There is a stigma currently attached to gaming that pretty much goes like this: You know that fat guy in the movie Gamer? That’s gamers.
We are supposed to be fat, sweaty misogynists who get positive erotic delight out of people being murdered. What separates us from being serial killers is that serial killers have more get up and go.
That is the stereotype at least. Gaming, being about as big as movies, doesn’t really have a culture and given that gaming audiences have been getting significantly more balanced in terms of gender over the last ten years, the “Gamer” stereotype doesn’t fit.
About 42% of gamers are women (who are also the fastest demographic in the market), the average gamer is 37 years old and first started playing twelve years ago, about 72% of American households play games and 76% of the games sold in 2010 were rated 10+ and under according to The Entertainment Software Association.
In other words, gaming isn’t particularly a hive of scum and sexist villainy. The stereotype isn’t an accurate reflection of gamers, and to write gamers off as such is a bit like writing off fans of Victorian literature as being the sort to heap praises on Elsie Dinsmore.
So why did the stereotype arise?
It is because gamers let it. It isn’t society to blame here but the fragmented nature of what a gamer is, we do not have a mono-culture, we have a multitude of cultures which are being defined by the very worst element in gaming. By our silence as gamers we have given our assent to the sexist jerks who think the attitudes behind things like “Feminist whore” in a game like Dead Island are acceptable.
And note I do not buy the explanation that it was one techie in that company. The publisher is Deep Silver, Deep Silver’s previous releases include the Singles series (Which is to say, porn games), and Lets Play Mums on the DS (Yay patriarchy being sold to six year olds). Techland developed the game – after developing the deeply racist Call of Juarez: The Cartel.
I personally am avoiding the Deep Silver brand as a result of this.
When we accept such in our games we accept the labels that come with it. This is not what the majority of gaming cultures are about, and it is not what we should be about. It is the sort of thing we should speak up against, and instead we (because I have done this myself) complain to the people pointing out the problem that it is not us, instead of complaining to the people who are the problem.
If we lie with pigs, we begin to smell like them. Sexism, racism and homophobia have been given a free ride in games, and it is time more people started blogging that while such exists, it isn’t something we support. That it is something we actively oppose, because these sexist, racist little homophobes are not the people we want to game with.
And they certainly are not the people we want to be identified as.
H/T: Butterflies and Wheels.