By John So
“All sorts of faggots in this room!” said a random player
“Hey boys,” said Amy while griping on the Xbox 360 controller with one hand and securing her headset with microphone attachment with the other hand.
“Uh-oh! Oh my gosh, (laughter) a girl on modern warfare 2 she’s on my team. I’m going to teabag her,” said a random player
“Halo girls are cool but I don’t know about Modern Warfare girls.”
“Let’s see what you got sweetheart,” said Amy, sitting patiently after letting the men finish harassing her.
"Oh shit, you're in PMS?” said a random
“I’m the leader of the PMS clan,” said Amy
“I see, that’s cool I guess” said a random
“PMS sucks! Get ready to get owned baby!” said a random
“Bring it, sugar,” said Amy
Initial perceptions that many people have about video gamers is the typical computer geek staying up late hours pointing and clicking their way to victory while meeting up and interacting with similar individuals online. But over the last five decades video games have become more prominent and more advanced in today’s highly electronic and mobile society. According to the ESA (Entertainment and Software Association) as of 2009, 68% of American households play video games and the average age of gamers is 35 years old. Also the growing trend in female gamers has increased drastically as 40% of all players are women, and according to the Nintendo Corporation, women represent half of their user base as 51% play the Wii (the home gaming console for Nintendo) and 53% play the DS (the current portable gaming console for Nintendo). Among these female gamers there are a select few who ultimately seek to gain more then just playing a video game, but to compete and play against other highly skilled players all across the world.
Professional Video Gaming is a worldwide common practice that has blown up in such countries like South Korea, Europe, and here in the U.S and these groups gather together and play against other teams at big competitions such as WSG (World Series of Gaming) and MLG (Major League Gaming) in order to gain respect and notoriety among the professional gaming community and gaming industry as well as receiving competition cash considerations and sponsorship bonuses. Among many of the gaming teams in the U.S. the PMS clan (current name Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers, originally name Psychotic Man Slayerz) is a highly skilled and elite group of female gamers who compete against other top contending male and female clans. However, the formation of the PMS clan started very innocently as the two co-founders the Brady twins Amber (aka Athena Twin PMS) and Amy (a.k.a. Athena PMS) wanted to create a team on Xbox live (an online service provided by Microsoft for owners of the Xbox gaming console) where they can compete and play against other teams, and on November 2002 the PMS Xbox team was formed. Creating an all female squad to compete against a heavily male dominated world was no easy task mainly because of the stigma that female gamers are inferior to male gamers and that they are incapable of achieving the same results as males, however, by proving that they are capable and at many times even better than most male gamers, they were able to rise up in the rankings, and recruit more players all across the globe and eventually in 2003 iPMS (international PMS team) was formed. “Normally about 30% of gamers recognize us because we have gained the respect within the competitive gaming world” said Amy Brady. The PMS clan has also had mainstream media attention, Amy Brady herself participates in many gaming competitions in Europe and Asia and she also appeared on the hit reality TV show the Ultimate Gamer season 1 on the Scifi network.*Amy Brady aka Athena PMS is a cast member on the show The Ultimate Gamer Season 1. 2m33s
Also there are several other perks that PMS clan members get to enjoy for example, free full access to some of the biggest gaming conventions in North America such as E3, Blizzcon, and Comic con to name a few, as well as television appearances on such hit TV stations such as G4 television and on major video game publications such as EGM magazine. But to gain these privileges and benefits is no easy task and to become a PMS clan member initially is very hard as newly recruited members are expected to practice long hours in their respective game types (i.e. FPS first person shooters, RTS real time strategy and etc.) ranging from around 8 hours a day. Also all members must follow the codes of conduct that the PMS clan rightfully stands by. Some of these rules include zero tolerance of profanity, harassment and inappropriate behavior.
Amy Brady aka Athena PMS chooses her loadout before the match starts, equipping a fully automatic M16 rifle with a red dot scope, and dual pistols as her secondary firearms with a handful of flashbangs and frag grenades. The match begins and she sprints her character quickly across the large snowy map known as Derail. Right from the start gunshots erupt out of the home theater speakers. Chatter among players dub over the frantic chaos. “I got shot down near the stairs” said one random player, Athena hearing the call quickly moves the joysticks on the controller to make her character change directions and moves towards the stairs. With the press of the left trigger button in an instant a flashbang lights up the room and Athena rushes in and stabs her opponent, 1 kill within 1 minute of the game.
Kathy Bader and Jill Satterlee sit and watch Athena play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, which is a first person shooter set in the modern era with the most up to the date military weapons and gadgets available to players once they boot up the game. Considered by many as one of the most intense multiplayer online video games and one of the more common video games played at video game competitions, many individuals put countless hours of playing time to have the necessary knowledge on all the maps and weapons in order to become an elite player, luckily for Amy she specializes in Modern Warfare 2. But there are several different games that other PMS clan members play and specialize in for example, WOW (World of Warcraft), Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six games, and several others. “Within PMS there are different divisions that all the girls specialize in” said Amy. Normally because members have to practice for about 8 hours they tend to be recognized very quickly within the online gaming community due to their tag (clan name).
Shortly after her first kill Athena runs up the stairs to find a squad of the opposing team. Similar to her first kill her character throws another flashbang in the room, then she charges her character in and bursts fires with her rifle. Tatata…tatata…tatata! With deadly accuracy and efficiency from a clip of 30 bullets she only uses 9 bullets in total and with that she scores 3 additional kills. Athena PMS is on top of the scoreboard for her team.
As the three women were watching and playing Modern Warfare 2 they began to discuss about future events that they should arrange for the PMS clan’s 10 year anniversary. Kathy “Raven” Bader who’s house we were at, located in Vista California in an hillside large 2 story house, proposes that they should try to arrange something extravagant and exciting for their celebration.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT US:
Vista California is picturesque in that it is an ideal place to raise a family. Only a couple miles away from the ocean as well as San Diego California it allows parents to raise their families in a secluded surrounding of mountain and hills also the mild cool winds and sunny beautiful weather radiates homeliness. Houses scatter all over and the majority of the houses are 2 stories or bigger.
Being a mother of 2 girls ages 3 and 6, Kathy finds time to cater to her family all while maintaining her status as one of the elite players within the PMS clan by putting in hours into her World of Warcraft account or her Xbox live account whenever she has free time or when her children are asleep. Kathy joined PMS during its infancy and became best friends with Amy after she met her in person. “It’s funny because before we met each other I didn’t really like her, and it was also funny that our only interaction with another was through Xbox live. I just probably had this hostility towards her because I felt really competitive believing that I was the best. But once I met her in person we just clicked and now we’re the best of friends. Same with Storm here.
Jill “Storm” Satterlee like Kathy is also married, but has no children and initially lived in Michigan however, she decided to move to California about a year ago, and since she moved she has been in contact with Kathy and Amy consistently even doing Kenpo X from the P90X workout routine with Kathy from day to day. Jill’s husband is also an avid gamer and they both enjoy playing and discussing video games, to the point where Jill will even phone her husband to ask him which latest video game trailer they both watched online together weeks prior.
The match comes to an end after 5 minutes and Athena’s team wins, she places in 4th place on her team with a total of 17 kills.
After Athena completes her game she puts the controller down and takes off her headset and explains that she cannot stay any longer because of previous plans that she had already made and so Kathy and Jill both say their goodbyes and Amy leaves.
“I guess it’s my turn to play,” said Jill. Jill puts on the headset and begins filtering through menus finding other PMS clan members who are online playing Modern Warfare 2. She sends a message to PMS tempest and asks her to invite whoever else she is playing with. Tempest brings in PMS lollicake and H20 fa7al into the lobby (H20 is an expanded branch of PMS, mainly targeted for males to be apart of the PMS family under the H20 clan name). Once together they begin a match against an opposing clan. Domination (a form of capturing the point and team deathmatch) on the map Invasion; a destroyed town littered with cars on fire and broken down buildings; Storm prepares her weapons loadout.
There are hundreds of PMS clan members all over the world and with the tag comes notoriety and respect. But because there are so many members that only interact with one another through online gaming sessions many members do not necessarily know each other personally. However, online gaming has created in itself its own universe where random people can log in and play with people instantly and through their common interests in video games many people are able to create virtual bonds and friendships. Online gaming has truly revolutionize the gaming industry as it has now created this once self practiced hobby into an actual social networking medium.
The game starts, and from the beginning Storm begins conducting strategies with her fellow PMS and H20 clan members via through her headset. Within minutes Storm and her teammates overrun the opposing team, moving at lightning speed to each capture point all while killing each of the enemies. Storm gets shot from behind, “I’m down near the ally between the cars” said Storm.
“Most female gamers will call out positions of their enemies or where they died at because winning is the most important thing and that communication is the key to winning” said Kathy. While playing an unknown voice comes through the speakers. A little girl randomly joined into the match and ended up being on the PMS team, “Wow your PMS that so cool!” Kathy then says, “I get excited playing with girls who aren’t part of the PMS clan because they always want to add us to our friends list and prove to us that they are good. And more often than not they know of the PMS clan and they want to join, and so once they add us they will try to ask if they can join and we message the on the clan website and give them advice”
WHEN IS IT ENOUGH?:
More and more gamers are being introduced to gaming when they are young, and they are often introduced to it by friends, siblings, and parents. But as gaming has become a cultural phenomenon and a social norm, the dark sides to gaming have also become more relevant as younger gamers can become addicted to playing games and are also targeted by dangerous individuals. Kathy explains that her niece tends to overplay and has become introverted and socially awkward. “My niece looks up to us a lot and she really likes what we do but I’m worried about her because she is introverted and all she does is play games on weekends, I’m surprised that she’s not on right now but she is not very socially outgoing like me on the other hand. She is surprised at how I met all my friends and even though she knows most of my friends she is still kind of timid.” Although video games have created a fun way for individuals to spend their free time in the comfort of their own homes, some have taken this to a new level where cases of depression, insomnia, and ultimately suicide become a reality to those who commit their lives to the virtual world. Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist MD Kourosh Dini, explains in his book “Video Game Play and Addiction” that cases of addiction through video games is a growing concern (mainly through acts of violence) but he also gives alternatives on how to treat the problem in its early stages and how video games can help educate people as well. But because of problems like addiction and violence, video games have received much negative media attention, as many people try to emphasize that video games is the main reason for today’s violence and problems within society. But for female gamers they are at a greater risk mainly because on top of the possibility of becoming addicted to playing games they are also targeted by sexual predators who mainly go online to talk to female gamers and either sexual harass them or in the worst case try to get any sort of personal information about them.
THE LAST RUN:
10 minutes have gone by in the match and Storm’s team is winning 110 to 35. Although Storm is in 4th place on her team with only 30 kills she has contributed to her team with valuable information on enemy positions and precision timing with her recovering fire. Storm rushes into the next capture point but standing before her are 3 opposing team members, quickly she reacts. Throwing a smoke grenade she then makes her character go to a prone position and within seconds she takes out all three enemies, “secured the capture point” said Jill.
“Most male gamers get really pissed off when they are getting their asses handed to them by a girl” said Kathy. In this male dominated profession, it is really hard for many male gamers to even comprehend being handed a loss, but when a female gamer defeats a male gamer it becomes even a greater shame. Many male gamers tend to believe that female gamers are not skilled enough to compete against them and this sexist approach has also contributed to many males verbally abusing female players. Sexually taunting females is a very prominent form of abuse, “Lot’s of guys will say some really stupid things and they’ll also say things like girls suck and stuff. But normally for me I try to ignore it and let my play do the talking,” said Kathy.
The match finally ends with a PMS victory 200 to 95. Shortly after the match ended the opposing team immediately leaves the lobby. Jill finally takes off her headset and sets the controller down, “well I think that was good”. Kathy begins cleaning up the house preparing for a family get together that she is throwing at 5pm. “What you saw today was just the tip of the ice berg, normally we get a lot more competitive and will be yelling and stuff” said Kathy. “Today was just leisure play,” said Jill while laughing. “I just hope you saw that we really take this seriously, its not just a game for us its more then that. Gaming really is an amazing thing, it brought me together with Jill and Amy and I am so thankful for that” said Kathy. As I began to pack my things up Jill and Kathy both again begin repeating the idea that PMS clan is a safe place for female gamers to come and play video games, but really with the growing popularity of video games and female gamers on the rise it just seems inevitable that the tag of female gamer will disappear and just the name gamer will be uniform for everyone who shares the same passion for games.
5 hours with group
4 hours of data gathering
1 hour worth of phone conversation with Kathy
Consistent contact with Kathy and Amy through email