I already laid out some ground rules in my Xbox Live Etiquette article, and I think that it contains some solid general advice for everyone on Xbox Live. But this article is specifically geared towards helping female gamers have a better time on Xbox Live, so here are some additional tips.
For the Guys
First off, guys, when there is a gal in the room, just leave her alone! You don't need to harass her and ask her what she looks like and send her weird pictures and all of that crap. You can and will be banned from Xbox Live if you harass people too much, so just knock it off. Just because you can hide behind the veil of anonymity doesn't mean have the right to ruin the game for other people. Funny how scrawny nerds suddenly find some cojones and turn into super studs when they get online, isn't it?
For the Gals
Since most guys probably won't bother to pay attention to that paragraph, you ladies are going to have to take charge of how you are treated online.
- Use the Player Review Feature - The best thing you can possibly do is use the player review feature on Xbox Live. The whole point behind player reviews is so you can avoid people you don't want to play with again and prefer people you did enjoy playing with. If you take the time to do a player review on everyone that is bugging you, eventually you'll have nothing but a good group of people to play with. And if people are particularly nasty to you (inappropriate language/behavior, inappropriate use of the Vision cam during Uno, etc.) you can file a complaint about them and Microsoft really does pay attention to the complaints. It takes more than one complaint to get someone banned, obviously, but if they are harassing you they are probably harassing other people as well, so don't be afraid to file a complaint and try to get them banned. Xbox Live will be a lot better off without them.
- Don't Call Attention to Yourself - I know it isn't fair to have to change how you play and what you do online just to not be harassed, but until the little boys on Xbox Live decide to grow up the best way to not be harassed is probably to just not call attention to yourself. One thing in particular I see every time I play Halo 2 or 3 is that a girl will enter the lobby and make some grand proclamation that she is a female. Of course the guys start bugging her after that. If you just keep quiet no one is going to know or care you are a girl. If someone says something inappropriate, just ignore them. If you respond to it you are just baiting them to keep harassing you. Let you skills at the game do the talking for you and when you beat them they will have to respect you whether you are a girl or not.
- Play With Your Friends - The easiest way to avoid the jerks on Xbox Live is to simply not play with them. Skip matchmaking and find a group of friends to play with instead. Whether they are real life friends or people you meet online through one of the hundreds of gaming websites out there, playing with friends is always, always, always going to be more fun than playing with strangers through matchmaking.
Join the Gamerchix - Gamerchix is a women-only group that you can join on Xbox.com. It exists because of exactly what this article is talking about - the simple fact that guys are jerks to women online. So, rather than playing with guys, you can join the Gamerchix and play with serious female gamers just like you. Bottom Line
So here is the wrap-up. First, everyone should follow my Xbox Live Etiquette Tips. Second, leave the gals alone guys. It isn't like they are some magical unicorn that you are never going to see another one of. Third, gals, use the player review and file complaint features. They will help you weed out the jerks from the good guys. Fourth, don't go out of your way to show that you are a female. No one knows or cares until you make a grand proclamation of it, so if you don't want to be harassed keep it on the down low. Fifth, find friends to play with. Games are always more fun with people you know. Sixth, perhaps most importantly if you want to have a really good time on Xbox Live, join the Gamerchix. The group was created specifically for female gamers like you, and now has over 4,000 members in 30 countries. Take advantage of it.
If anyone has any additional tips or comments, please send me an e-mail or leave a comment on the blog post.