Not only do we need to learn to lithely mitigate the barrage of whatever is thrown at us in our virtual worlds, but we can also sometimes avoid being the target at all by having a respectable in-game arsenal. Girls, we need to arm ourselves!*
Literal weapons and other in-game gear are a part of being well-armed in an MMO. It's less likely that people will be condescending to a female player that has gear that is as good -- or better than -- theirs. It's also easier to not be phased by occasional ass-hattery and chauvinism when you're decked out in high-end stuff. So, let's run the content and get the goods!
Another -- and even more important -- way that we need to arm ourselves in-game is knowledge and skill.
When I say that women need in-game knowledge, I'm not just talking about knowing which NPC is named "Jenny Greentoes" or when the next festival starts. I'm talking about the following:
- Have general knowledge that affects game-play. Know what virtues we should trait for various fights, what buffs we want, and what consumables are most useful. Be prepared to answer questions for other players when they arise, too. Why? Out of helpfulness, sure, but also because it makes us look good! Example (thanks, Palin!) general knowledge question: "Are there other places than a skirmish barterer to get Greater Scrolls of Delving?" Answer: "Yes. You can also buy them with TP through the store OR spend over 6,000 shards on them at a relic master."
- Know everything to do with our classes. Know all of our class skills, our class trait sets, and how virtues/stats affect our classes. Know our gear and be prepared to defend why we use each piece! Read the class/beta forums and stay informed about current issues and future changes.
- Have a basic understanding of the other classes. No one expects every player to be an expert of every single class in a game, especially those we don't play, but knowing other classes and how they affect us in a group, is essential for being a good group player... especially at end-game. Having at least a basic understanding of the other classes will also help us to be able to give advice and feedback to others. And helping people gains us respect.
- Learn some strategy! We need to know the fights we're going to be joining. Let's always go in with a basic idea of the strategy so our group leaders don't have to hold our hands. Have some basic foreknowledge of what is going to happen and how to handle it. For example, knowing what kind of debuff a boss lays down in an instance is not only good for success of the fight, but being able to answer these kind of specific questions when they arise -- much like understanding other classes -- can gain us respect.
Aside from being a knowledgeable player, let's also be prepared to back up that stored information with SKILL! Knowing that the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur puts a purple eye over our heads that will kill our fellows is good. Running to the designated spot on time and NOT killing our fellows is better!
Showing that we play as well as others will help chip away at the gender prejudice that we sometimes face, and hopefully we will someday be thought of as more than just "gamer girls" but also as equal and essential members of the gaming community. This isn't a female specific concept, by the way. ALL end-gamers in MMOs have to prove themselves worthy of being considered "good players."
By being geared, knowledgeable and skillful players we'll have a full arsenal to not only use in social combat, but to hopefully avoid ever even being the target when it arises.
*Most of my examples and information will be taken from LOTRO, since it is where I have the majority of my MMO experience. The basic advice can be applied to all MMOs**, however.
**"Hello Kitty Online" might be an exception.