read a pretty appalling article on Gizmodo last week about an OkCupid
match gone wrong. Just so everyone's on the same page, you can read it
here. It sparked a little fire in my blood, so, as I do when I want to
discuss something with my friends, I posted it on Facebook. Alarmingly,
a few of my friends were of a similar mind; learning that someone plays
Magic: The Gathering, World of Warcraft, or White Wolf is an immediate
turn-off. "It's the female mind - we don't like hearing that our
potential life partner and father to our children is playing games at
30... Casting spells and shit ain't gonna get you groceries at
Wal-Mart." The underlying idea, and what my friends actually took issue
with, was the idea of someone playing games to the exclusion of their
everyday lives and duties. I’m alarmed that they immediately jump to
this assumption about someone who plays Magic: The Gathering with no
other information. My simple plea today is this: gamers and non-gamers
alike, please stop judging people based solely on the games they play.
disclosure: I am an avid gamer. I have been playing games for more
than 15 years and I dabble in a little bit of everything out there, with
the exception of LARPing, from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to Final Fantasy XIII to Super Mario Galaxy.
I have a room full of old video games and shelves full of newer video
games. In my living room there is a Wii, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and
Playstation 2. I have a Playstation Portable and a Nintendo DS. In my
youth I played and collected four or five different trading card games
and Warhammer 40,000. I still have the 40K models in my closet. I play
games, I talk about games, and I write about games.
blasting Alyssa Bereznak is not my point with this piece. It's a much
broader problem than just one person. What aggravated me was that all
the evidence she needed to know that she did not want to know this man
was his gaming habit. And a very brief mention of his first-date choice
of a one-man show about Jeffrey Dahmer, which probably would have been a
better focus for her article about him being creepy. This, combined
with what my friends had to say on the subject, recalled all of the
negative stigma that surrounds video games even today despite it's
widespread, mainstream appeal.
standard gamer stereotype is the flabby, pasty, virginal loser living
in his mother's basement. And it is always "him"; it's always male.
This stereotype persists to this day and is associated with pen &
paper or tabletop gamers. With the rise of the MMO, that particular
stereotype made a strong resurgence with the added trait of addiction.
The vision of a slovenly male with no social skills, sitting in front of a computer playing
WoW for days on end, ignoring any personal hygiene is damn near ingrained in the public conscience these days. And
later, the rise of Facebook gaming transferred this negative stigma to
the female population and molded the stereotype to the insipid, bored
housewife who should be doing something better with her time, like
caring for her infant.
worse is the fact that these stereotypes are often thrown around by
other gamers. It has reached a point where one gamer decries another as
"not a true gamer" because they don't play the same kinds of games.
"All you play is Peggle and Bejeweled, you're just a casual
gamer." Most recently, this particular trend has reared it's ugly head
in the newly classified "dude-bro gamers"; envisioned as a drunken frat
boy playing a Halo or Modern Warfare game. And it continues far deeper
than that. A video gamer will look down on a LARPer or D&D gamer
as socially retarded and beneath them. An action/shooter gamer will
look down on an RPG gamer. An old-school gamer will look down on the
new generation who doesn't like the pixelated graphics of yesteryear. A
jack-of-all-trades gamer will look down on anyone who only likes one
genre. It needs to stop. It is harmful to the gaming community and
damages the reputation of gaming as a hobby. Frankly, it’s
embarrassing. Everyone needs to grow up and stop trying to place
yourself in a class above everyone else. I should think that a group of
people often labeled as nerds, geeks, or losers wouldn’t be so quick to
start labeling and mocking another group of people.
So, to reiterate and end this, I’m calling out every gamer, whether you play Bejeweled, Magic: The Gathering, or Halo:
stop discriminating. Stop hating. Let’s just play our games and be
happy. And to the folk who don’t play games, please don’t judge us.
We’re not all weirdos and creeps. Get to know more than one of our
hobbies before you make that judgement.