The following post originally appear on United We Game, 31 July 2014.
I see you. Staring. Staring at me. You think I don’t notice? You’re right across from me on this train; you’re not invisible.
All I want to do is play Pokemon on my way to work in peace. Is it the tablet? The fact that I’m using the tablet like a game controller instead of for reading, which is what women are supposed to do with tablet-like things, right? Read? Read and not play games? Because women don’t play games?
Take a look around. Nearly everyone, men and women, on this train is looking down at their electronic devices, and I can guarantee you that the majority of them are playing something. Because we play games. I am not a novelty. We all play games.
My inner dialogue sure is cranky and biased today. But seriously, that guy had zero reason to sit and stare at me on the train this morning. And the thing is, I could tell he wasn’t staring at me but rather at my tablet. I mean, it is a very pretty thing and it’s in a bright yellow case, so obviously it’s joyfully distracting to the human eye. Maybe had was completely unaware of what he was doing. Maybe I should have moved to another seat. Maybe, maybe, maybe. The point is that my judgmentalism told me this morning that I was being judged…for using my tablet to play a game.
You say I’m paranoid? Well this isn’t the first time it’s happened. I can chalk up a little invasion of space on a train where the seats are close together, but ever since I started using my tablet to obviously play games (not read or tap or whatever it is women are supposed to be doing with such things), more than once have I been in a position seated across from someone, always a man who looks old enough to legally drink, who chooses to stare at (me and) my tablet as I’m playing. It’s uncomfortable and, in my mind, unwarranted.
Maybe if I was sitting there in a bikini or Big Bird costume, sure, I’d attract attention. But I’d be fully aware of that going in. Maybe it’d be something I’d welcome. But it’s just me, plain old me, in my work attire, bag on my lap, tablet in hand. Playing ten minutes of Pokemon before my stop. And what stinks is that the harder someone stares, the more self-conscious I get, particularly about my age. The stray gray hairs, glasses, and comfortable shoes suddenly make me feel like a senior citizen…a senior citizen who’s terribly worried about the state of her Charizard. It is because I’m an older person playing a game, is that it? Is that the novelty?
I’ve got news for you buddy. There’s a woman across the way who’s totally playing Candy Crush on her phone, and she’s obviously older than me, so just quit it, will ya?
I know that the moment I put the tablet away, the staring will cease. Suddenly then I’m not novel, I’m not a perceived “gamer,” I’m just a non-descript train passenger.
Oh wait… I get it…is it because I’m not a typical “gamer girl?” What even is a “gamer girl?” And why did you even make me conjure up that question? It’s not worth a single brain cell to answer. Or maybe you think I’m sitting here fiddling around with something I don’t understand or can’t comprehend. Is that harsh? You bet it is.
Okay look, I get that someone might just be curious, because they can’t see what I’m playing. Neither can I really tell what they’re thinking. But I’ve been around the block enough to know that I’m not one who typically get stares. So you can see that it’s only natural for me to deduce that it’s because of my tablet, because of the fact that it looks like I’m playing a game (which I am).
Well, I hope you enjoy staring at an empty seat, because this is my stop. Of course, I’ve already put my tablet away, and you’re no longer looking in my general direction. So who cares anyway, right? All I know is that I’ll be back this afternoon for my ride home. I’m going to take out my tablet and play Pokemon. Maybe I’ll get stared at and maybe I won’t, but I wish it wasn’t something I even had to think about. I’ve got more important things to do, like marauding the Pokemon Tower. Important.