Ever since the bizarre social backlash now known as #GamerGate first erupted in August, we’ve heard a lot of alarmist, entitled nonsense from self-described gamers who are pig-biting mad that so-called Social Justice Warriors and, you know, girls, are invading what is inevitably described as “our hobby.”
Thing is, guys, it’s not your hobby. At least it’s not only yours.
I don’t call myself a “gamer” – largely because so many of those who do embrace the label are such immature assholes – but, guess what, I play games too.
Indeed, as you can see from the picture above, I own more than 100 console games, some of which I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to. Over the years I’ve owned five different consoles – seven, if you count replacement consoles bought because I wore out the originals.
I first encountered video games in high school, playing Space Invaders in the basement of the University of Illinois student union. I wasn’t very good, and gravitated more to air hockey and pinball and other purely analog games instead. Still, by the end of the 80s I’d been bitten by the electronic game bug – starting with the bootleg version of Tetris I installed on my Mac in grad school to distract me from the tedium of actually working on my dissertation.
In other words, I’ve been playing games, off and on, for longer than many #GamerGaters have been alive.
But I’m sure many of these people wouldn’t consider me a “real” gamer at all. I’m not what you’d call hardcore. I’m basically a console gamer – I don’t even have Steam installed on my laptop. And I’m always little behind the time. I haven’t shelled out for an Xbox One or a Playstation 4. I didn’t beat Destiny ten hours after it was first released; hell, I probably won’t even pick it up for at least another six months or so when the price drops a bit. And I’m not a full-time gamer either. While I regularly get obsessed with certain games and play them to death, I also take breaks from gaming for months on end.
I also play a lot of the “casual” games that hardcore “gamer” types dismiss as not “real” games – addictive little timewasters like Bejeweled and Peggle and Candy Crush – as well as decidely un-hardcore games like Super Monkey Ball (which I played mostly for its billiards minigame) and Sega Bass Fishing. (That odd device in the picture of my game collection? A Dreamcast fishing controller.)
And while I play a lot of shooters – as you’ll see if you look closely at the picture of my collection – I often play on the easy setting, and I never play multiplayer at all. My favorite games tend to be those that give me the option to goof off for hours on end. I don’t even want to imagine how much time I’ve spent in the various Grand Theft Auto game universes, driving off cliffs on “taxi missions” gone wrong and generally causing trouble. (It would be nice if these games were less blatantly sexist, but Rockstar sure as hell knows how to design compellingly immersive open worlds.)
So, yeah, I’m pretty far from hardcore. But, you know what, angry gamebros? This is my hobby as much as it is yours. I may not fit your gamer stereotype, but I play games too, and the money I spend on gaming is as green as yours.
And there are a lot of us out here – game players who look a lot different from the angry gamers now ranting about evil Social Justice Warriors trying to destroy their supposedly male preserve. Hell, the comments section of this blog if full of them, many of them aficionados of RPGs and obscure interesting indie titles I’ve never heard of.
Newsflash: It is not YOUR hobby, OR the hobby of your hapless diversity-hating gamebros. The individuals who want to see games evolve beyond depictions of harmful cultural stereotypes and tired sexist tropes also, wait for it, Play. Games. I play games. I am so excited by the recent footage released for FFXV that I could puke. You do not own them, and you do not speak for me.
Another commenter in the same thread noted that women have been playing video games from the beginning:
What I find so ridiculous is the fact that these guys act as though women playing/creating games is a new thing. I’m 3-freaking-6 years old. I’ve been gaming since the Atari 2600. I OWNED a copy of the ET game – yeah, that same one that most of those putzes only got to read about being discovered in a landfill in whereverthehell.
I’ve been a part of gaming allllll this time. Just because they didn’t want to recognize that or acknowledge my existence or the fact that I was right there, the entire time, playing in the WoW beta, playing in the Guild Wars beta, playing in the City of Heroes beta — that’s not my damn problem. They were the ones living in their own happy little penis-centric, he-man girl-gamer-haters club while I was over here, doing my own thing and having fun.
Their obliviousness is nobody’s fault but their own.
Buttercup Q. Skullpants added:
I’ve been gaming since the days of Pong, ELIZA, Merlin, Space Invaders, and Pac Man. Back then it was something both boys and girls did after school. It wasn’t seen as nerdy – in fact, the arcades were where the delinquent kids hung out.
It seems like today’s crop of misogynist gamers have their core identity way too wrapped up in being the coveted marketing demographic. They want to be pandered to and flattered with hypermasculine characters and alpha storylines.
It’s kind of hilarious that they’re treating this whole thing like it’s a RL video game, complete with black ops, sockpuppeting “missions”, evil shadowy enemies, rallying cries of threats to individual liberty, and an anything-goes mentality of inflicting maximum damage on opponents. Except the consequences of stalking and harassment are real, and permanent. In their imaginations they’re a group of beleaguered rebels taking a brave stand for freedom, but they’re actually the bad guys. They’re fighting against social justice and ruining a lot of people’s lives in the process.
It’s just a hobby, fercrissakes. I can’t imagine, say, model railroad enthusiasts getting all bent out of shape about more people taking up their hobby, and embarking on a hate campaign to define it as for old people ONLY. These guys really need to grow up and get some perspective.
Elsewhere in the thread, M. the Social Justice Ranger described her experience,
I haven’t been gaming for quite as long as some of the other women here, but I first picked up a keyboard in 1989 and a controller in 1990, so it’s certainly been a while. Sure, I prefer single-player to multiplayer, Nintendo to PlayStation or Xbox and platformers, RPGs, pet sims and puzzle games to shooters, but I do consider my hobby to be a large part of my identity, so other gamers are usually (not always, but usually) willing to count me as one of their own…
… Until they discover that not only have I committed the cardinal sin of being born with a vagina, but I’m only interested in others who’ve committed the same sin. Then all of that flies out the window for rape threat after rape threat after rape threat.
I don’t want to destroy their hobby, I just want to enjoy our shared hobby…
#GamerGaters, is this really that hard to understand?