I blundered into this topic when I encountered "why can't my video games just be video games?" thing, and wondered what that was about. It was about Gamergate. The hashtag Gamergate, the idea of gamer being a male gendered word, that maybe its even a pejoritive again, that some sort of gamer identity is passe or hateful, some seriously unsettling threats, the honesty of gaming media, whether gaming media is also facilatating some social agendas, mass deletions, censorship but just ignoring things, and lots of other questions have created a lot of articles, videos, comments, tweets, etc.
We have talked about howmits only been 20 years since being a gamer was something you could talk about at parties or maybe even a job interview. Has that changed again? Does saying something like "Sure, I'm a gamer" now says something more than "I play video games."
And 'gamers' have earned their negative steryotpypes.
First, you have the growing narrative push in AAA games. Boring, cliched, violent, exploitative. Really repulsive stuff.
Second, you have the 'political bend' of lef wing gamers, who pretend their games are art, and want their art to be force fed 'politically correct' story lines with gender/racial/sexuality quotas grafted onto paper thin one dimensional game
characters', which is an ironic failure, that, while amusing, is still annoying. My least favorite 'group' on game message boards and news feeds and forums. It is absolutely ridiculous and really exposes the maturity level of this industry.
Third, you have the fetish people - who really go off into fantasy land and cos play and obsesses over, again, absurd animal and human game characters. This I simply find depressing.
Fourth, you have the whiners - these are the people who always find something to complain about, and spend a lot of time promoting invented 'storyline' in game news reporting - about such and such a company 'abandoning' either 'them' or their favorite game character or franchise. In fact, this type is often so bad that they might be my least favorite type on message boards. I know what they are looking for - it must be their childhood. The funny part about this group ios they continually contradict themselves, and are quick to adapt - 'hey, wait, I got a new complaint' as soon as their mouth is shut on a particular subject, or their argument is proven ridiculous and childish.
Some games are fun to play, if only that is what really mattered.....I believe all of the above is fed and promoted by game makers and their advertising and through both overt and subtle control of the game media.
Totalbiscuit wrote a pretty good article on this:
"Games are not politically neutral. Neither are mainstream romantic comedies, or action films, or any novel I’ve ever read. They may sometimes appear politically neutral if the values they reinforce mesh with the value systems of the larger culture, but our culture is not politically neutral, either, and it is not outside of the role of a critic to comment on or raise questions about the political meanings embedded in the works one evaluates. In fact, it is often impossible to review something apolitically, because to not comment on or challenge the political meanings in a work in your review is to give them your tacit endorsement." --Carolyn Petit
I just couldn't put it in better words myself. The games you simultaneously love and hate, Segatarious--even the "fun" games--are embedded with meanings whether or not someone consciously chose to put them there. I agree with you that "gamer" doesn't make sense as an identity anymore, but I can't abide the notion that anyone pushing for games that are not, as you say, "exploitative," is some kind of left-wing nutcase. Games carry meaning just like any other medium. Whether you regard them as artful or not, the MoMA and the Smithsonian certainly have given their endorsement. The cat is out, so to speak, and there's no going back.
Once you get on the Internet however and are playing strangers, this kind of behavior is really obnoxious. You don't really know the person you're playing most of the time, so comments come off as insulting.
And it's worse when you throw a female into the mix, because women do not interact in the same way men do. My friends have made it very clear they prefer having no women at game night, because it throws off the whole dynamics of the competition.
You sure? Isn't it likely they don't often interact with MEN the way MEN do. Similarly, I doubt you act the same in a group of women as you do around a group of men. Those women probably think you act that way all the time too.
"Geez, Dave is so polite and doesn't burp or fart or say nasty things. What a strange guy," they say. Is that similar behaviour to your usual Monday Night Football behaviour?
I lived in a co-ed residence with co-ed floors. It was all pretty much the same as far as I could see once everyone knew each other.
Personally I don't find trash talking very funny when it's things like homophobic slurs or sexist/misogynist comments, which unfortunately far too many people think it's acceptable to casually throw around.
I for one would much rather play games with women then with men for that very reason. There was one person in my class who played games with other guys, and he said that it made him very uncomfortable when the other guys called him offensive gay slurs, but he never spoke up about with them because he knew if he did then they would just mock him even more.
Maybe this is more "GeekGate" than "GamerGate". And that the conflict is not wholly male vs female, but maybe young vs adult.
This forum is proof enough that geek things are no longer just things we did as kids, but continue to do as adults.
This week, beyond the debates in the video gaming community, the comic book community has been smitten with sexualizing Spider Woman's butt, and how Star Trek holds up to the feminist 'Bechdel' test. Video games, comics, and Star Trek?
Spider woman's butt is mild compared to the barely there super boob superheroine costumes throughout the decades, especially the 90s. To criticize Star Trek of all things for not being feminist is to be blinded to what else was on television at the time when they were being made. What is going on here?
These things and more are actvities I think of as 'Geek'. These are usually imaginative but physically passive pursuits that attract the socially awkward youth seeking some level of escapism, heroic identification, sexual stimulation, and ego boost. Maybe this would include things like computers and programming, comic books, tabletop games, anime, fantasy and science fiction books, and video games.
These hobbies were the pursuit of mostly boys, with a percentage of girls. The boys who are fond of these activities are probably just thought of as immature, but that they'll grow out of it. Girls are hit with an endless parade of advice on makeup, clothes, dancing, flirting, and making small talk.
Time passes, and many of those activities have gained a measure of social acceptance. That has allowed many of us who did them as youths, instead of outgrowing them, to continue on. That means we have grown up men and women, who are now sharing their old hobbies with boys and girls. that see them as their new hobbies.
That's a new dynamic that might be causing tension. Some of the adults have grown to see that their teenage hobbies are, well, Not Safe for Work. They want that to change, although if they could talk to their younger selves they might find their younger selves just want their hobby left alone and for the adults to go do other things. Also, unlike things like the witchcraft attacks on role playing games or delinquency attacks on comics, this time its personal. That's because both sides can say they honestly cherish the hobby, they just want it to change (or not change).
How much of Gamergate then is part of the larger debate in Geekdom on whether that which had been the province of the young (and therefore held to a much lower standard) and which is now also the province of adults, should be held to a much higher standard of sensitivity and awareness. Basically, its the reverse of hey kid, get off my grass with hey lady, get your own hobby.
1) "Games are not politically neutral... In fact, it is often impossible to review something apolitically, because to not comment on or challenge the political meanings in a work in your review is to give them your tacit endorsement." --Carolyn Petit
2)...The games you simultaneously love and hate, Segatarious--even the "fun" games--are embedded with meanings whether or not someone consciously chose to put them there...Games carry meaning just like any other medium. Whether you regard them as artful or not, the MoMA and the Smithsonian certainly have given their endorsement. The cat is out, so to speak, and there's no going back.[/QUOTE]
1) I respect you, my friend, but I feel the assertion that to 'not comment or challenge the political meanings in a work is to give them your tacit endorsement' is ... untenable and unsound. People can and do go and reinterpret all sorts of things with different filters to see how it looks. Every time a video game character eats a power up is not some political statement about childhood obesity, but it could be spun that way. Everytime we watch the Flintstones, do we have to comment that Fred is eating a Brontosaurus burger...in the car with Dino...then going to work on a Brontosaurus the next day?
To assert that we have a convene a conversation about and against every conceivable slight or slant or omission or cliché or trope or oversight on every bit of media we discuss or we are tacitly agreeing to it is ludicrous. We limit our discussion either to where a point is deliberately being made, or we understand that culture shifts and that things that were not deliberately making political points might seem to be doing so in later times. No people of color in Bedrock for instance...do we have to mention that every time we discuss the Flintstones. No. No we don't.
2) Segatarious can defend himself, but let's look at a game that is all about gameplay and not story. Say, Tic Tac Toe or Risk on a random map or marbles or paper rock scissors or jacks or hopscotch or etc etc. There is no significant meaning in pure gameplay unless you introduce it. Even games like chess, with male king and female queen could have different pieces (as some themed sets do) without any real effect.