A lot of discussion has come up recently regarding real gamers in gaming, especially women, and for the most part, those with the loudest voices have been skirting around the REAL issues. So, here I will dissect the arguments and the problems. But before we start, we should first talk about styles of gaming.
As I see it, there are three main types of gamers: Casual, Dedicated, and Hardcore. There are variations within each, like perhaps you may have a hardcore casual gamer, someone who plays casual games, but does so with the obsession of a hardcore player. In this way, you have much variety in each gamer.
A casual gamer plays a few games here and there, mostly for diversion. They may only play one game, but spend a few hours with it in a week. Others may play a bunch of small games, like the kind you usually find on smart phones. These people ARE gamers, and a majority of casual gamers ARE women. Extra Credits did an episode regarding "Hidden Object" games where they said that in that genre alone, representation of female characters in the games is almost always done. This group is the largest group of gamers.
A dedicated gamer is one who probably plays at least two or three genres of games, has a couple of favourites, and probably spends a lot of time on a few specific ones. There is a good chance a dedicated gamer knows a good amount about the major studios of games, and at one time or another was a table top RPG player. They are what many would call the well-rounded gamer, not spending all their time in games, but being pretty decent at them overall. This is the second largest group of gamers out there.
The hardcore gamer is the ones which a lot of people deride, fear and mock. These are the ones who spend almost all their time gaming. The top Starcraft or World of Warcraft players, the guys who get sponsorships to play games, the ones who play professionally, THESE are the hardcore. They are the ones who have an almost military like precision and regiment for their gaming. They are also the ones who end up dead in some internet cafe after being there 5 weeks. Some of them border on dangerous obsession with their games. The people who are hardcore make up a small percentage of gamers, but tend to be one of the loudest.
The problem that a lot of people have lately with women in gaming actually stems from another problem: The influx of new gamers. Gaming has started to become more mainstream in the past 10 years. When I was in high school, kids like me who played computer games were geeks, nerds, and losers. The jocks picked on us. The preppy kids kicked on us. The popular kids picked on us. But that was par for the course, pretty much everyone in high school got picked on, but the gamer kids got it pretty bad. But in the past couple years, more and more people are getting into gaming. And a LOT of those new gamers are those who used to make fun of the gamer kids in the past. The jocks are all headed to sports and combat games for example. With the influx of these new gamers, their attitudes have come with them. But until you understand the way gamers were, you can't understand what is going on.
Before gaming became popular, it was the realm of the social outcasts. If you were a gamer, it was pretty much guaranteed you didn't fit in with anyone else. But here's the thing, in gaming we were all united. And what really made it special, was that you were judged on your merits in the games, NOT anything else. Despite what a lot of people think, there were female gamers, even back in the old days. Sure, at first, a lot of the guys were nervous and awkward around them, but once they got into the game, most realized that they were social outcasts too, and so were welcomed as fellow gamers. If you were a gamer, you belonged. The true gamers didn't care if you were strong, handsome, pretty, fashionable or popular. They only cared how fun it was to play with you. Gamers got along because they knew that other gamers were there for fun and enjoyment and to escape the crap in their daily lives.
But as people realized gaming was fun, and had it's own elements of being cool, more people started in. Some of them were people who were decent gamers, and they fit in well. Others were mediocre or worse, and had problems relating. Think a jock, who is always good at sports, picking up a controller to play the latest NFL game, and getting creamed by someone who knew how to play better. Their bad attitudes started to infect gaming. The first xBro's were born. We all know them. The rude, condescending chest beaters who use bad language to try and rattle their opponents. Also came the frustrated kids with no father figures, and they had anger issues too. All of these and more started to make gaming more and more hostile. Not just to other new people, but to all gamers. The crap of daily lives started invading gaming.
This question comes fully loaded and with lots of problems. How DO you define a real gamer? The definition that most people use is someone who plays video games. However, this means that pretty much 90% of the adult world is a gamer. To be honest, most of those people probably wouldn't even call themselves a gamer. So how do we narrow it down? Well, personally, I am a little pickier about who gets the REAL gamer tag and who is just a gamer. People who spend around an hour a day playing video games are gamers to me. You may think an hour is a lot, and if you do, then you aren't a gamer. Most people these days spend more time then that on FakeBook, and that is probably the most damaging thing to a person's self esteem. But how does someone get the REAL gamer certification? Being a dedicated or hardcore gamer usually gets you that, but there are exceptions I will get into. Being someone who has or does play tabletop games gets you that. Being someone who plays games for the enjoyment of the game itself gets you that. If you are looking for only status or money or glory from gaming, then you aren't a REAL gamer, but a gamer jock. I consider this a difference worth noting. If you can't enjoy the game for the game's sake, even when playing a game professionally, you aren't a real gamer, just a virtual athlete. You will notice the BEST athletes are the ones who enjoy the game itself, and don't care if they win or lose. This holds true in gaming too. With that being said, you will see the pool of REAL gamers is not as big as the pool of gamers.
Now, before I continue to talk about the original topic, it is time to define the two big types of females in gaming. The Gamer Gurl and the Females who Game. You might think they are the same, but there is a distinct difference. Allow me to explain by first explaining what a Female Who Games is:
Females who Game are usually the social outcasts who originally were gamers. They have skills at multiple games, and generally fit into dedicated or hardcore gaming categories. When around other gamers, they will 'geek out' with them, talking games, or strategies. They have few problems with how gaming is, other than the rude jerks that probably aren't even real gamers. Those they game with will stand up for them based on their 'gaming cred' or skills. Chances are, if you mention table top games to them as something to play, they won't have a problem with it, and may actually be more enthusiastic than others. Most of them can also get into moods just like an average gamer, where they will start cursing and cussing at a game when they are having bad luck.
Gamer Gurls are a whole other story. It is very easy for a dedicated or hardcore gamer to identify them. Here are a few hints: They talk like they are part of the "in crowd" using whatever slang is popular. They probably only play one or two games that they will admit. They want special attention or help BECAUSE they are a female, going out of their way to push that in people's faces. Their skill is usually minimal, but sometimes will be passable. People who defend them will do so based on their gender, not on any skills or credentials. They like to post provocative pictures of themselves doing gaming things. Table top games mentioned will probably an elicit a loser, geek or nerd comment. And the big one, they are the ones trying to change the gaming environment, by demanding people be nice to them, that rudeness be stopped in their presence, and constantly wanting more female characters in games.
As you can guess from the description of the Gamer Gurls, these are the ones who are giving women in gaming a bad name. They are the ones coming in, trying to make gaming something that fits them. They were probably the popular or pretty girls in school, and made fun of gamers or geeks. But now, they see how popular it is, and want in. They expect the same popularity they had before, and get upset when they aren't given it immediately. And now, they come in to this environment, full of people they made fun of, and want to be better than them in their own environment. And that is where the resentment starts. The new rude gamers just spout their usual crap, and then the Gamer Gurls get into full victim mode, and some people rush out to protect them. They condemn all gamers as cruel and mean, when it's only a small, but vocal, minority. They start demanding changes, things that old school gamers DO NOT want to see happen: Men and women gamers alike. These people who made fun of gaming, are now trying to tell those they made fun of, how to behave. And this is WRONG.
Here's the rub of it: Most real gamers, those who understand and enjoy gaming for what it is, do NOT like the interlopers coming in and telling them how to game. They don't like the rude kids and loudmouths who are making gaming less fun. And the group who has the most legitimate complaint: Females who Game. Since the influx, almost all female gamers are now quizzed by other gamers, to prove their 'gamer cred'. This is INSULTING to those who have been gaming for a long time. And the biggest reason why it is happening is because these interlopers are coming in, claiming to be gamers, and making everyone else look bad. Females who Game, I ask you, as a fellow gamer, please don't de offended by gamer quizzes. After all, you will pass them, and may even stump other gamers with your own. You can also help expose the Gamer Gurls, goodness knows we would enjoy seeing them trounced and outed. They can't call it misogyny if it's another female calling them out.
I have heard a lot of people talking about how it is a good thing that more people are getting into gaming. It increases the number of people that play, and makes it more acceptable. And in some respects, that is true. But at the same time, that means that unlike before, where only those who understood what it was like to be made fun of were admitted, now we have people who used to make fun of others. The bullies have come to gaming. As have the whiners, and those who think the world revolves around them. Before, gaming was a refuge from the cruel and uncaring world. Now that cruel world has invaded gaming. And your best option is to find those you can relate to, stick with them, and just block out the rest. Maybe if gaming becomes unpopular again, the wanna-be gamers will leave us gamers alone.
What is worse is now we have professional victims coming in, claiming to be gamers, and making money talking about how gaming needs to change to suit them. They don't care about games. Most of them probably don't even game much if at all. And some have even been caught on record saying they aren't into games, and never have been. Why should someone who's never even liked games have a say as to how games should be? They did just fine before these people showed up, and everyone was happy before. Now we have whole groups of people being victims to get something changed that doesn't need it. I have a very to the point metaphor for this: You don't stay with your friends who are smokers, and demand that they stop smoking for you. It is their house, and you are a guest. You adjust to them. New gamers need to adjust to how the gaming community has always been. If you don't like it, you don't have to be a gamer, and you are welcome to find an activity that is more welcoming to you. Or you can just play games where you don't have any problems. The rest of us gamers would appreciate it.
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