough of an invitation for weirdos to hit on me, I think I’ll invest twenty or so of my hard earned dollars on shirts with shitty puns so they’ll believe (incorrectly) that I am in need of their attention.”
I said as much rather loudly and probably somewhat more crassly as I was prone to do in those days (yes, more so than I am now). The other people browsing the t-shirt stand got a little uncomfortable. A girl near me snickered. The creepy shop owner tossed a shirt at me to shut me up.
Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have taken the shirt. Maybe I should’ve raised hell instead. The same guy was the one who took photos of a handful of female con attendees and posted them on his web site so people could vote on a “Ms. Quakecon.” Some of the women got wind of this and decided to organize their own Ms. Quakecon contest for the following year — a tournament for women only. I participated but performed terribly because I was so nervous. If I remember correctly, Ms. X crushed me in the first round.
I was never a competitive gamer, but I supported the Ms. Quakecon tournament because I wanted my fellow females to get more respect than those cheesy ass t-shirts afforded us. The message of those T-shirts was essentially, “I am eye-candy.”
It’s no secret that the gaming industry and community are still dominated by men, but women shouldn’t have to prove ourselves to be considered part of the community. The Ms. Quakecon tournament was a nice way to bring the females of the community together in our shared love of games. Rather than let some total skeeveball with a shitty digital camera post our pictures on his web site so we could be judged against one another, a handful of women decided to take matters into their own hands and create a tournament we could all be proud of.
If you’ve ever had dreams about rail guns and rocket launchers; if you know how to build a PC; if you save up money to pitch in for a hotel room with 10 other people just so you can sleep on the floor for 4 nights during a convention; if you volunteer to run cable and end up with bruised knees from crawling along the floor to pull Cat 5; if you’ve ever worked an overnight security shift without pay out of nothing more than love for your fellow gamer … you deserve a lot more than small ping.