Kim explains what happened when she and Phil went to Meltdown London one evening, and why one particular pub-goer has ended up in an article.
We don’t spend all of our time gaming and can actually be a sociable bunch occasionally; for example, Phil and I were due to meet some friends after work for a drink last Thursday. But seeing as we both finished early and had an hour or two to kill beforehand, we thought we’d head to Meltdown London first to get our video game fix.
Since coming across this place during May last year, various members of the 1001-Up.com team have visited on a number of occasions. In fact, it’s where we met Ben for the first time! Based in King’s Cross in London, it’s part of a franchise founded by Starcraft 2 commentator and reporter Sophia Metz and claims to be the first eSports bar in the city. The interest in this area of gaming is growing all the time both as an occupation for professional players and as a form of entertainment, so what better way to celebrate it than in a dedicated pub with a drink or two.
There were mixed feelings from commenters When various websites starting writing about the venue, including Dynasty2021 who wrote on Eurogamer’s thread: “Where no woman will ever set foot.” But I have to say he has been proven wrong: the place has been pretty busy, particularly on Friday nights, with several women in attendance including myself. The pub has a nice vibe, you can always get a space on the Xbox (excellent for Street Fighter addicts like me), and we’ve had the opportunity to chat to some lovely people there.
But unfortunately, last Thursday proved that to not always be the case.
Our game was interrupted by a guy sitting at the bar, whose gems of wisdom were so priceless that I’d like to share them.
Phil and I sat down at our usual spot, drinks in one hand and controllers in the other, but unfortunately our game was interrupted by a guy sitting at the bar. The place wasn’t particularly busy as it was a very early on a Thursday evening – perhaps eight people in total – so it was pretty easy to overhear his conversation despite not intentionally trying to. He ended up in discussion with the two barmen and another patron, and some of his gems of wisdom were so priceless that I’d like to share them with you.
He started by declaring that all women only like ‘w*****s’ and none will ever be completely honest with a man. Personally I’d like to dispute this. Yes, it’s probably true that many females like the thrill of the chase and want someone who challenges them; but to say that we’re deliberately on the lookout for someone who’ll treat us badly in a relationship seems a little harsh. Add to that the fact that ‘people are people’, and unfortunately everyone is going to lie to everyone else at some point in their lives – regardless of their gender.
Next up were his own encounters with women. I’m not sure which I found worse: the fact that he left a girl in the middle of a party while she was crying after sharing details of the trouble in her life; or the fact that he slept with another, then slept with her friend, then took them both out to dinner and hoped for ‘an ex-girlfriend sandwich’. First he complains that women only ever go for the bad boys and he loses out because he always tries to treat them well; then he admits that he’s actually one of these w*****s he was referring to in the first place!
Then we heard enlightening tales of his experiences with narcotics. Because surely someone who has ‘probably taken every party drug out there without injecting’ will have something valuable to teach us all? Seriously, if you’re complaining about never meeting the right girl and not being sure about ‘how you get yourself into these situations’, the reason this could keep happening to you is because you’re hanging out at raves and getting completely wasted. I’m not saying that nice women don’t attend such events; but if that’s not the sort of partner you’re looking for, then maybe you’re going to the wrong places.
When he moved onto to the topics of ‘feminism’ and ‘wifely duties’ after forty minutes, we decided to leave the pub. As this guy actually said himself, tact really wasn’t his strong point.
As I mentioned earlier, Meltdown wasn’t particularly busy at that time in the evening; the guy in question was talking very loudly (I could even hear him whilst in the washroom in the basement); and we weren’t intentionally listening to his conversation. But it was a little hard not to pick up on, and the subject matter made me feel pretty uncomfortable. When someone makes sweeping statements about women and you’re the only female in the room at the time, it’s hard not to feel as if you’re being singled out! His voice was so loud that it was almost as if he wanted to get my attention – I was sitting only four metres or so away – but if it was a way of getting a reaction or opinion, then he should have just come over and asked.
I probably won’t be so quick to grab a controller and draw attention to myself next time.
So why am I writing about this when it has almost nothing to do with gaming? Well, there are two reasons mainly. Firstly, Meltdown had always previously been a place where I felt comfortable. There was never any awkwardness because I was in the gender minority or that feeling of being regarded as a typical ‘girl gamer’; it was simply a place where gamers of all types could get together over a common interest. But the next time I’m there it’ll be hard not to feel as if I’m an outsider and, although I hate to say it, I probably won’t be so quick to grab a controller and draw attention to myself.
Secondly, people like that guy at the bar on Thursday make it easy for others to see gamers in the wrong light. There have been so many negative stories in the past year; floods of comments on websites across the internet about the harassment of female gamers, how women are being portrayed in new releases and sexism in the gaming industry. Walking into an eSports bar and overhearing the conversation like that one last week would have been enough to reinforce the image that male gamers can be pretty hostile and close-minded at times.
I know I’m ranting but please don’t get me wrong: I’m in no way saying that this was any fault of Meltdown’s. In the past I’ve been served by both of the barmen this guy was talking to and they’ve been lovely, and I didn’t expect them to stop his conversation last Thursday. But the key to being a good barman is being aware of your punters, and I’m pretty certain they must have noticed my sideways glances and general uncomfortableness. It would have been nice if they had helped steer the discussion towards a different topic, rather than joining in with it.
So why didn’t I offer that guy my opinion or simply ask him if he’d mind changing the subject? Well, there were a few reasons:
And besides those reasons, I have a website. You didn’t think I pulled a pad and pen out of my bag to make notes for no reason, did you?