BurnYourBra discusses the difficulties of being a female gamer

Posted by Jonathan 'Catalyst' Grey • April 15, 2011 at 5:02 a.m. PDT
BurnYourBra discusses the difficulties of being a female gamer Jason24cf of Dominion Method Gaming recently interviewed DMG|BurnYourBra to discuss what it's like being a female gamer in the fighting game community. She shares some negative and positive experiences, along with details about her personal life.


Warning: There are some racial remarks in this interview that have not been edited out. I felt it was better that these go up in their entirety instead of readers having to guess at what was being said.

Forward by DMG|jason24cf: I only have been a member of the fighting game community for a short while, little less than a year now, in fact. And from what I have seen on streams and what I seen at two majors I have attended was a really strong community where players help one another. That’s not always case. What I read the other day from a post by a gamer was really a shock to me. So I reached out to her to find out what went down, this is her response.

DMG|jason24cf: I’m here with DMG’s own BurnYourBra. Thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I wanted to have this sit down with you because I respect you as a player. I read some real foul stuff went down at a recent tournament in Houston you competed in. What went down at this tournament that upset you so much to post your frustration on Facebook?

DMG|BurnYourBra: Well, this didn't happen at the last tournament I went to. Honestly, this has probably been occurring for almost a year now and just recently I've decided to address it. There seems to be an attitude in the fighting game community that I've been noticing lately.

DMG|jason24cf: And that is?

DMG|BurnYourBra: At tournaments players talk [crap] to each other. That's just the way tournaments are. People get hyped. Players get salty when they lose, which is fine. But there is a difference between trash talking and calling other players disrespectful names. For me, I've been called a dyke, a butch, a slut, a bitch... I was even called a black bitch to my face along with being called a lesbian, a gorilla, and a monkey. Now I know people are going to say that as a player in the community, you have to have a thick skin. I do, but that doesn't mean that I won't speak up about the names I've been called. Because these names refer to my sex, but most of them refer to my race; which to me is racist. I think some of these people are blurring the lines between trash talk and disrespectful trash talk. And again, this is just my experience on the matter. I don't know if anyone else has had this experience. So I wrote a note on my Facebook, made it private, and got the opinions of several other black female gamers. They all have had somewhat the same type of experience as I, some have seen it and others have heard of it.

DMG|jason24cf: You would think times have changed but it seems like it’s still all the same.

DMG|BurnYourBra: YOU WOULD THINK, right? *Laughs* But, I guess not.

DMG|jason24cf: I can understand outsiders with name calling because they are not down with the fighting game community, but having your peers call you this is just plain wrong.

DMG|BurnYourBra: Yes it is, especially after a tournament match. And the thing is that it shocked me to the point that I didn't even reply. I beat this guy 2-0 and instead of a handshake and "good games" it was, "black bitch." I'm not saying that every player is like this but I think some people need to think before they speak or don't speak at all. If I was younger I would have probably knocked him the [heck] out but that's not why I'm there. I'm there to play, to gain the experience. I'm there to learn and I shouldn't have to worry about being disrespected in that manner.

DMG|jason24cf: So I'm pretty sure you have heard a lot of heckling while you compete.

DMG|BurnYourBra: Let's just say I've heard enough, *laughs*. But, I know I will continue to hear rude comments. That's just how it is unfortunately. I just want people to understand that there is a difference between trash talking and being an asshole.

DMG|jason24cf: Very true, I can understand being salty after losing but saying some of the things you heard are not called for. That said how long have you been competing and has this always been an issue?

DMG|BurnYourBra: I've been competing on and off for a little over 10 years now in different games. In the beginning I wasn't really that known and I was okay with that fact because I looked at video games as more of a hobby and something fun to do. The scene where I was born and raised at was really tolerant and I knew and still know a lot of the players from there.

DMG|jason24cf: Another topic you had mentioned in your post was about "not having the look" could you go into that further?

DMG|BurnYourBra: I would love to *laughs*. Well, I don't feel that it was like this 10 years ago but there is what I call an “Asian Aesthetic” (as in meaning beautiful) in the fighting game community. There is almost an invisible rule in the way male gamers see female gamers in terms of looks. I've read and I have come across a lot of individuals who think because a certain person or persons are of Asian descent that they're automatically good. Now, I will admit, Japanese players are really good, that can't be denied. But when it comes in terms of females, it feels to me like it's almost a written rule that if you aren't Asian, and if you don't have the look that fits into this beauty hierarchy, then you're just not good. So, for me, I feel like it's a double standard that I really can't fight. I'm not Asian and I don't have the Asian Aesthetic look. I’m an African American female, so I am looked at as trash by some people. Also, it is a male dominated community, I know of a few girls who have told me they don't have "the look" or “don't fit that ideal.” This ideal shouldn't be used as a rule for females who want to play. So for me, and this is my own personal experience again, I want to be judged by my play. You can say that I suck. And I'm fine with that. But when you base it on my looks then that's when I have a problem. I'm not there to please the males at the tournament with looks. I'm there to play and to get better. Judge me on my play rather than on my looks.

DMG|jason24cf: Do you feel any kind of resentment towards those standards mentioned?

DMG|BurnYourBra: I do at times. For example, at EVO I went around asking for help from other top players. I didn't want anyone to hold my hand. I was just looking for players who were better than me to play against because I believe it'll only make you better as a player. That Saturday during the female tourney, guys were cheering against me. Now, that wouldn't really bug me so much but what I noticed after the fact was that every female I played against was Asian when I heard the chatter the loudest. Now I don’t know really what that was about but I can only assume. No one helped me when I went around and asked for help, so I had to wing it on my own. But months after EVO, I get people telling me they, “would have helped me.” Some of these people were the same people who didn't have the time to help me at EVO. So what's so difference now after the tournament that you couldn't help me before? That was the question I asked myself that bugs me the most.

DMG|jason24cf: Now the EVO you mentioned is the EVO were you placed 2nd in the female tournament, correct?

DMG|BurnYourBra: Yes.

DMG|jason24cf: Do you have any ill feelings toward the player who placed first?

DMG|BurnYourBra: No! Actually Kayane and I talked during and after EVO we even talk on Facebook till this day. I have nothing against her. She's just like me, trying to learn the game and doing her best to get good at it. I didn't like the atmosphere surrounding the tournament, though. I didn't like the favoritism but I guess it was expected. I really didn't like the group of guys standing off the stage when once they saw that I was going to play Kayane, they immediately began telling her about things I do when I play. Those players are the same players I asked for help during the tournament who refused to assist me. Instead they gave me some cheap excuse on why “they couldnt help me at the moment,” but instead they are helping my opponent. In a twist of fate I now am the one who gets coached before a match “smiling and confused” since then players want to help me more now than before. Looking back on that day's atmosphere I would say it was really bad. I guess I wasn't used to it because I've never been in the spotlight like that before. My reaction was to not care about it when I got onstage, it was more about having fun, and then to leave and go back to the way things were. But it'll never go back to the way things were. To me it was one of the worst moments I experienced but I think it's made me stronger in some ways.

DMG|jason24cf: Now we have played against one another many nights, and I always say "your one of the best SF players around" I don’t say your "USA best female player” because you place top 10 in tournaments against men so I view you as a player and not by a title of "Best Female player". How do you feel about the whole "best USA female player" title?

DMG|BurnYourBra: It's a stupid title, I never once said that “I was the best female USA player,” but it's been somewhat pushed on me, which drives these snakes from their burrows. I've been challenged by many female players, there is one in particular who pretty much lied about our casual matches, and she goes on telling everyone she's the real #1 and people need to stop calling me the “best USA female player” and that she'll see me at EVO 2011 *laughs*. I find the way people want to gain fame to their name to be rather entertaining. The title means nothing to me. But I guess the bright side of it is that it has brought out more females to start playing as well as to get better. Many of them I have played before and they all want to beat me because of that title. By all means you can have it. Again I don't go around saying I'm the #1 female SSF4 player in America. Again, it means nothing to me and it's nothing to brag about. I look at a female opponent is just like a male opponent. It’s an opponent any way you look at it.

DMG|jason24cf: And I have seen more female players playing and this is great thing to have more females gamers playing because they too have the same passion as male players. It should really be all about the competition and not the gender.

DMG|BurnYourBra: Yes, I like as well. Some females just need that push to get out there and compete, some are just afraid because they don't have the look or they don't think they're good enough. I tell them, “Everyone starts somewhere. No one is automatically born good at this game. It takes time to practice and dedication.” Females can have that drive, just like male players do. I mentioned this in another interview before; I had no one around to push me to play. I play because I wanted to. I loved fighting games. I love playing games in general. I don't wait around for guys to tell you what to do. Sometimes you have to make that leap yourself and go jump in there and get your hands dirty, get your ass handed to you, and learn.

DMG|jason24cf: Are there things you think that can be done that can better the fighting game community?

DMG|BurnYourBra: “Respect” is the strongest word that comes to mind. Respect your fellow player. Remember, they are human just like you. They [mess] up, just like you. They're learning, just like you. They might not be on "your level" but that doesn't mean they aren't worth the time.

DMG|jason24cf: That I feel is a big problem in the fighting game community, I get a lot messages on XBL or PSN saying, "You're a scrub, why are on DMG?" and things of that nature but I still on the other hand to be fair I also get a few “GGs” or your “Fei Long is really strong.”

DMG|BurnYourBra: Your Fei Long is strong! And what I like about you is that when we play and I think you're becoming frustrated you still keep playing and you try to figure out what you can do, instead of just giving up. It's something I need to work on myself. But online play is something else in its self *laughs*. I don't go on ranked matches at all anymore, unless I'm on my other account. It's like people think every match is a tournament when you're playing, which it's not. I haven't got any of the, "Why are you in DMG?" said to me online directly but some people have spoke their mind to me about it without really mentioning "DMG" which is fine. When I [mess] up in a match I wonder that myself too *laughs*. But now that I think about it, I have got a few. I should've recorded some of the messages I got in the past. Some of them were downright ridiculous, stupid, and some of the pictures sent to me were porno kind of pics *laughs*. But I guess that's what trolls and haters do.

DMG|jason24cf: I respect that you have so many obstacles in front of you that can easily break someone's will. You instead keep moving forward and that is an accomplishment in itself.

DMG|BurnYourBra: Thank you, and again, this is just my personal experiences. I'm not saying what I'm going through is the norm for every female that plays. This is just what I experienced and sometimes I leave the venue wondering why I'm even doing this at all. What people don't know about me is that I don’t sit in front of my Xbox and play for hours upon hours anymore. I have a life outside Street Fighter. I go to school, I write novels, and I have a huge garden in the backyard that I love to maintain. So this isn't a job for me but it is one priority that I have. If that makes sense?

DMG|jason24cf: Same goes for me. I want to play as many hours as I can to get stronger as a player but just like you I have a life outside of Street Fighter. I have a job, a family with two kids, so I understand where you’re coming from.

DMG|BurnYourBra: Yeah, and family is more important. An education in these dire times is more important. It's almost a necessity *laughs*. In the end we both play because we enjoy the game and we love to compete.

DMG|jason24cf: What are some fighting game community goals you have for yourself this year?

DMG|BurnYourBra: Well, besides getting better at SF and playing Arcade Edition, one of my goals was to get back into the Vs. games since Marvel vs. Capcom 1 was the last one I played and really liked. But I'm so-so about Marvel vs. Capcom 3, so I've turned my attention over to Mortal Kombat. I tried the demo, and I liked it, so I'm going to pick it up when it comes out and see if it's something worth competing in. I'm also looking at getting into Skullgirls and Street Fighter X Tekken when that comes out... maybe? As for majors... I'm going to CEO with my other DMG members, I'm hoping to make Top 36 (depending on how many people enter) Of course, I'll be at EVO so I hope I can make it close to making it out of the bracket. I don't think I will honestly make it out of my bracket but one can hope, right :-) Oh and I almost forgot about ECT3. Rico told me to go last year but I didn't so hopefully this year I can make it, but I don’t know yet.

DMG|jason24cf: Well as long as you put forward your best effort in all those events then you can walk away with no regrets.

DMG|BurnYourBra Yeah, that's the way I look at it as well. I usually have a goal and I try to make that goal. It has to be a realistic goal for me anyways.

DMG|jason24cf: I know you’re a busy person and all so I won't take up anymore of your time, do you have any final words or shout outs?

DMG|BurnYourBra: Shout outs to Jaleel and FocusAttackcom. He's doing a lot for the community and sometimes I feel he goes unnoticed. Plus he always gives me words of encouragement so thanks Jaleel! The Traveling Circus for sponsoring and believing in DMG and other gamers like Tokido, GamerBee and Toxy. They're really helping out the community as well. Also EventHubs.com for believing in us. And to all DMG players, thanks for actually helping me level up and not taking it easy on me. Also, to my boyfriend Al for being my eyes and ears as well holding my fight stick at tournaments. Lastly, thank you Jason for all your hard work you do for DMG and for going out of your way to help DMG get stronger. THANK YOU!

DMG|jason24cf: I want to thank BurnYourBra once again for this interview. I want to send a shout-out to all the female gamers around, a few that I would like to thank are as follows: Ashley "The Faro" of EmpireStategamer.com, April Martin for paybackgames.com, Candace of PDP, Kanaye and of course BurnYourBra. Stay tunned for more interviews here on Eventhubs.com as well as follow me on Twitter @jason24cf.

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