I consider myself a pretty social gal, and if someone brings up a game I will gladly talk about it as long as they'll let me. At the height of my Skyrim obsession, my friend Jess and I would text each other from our respective living rooms, describing the woes of whatever quest we were playing. I love watching other people play games. I love playing Elder Scrolls Online with Jack and have strongly considered buying my brother a copy so he can play with me if Jack is busy. But when it comes to gaming online? With strangers?? Count me out.
I think part of it comes from fear--of not being good enough even though I know I can sit those motherfuckers down, but also fear of being harassed. Although I have rarely personally experienced misogyny in the gaming world, I've seen enough of it to know what goes on out there. The chat window that hovers in the background of ESO is filled with jokes about Your Mom being a dumpster for something I won't mention. The one direct message I received was someone asking me to take my clothes off. The simple solution would be to have my avatar be male, but no! I love creating badass female characters with ridiculously awesome girly-girl names that an eight year old might give her dolls. Case in point, the two characters I have right now are named Magicia Sorcerella and Bromeliada. I have a horse named Princess, and I am not ashamed. I also suspect that my expressed gender wouldn't stop people from saying weird shit.
Fear of sexism and being called a n00b are not the only things that keep me from wanting to engage in the social aspect of games. I am hopeless at text-based conversation, as anyone who has ever tried to Facebook message me knows. When I'm playing, I get to escape. I don't have to be witty, I don't have to be gracious, I don't have to be anything other than good at casting Mage's Fury IV.