Lilian Chen, aka Milktea, grew up playing Super Smash Brothers Melee. But when her love of the game led her to compete in national tournaments, she noticed a big gender imbalance that brought with it a troubling social dynamic. In this TED-Ed Lesson, Lilian talks about her experiences with sexism in the Smash community and how she tries to raise awareness for this topic in a way that doesn’t shame male gamers. To learn more about Milktea’s experiences and the topic of gaming, read this article — and the interview below with Milktea, conducted at TEDYouth by teen gamer Isabel Yehya.
At TEDYouth, you talked about how the Smash community helped you find your voice and use it to combat the sexism you encountered. And I loved that you brought up sexism amongst girls. Can you say a little bit more about that?
I feel like a lot of people are quick to point fingers, but sexism is not just an issue amongst males. Everything is connected. For example, men feel sexism too. A lot of patriarchal beliefs just came from our culture, and the entire world is working to get over these things.
Do you see sexism within the actual video games?
I think there’s definitely a lot of innate sexism embedded within games. I don’t know if it’s deliberate or meant to be malicious, but it’s definitely there and you see that everywhere.
What do you think about “fake gamer girls” being bullied for liking a certain form of media?
A lot of girls get accused of being “fake gamer girls,” but I think that accusation is really toxic. There are a lot of guys who play very casually too, but because of their gender will never be accused of being a fraud. For them it’s just assumed that they like games.
It probably comes from just the unfortunate mindset that gaming is a boys’ club only. You see that in a lot of different communities — you see it in tech, you see it in science, in any areas that are initially male dominated. I hope we overcome that.
How do you think that mindset will change? At some point will it stop?
I’m really hopeful! Especially as people stand up and become more vocal on the issue. I’m optimistic that with enough explaining — and showing why certain things are not okay — we will move forward.