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A Thousand Skins

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There are some things in the world that just don’t change. Dai Yanqi hopes that her love for Glory isn’t one of them. She’s changed nearly everything in her life to reach the top, to become one of the reigning Gods of Glory despite the inherent bias against girl gamers, and she is all the better for it but -

It grates to see the comments in chats about how ‘How come girls are so rare in Esports! It’s really unfair!’ and the complaints about Blue Rain being a monastery.

It grates to see girls mocked for playing computer games by their male counterparts, patronized by them for their interests, pushed aside in favor of less talented buffoons with flimsy excuses of guys having faster hand speeds. It grates to see them phase out of video games, never to be heard from again.

She wants to rage at how unfair it is. In China playing video games isn’t exactly a socially acceptable thing to do, and the environment for girl gamers is toxic. Though Dai Yanqi’s done her best - she’s stood up for herself and others, she’s spoken out in chats about this issue - there are only two answers she’s ever received, and she’s not sure which one she hates more.

“It’s just a game. Why are you so upset?”

“Are you on your period?”

And now the years have worn her down. She’s not even sure she’d be able to recognize herself in the mirror if she was five years younger.

Now, she’s a captain with a Championship and a Final under her belt and the hard-won confidence of someone who knows they’re the best. Dai Yanqi knows that she’s going to go down into Glory as the First Tactician, The Phoenix. But at the same time, she feels an itch under her skin that she can never get rid of, the one that whispers into her ear that she’s selfish for not telling the world she’s a girl.

Dai Yanqi has seen too many players break under the strain of this terrible world she lives in. She doesn’t want to become one of them.

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The roar of the crowd shocks Chu Yunxiu out of her stupor, nearly deafening her with the force of their cheers. If anybody had told her she’d be standing on a national stage for video games four years ago, she’d have laughed in their faces.

Growing up, she had been a natural at cooking and cleaning and as the middle child, she had needed every single edge to secure her position as the favorite, surpassing her siblings at everything they did. Eventually, her brothers had turned to the world of first-person shooters, MMORPGs, and Xboxes, certain that she wouldn’t follow them into the digital world of video games.

Unfortunately for them, Chu Yunxiu had taken to video games like a fish to water and quickly picked up the basics of every game they tried with ease. Eventually, her brothers got over their shock and video games became an activity that all of them bonded over, though they don’t play the same games anymore. Lifu enjoys Call of Duty, his hand speed not fast enough to compete against his younger siblings or play professionally, while Yijun alternates between League of Legends and the Final Fantasy series.

The thought of her brothers brings a smile to her face as Yunxiu walks down to the stage. They had been the ones to introduce her to Glory and had supported her throughout the game, first as her party members before transitioning into moral support and, on occasions, buffering her from the worst of the comments. The ones that had told her she was cruising on her brothers’ successes. That she couldn’t stand on her own because of her gender. Unfortunately, the ones she had read weren’t any better.

“You’re good - for a girl.”

Her gender had nothing to do with her skill in Glory. Why people had felt the need to link the two together had originally baffled her before she realized that it wasn’t just her who received these types of comments. Girl gamers, in general, all received criticism on how they played. You were either not interested enough or too obsessed because “It’s just a game”. Either too stubborn or too weak. Nothing seemed to satisfy the Court of Public Opinion.

Now she’s standing on her first stage, the last of the rookies to go against a veteran, and she knows nobody's expecting her to do anything interesting. Just a side female player that was probably hired for the growing commercialization of Glory. A normal, bland pro player.

None of those ideas are true, and it’s going to be Chu Yunxiu’s pleasure to disprove them.  

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