Original date of blog: December 11th, 2014
It was around tier IV that I first started getting interested in platoons (meaning you team up with one other person and join battles together). I had just gotten my Hetzer, and it seemed to take forever to upgrade it, and I had noticed that people that were playing as part of a platoon generally seemed to win. So I wanted that.
I started looking at the general chat, looking for someone to platoon with. Let me tell you, it’s very random in there. Aside from the people who just go there to spam (letters and numbers – you can’t post any links), there’s the fact that, being on the European server, there’s a lot of people from different countries, meaning there’s a lot of different languages being spoken in one chat. Then there’s the fact that, the game being used by any and all ages, you get a lot of immaturity in there. Of course, you also have the morons in the general chat that ask who the females are and who want to do the dirty in chat, etc, which I just don’t reply to, but when I state in chat, usually for reasons tied to discussions, or just because I’m fed up with being called ‘bro’, that I’m female, the reaction you get overall is like Caboose in Red vs Blue (“a girl, a girl!”). It makes the crazy happen, and you suddenly get friend requests from people who haven’t said a word to you, nor said a word in the general chat for that matter.
There was this one guy that added me, who had the most complex story ever. He was a Brit, but lived in South Africa, but had lived in Thailand also. He was a soldier, a marine even. He told me that one a date he had had, they had gone hunting and his date had shot a deer, and he had skinned and butchered it, and that I would likely be an even better shot because I was so good at this game. Oh, and he was an expert on tanks also, so he knew a lot about the models the game used. Within an hour of chatting between tanking, he had professed his undying love for me, and wanted to fly to Amsterdam to meet me (because you know, I’m Dutch, so I have to live in Amsterdam…). Not only that, but he swore on his dogtags that he was genuine and that I could trust him. I still don’t know why I didn’t jump on the offer. He seemed completely reliable, a dream to any woman… Most likely he would have been incredibly handsome, too! It might have something to do with the fact that he never saw me play, and aside from knowing I was Dutch and female, he knew absolutely nothing about me when he swore he would love me forever.
But, the chat was where I met my first platoon mate. He was, at the time, the only one that had a shred of maturity to him, so we had quite a fun discussion in between the spam and foreign languages. I added him, knowing we would likely never platoon as he was three levels above me. I made it clear that I really didn’t expect him to platoon with me until I got to a high enough level to make it interesting for him. This is where I got my second hint that females were treated differently in the game. The sweetheart actually platooned with me practically any and every time we were both online, picking a tank that was one level above mine, so I would tier up more quickly. Not only that, but he actually told me to hide behind him, so I would remain unharmed. This went on until I got my first tier VIII tank: the Ferdinand (which will totally be in my all-time favourite tanks-entry, it’s that special).
When I got more people I would platoon with regularly, I started to see more differences in how men and women are treated in the game. Aside from the game automatically assuming you’re male and there being no place where you can say you’re not, people start watching their words around you when they know you’re female. When calling the team noobs for being utter failures in the team-chat during the battle, my first platoon mate still takes care to tell me personally (through platoon-chat) that he doesn’t mean me. He does the same thing when telling the team off for not coming to his or someone else’s aid, once he’s dead.
One of my regular platoon mates told me he was going to file a complaint with the game for assuming that the one that starts the platoon and will thus start the battle is male. This because I was platoon captain, and it wasn’t a ‘he’ that would start the battle when ‘he’ was ready. Not sure if it will change anything, but the gesture is nice.
On an exceptionally random night in the chat, we had a digital wedding. There was a Russian female in the chat who was professing her love to any guy that responded to any message she said. We (me and my first platoon mate and a bunch of other guys) started to make fun of it and started planning a wedding for her. We went around dividing roles, ranging from priest to drunk uncle that makes an embarrassing speech. It was quite a lot of fun. Then the badly English-speaking bride got abusive, cussing the whole lot of us for not taking it seriously when she tried to hump her way through the chat, going from male to male and wanting to love them. I’m pretty sure that any credit build up by females in the game was ruined that night. Anyway, she rage-quit on us before we could get her married. It was decided we should still have the wedding though, and that I should be the bride. Funny thing was that being the only female left in chat meant I had to be the bride, but one of the guys could play mother of the bride. My first platoon mate was dubbed groom. We had a beautiful honeymoon in Hawaii.
Another thing I’ve noticed that is that, for some reason, people assume that because I am female, I am more fragile, as if my tank has different stats and abilities because I am a woman. When someone wished all the ‘bros’ good luck in the game and I corrected him to ‘sis’ for me, I actually had team members pull back to come to my position to shield me and help me out without me needing any help. I was driving the Ferdinand and was in an excellent position to snipe so the slow piece of tank wouldn’t have to move. They ruined my sniping, and the tank destroyer that had been out scouting was horribly killed without any backup because of it. Without a tank in front of me, I would have had some excellent shots. We were all brutally murdered soon after, for no good reason at all. That match cured me of stating I’m female in battle until I was dead.
One of my other regular platoon mates talks to other players about me, and refers to me as ‘that really great Dutch girl’. I have gained other friends to platoon with through him that way. It’s really sweet. He’s also actually stopped platooning with other people just to be able to platoon with me, because I’m such a nice person to platoon with (his words). Though that might not have anything to do with me being female, it’s still not something I come across regularly.
Another one always refers to me as ‘doll’ while tanking, but uses it as an affectionate term, rather than trying to demean me. When I tore the team a new one for abandoning him, and me, after I died, he actually paused his tanking to tell me to ‘calm down, doll’. But, with him, I know we at least platoon because he thinks I’m a good player – he lets me take the lead and uses me for cover instead of the other way around.
And I had a novelty a few weeks ago; my best platoon mate (my best, because we make a great team, he is a great guy and he rocks at the game) apologised to me for cussing where I could read it. I told him that, when someone’s being such a noob (in this case, he was blocked by a team member, which meant he couldn’t pull back and got shot dead), I didn’t mind him cussing a little, because it was deserved and I knew it wasn’t directed at me. He told me it would never be directed at me and that he never wanted to cuss in front of me. It was the sweetest thing, ever. He also lets me hide behind him, but as some of his tanks are very slow and very powerful, that makes sense.
Overall, being treated differently because I am female isn’t bad – people are more polite, watch your back better and all – but it’s also half an insult because at the same time, it’s assumed that I’m less of a player because of my gender. And they don’t even hear me call out with things like “gah”, “holy crap on a cracker”, “eep” or simply “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit” (with or without the oh’s) when things go bad or I run into practically the entire enemy team with no backup around and completely panic. If they did, I would understand their lack of faith. A little.
Battes fought: 2,606