Last week on “Inside Gaming Culture: Men, Women, and Gaming Pt. 1“, we looked at some very real issues that have hit the gaming scene within the past few years and only recently has had a significant light shed on it. Gaming, sexism, and harassment. Something that has become a rift inside of our gaming community and has even scared some developers off. Some of this is in part to people flying under a fake flag and stating that they are apart of several movements, others did it just because they can, and well the rest we have no idea of what their motives are. This time around I decided to sit down and look at the aspect of the gaming culture as a male gamer. This included taking a peak and diving into the mind of a gamer that’s just coming up into adulthood.
This required me to sit down and do the same thing I did for the women. As a male gamer it’s hard not to say that I don’t take pride in what I do, but that comes along with anything in life, but with gaming it’s a bit different. I found myself priding on accomplishments, friends, and even that ‘hot gamer chick’ that’s out there. Yes that may sound sexist, and it was meant to. Why? That is very common these days for those who still have a bit of a little boy in them. Sure some women may find that wrong, but it’s there, and men who game do find women who game just as attractive as sometimes a supermodel (not to say she may not grab a guys attention). A lot of this is fueled by the complexity of how men think. We are drawn to something that attracts us, then we look for something of the sort, and ultimately – or so we hope – find what we were searching for.
So I decided to take a look into what guys find attractive about what could be considered sexist and to do this I looked right back at what women found alarming in our last article. I decided to once more dig through the pages I found, this included ones of the women who claimed to be female gamers, and ones that were possibly just doing what they did simply for attention. What I noted was something that should bother me naturally – these women weren’t attractive because they ‘game’; they are attractive because of the fact how they held themselves, what they had shown off of their body, and how little clothing they allowed to cover them up. It was the natural allure that a man has spotting such a thing and the simple thought of, “am I even good enough for a woman like that,” which makes me reflect upon several of the statements that the women who contributed to the last article said. It is definitely these type of women they find alarming because they do put a bad appearance upon other women who game.
Though I did have after a bit step back and once more take the composure I did when once more speaking with the women, but this time I approached men, some of them were astonished and/or flabbergasted by some of their thoughts pertaining to this. So it was time to break down, rip out my questions, and once more hammer these guys out like I did the women. Sadly, some of them declined to let me use their answers as they felt like the questions were ‘traps’ or even ‘purposely bring out the bad side of male gamers. Oddly enough? That wasn’t true, but instead it was turning some rather hard questions in on them when it comes down to this topic. So lets begin!
I decided to state that gaming does seem to come a bit more natural for us guys, some of us having become a hobby that many of us were raised with, but also the same could say the same about the women who are part of the gaming culture and or are starting to join it. I decided to ask them how their friends and or family felt when they came out as a part of the gaming culture versus just gaming casually, and their answers were almost what would be expected. Almost all of them saying the identical answer, “I really didn’t come out as a gamer or member of this culture. I think, like many who grew up in the late 80’s / 90’s, that it was just who we were. We just played a lot of games and it wasn’t until our generation became more social that we discovered we weren’t alone,” another stating that, “I didn’t really have to come out as a gamer. My pops and I actually gamed together when I was growing up. We’d hammer out hours after hours of games like Super Mario Bro.’s, Duck hunt, Galaga, and even Pac-Man when we’d go to the arcade, so it came natural,” while the last one stated, “I didn’t really start as a gamer. My brother got me started. He’d sit and play games like Super Mario 64 for countless hours and try to get me involved in it. It was great fun and keeps me as a part of the gaming culture that focuses on the more retro games..”
It was interesting to see that many of them started out the same when it came to gaming: Family and Friends. It was time to ask them though, a secondary question and that was how their families and friends reacted to the fact they like games. If they had hid the fact they are a gamer,how long have they hid it due to the possibility of bad reactions. All of them gave me the exact same answer due to the first answer they had given. They stated that the point was a moot point, to think back on the first question asked. This was good enough of a reply for a small understanding as I was raised much the same way around games, friends, and having a good time. Though one of them did interject, stating, “Growing up I played sports a lot. The guys on the team actually found it weird and often taunted me as a nerd, as an outsider, and even a couch potato. It didn’t bother me though. I knew they played games, they just wanted to look cool.”
I knew what he felt, why? I was much the same in many ways later in my life, which lead to a brief discussion over that topic before he, myself, and the others moved onto our next question at hand. Though it did bother me after asking them that. Are gamers really seen that way to those on the outside who don’t understand gaming as a hobby and lifestyle? To me, it seemed that was very true since gaming has come a long ways from just simply two to four people sitting on the floor to share a screen to people playing together half way across the world thanks to modern technology and leaps as well as bounds in gaming development.
After spending a few moments with each of these guys to discuss their standpoints, a few of them were ready and eager to move onto the next question, this time in regards to if their friends didn’t are or if they’d ask what games they play, if they joined them or just simply watched them play. All of them? Stated identical answers, one stating, “My friends when I was little always joined me, man. We’d get together after school on the weekdays, chill out in the house, hammer away at games like Battletoads, Mortal Kombat, or even Killer Instinct. It was a blast,” while another whom I answered my Q&A through personal contact stated in his message, “People tend to gravitate towards those with similar interests. As such, we’d always chat about what our favorite game was or share school yard rumors about our favorite games. Many of these said rumors would tend to be bupkis though. I’m looking at you, Mew in Pokémon,” and another stating, “For me, like the others, it came natural to our friends and family. We grew up in an era where gaming was one of those things that everyone did. So it wasn’t uncommon to see a few boys and girls in the same room throwing it down on Ninja Turtles back on the NES.”
This at the time wasn’t uncommon. Growing up when gaming was still, in many ways in its infancy, it wasn’t uncommon to see several boys and girls huddled around consoles and playing a few games together. Heck, back then it was something rather casual, which blurred the lines of what gaming was then and what it has blossomed into now. Unfortunately, much of the blossoming as noted on part one of this series of three pointed out there are some huge issues underlying the the world of gaming. It has come to such a deal where women in many ways seemingly don’t feel proper within the gaming culture because of others. Some of this in-part because of the unfortunate sexism that has joined in on it, or simply because women in gaming have been given a bad name.
Though it could be a simple fix if people just saw each other as a gamer versus their gender they are. This is something a few of us discussed in-depth as it set up our next question almost perfectly. Many of us felt the same on how gender roles shouldn’t play a huge part of gaming as it does now, and back in the 80’s and 90’s, no one cared if you were a male or female as long as the games were fun. So I implied that some of them probably have been gaming for a rather long period of time (it’s not unusual for many of us to have gamed for over 28 years now), and if they had, how did their finds react to them when they were a kid? I also asked if their friends had a problem with them gaming.
One of the guys stated, “Sadly, growing up when I did, many of the kids didn’t play games, or at least, didn’t enjoy them as much as I did. Occasionally, you’d find someone who played mario or sonic, but rarely did you find anyone who actually played RPGs. As such, growing up a gamer was difficult. Even back then, gaming had a nasty stigma tied to it. For a perfect example, look up the episode of “Step by Step” that covered game addiction. Not only did it put gaming in a negative light, but episodes like this made life hell for kids who were already known to be obsessed with gaming,” another just giving a small laugh, “When I was a kid, we did get taunted for simply just playing games. I lived in a small town most of my life, much like you, and unfortunately that meant going outside was a big deal. We had imaginary wars with water balloon’s, laser tag, and even rubber band guns. The stuff your mom or dad normally told you to be careful while doing. My friends didn’t react badly though, we just gave each other a nudge, and at the end of the day were playing a Sega or SNES together. I wasn’t lucky enough to get my hands on a NES,” but this is where the odds turned as one of the guys decided to turn my own question on me, so it was my turn to answer, which made this all the more interesting, so take heed that this is my reply, “I grew up in a trailer park. My best friend growing up, Erich and I as well as my little brother were in love with video games. So it was natural for us, we would camp outside during the day, come in at night when we weren’t whining that we forgot sunscreen, and hook up two controllers. Our most common games were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Duck Hunt, and Battletoads. We were ‘pros’ at what we played. Though our friends did give us a lot of crap over what we played, but that was typical for the time. Gaming was still new and so was the idea of being a gamer. Trust me; it wasn’t odd for us to be gamers back then. We just didn’t know what it would turn into today.”
We decided to chat about our origins in gaming for a bit, what games we loved, what games we wish we had played, and eventually even our gaming counterparts as we grew up. Some of our friends even found it hilarious that we could remember half the stuff we did since most of us were born in the early to mid 80’s. To some, they’d have been impressed that most of us had cousins, sisters, and or close female friends that we gamed with. We even denoted the ideology that gaming has come a long ways, that now it has turned into a social standing of its own, and within it people from all walks of life. We discussed how cosplay, fandom, and even character design did change over the years, but with it, so has some backlash that hasn’t been needed the way it has been received. This is unfortunate as women have, in many ways, become targets because of a rather male ‘dominated’ society.
In some ways, it has become almost troublesome, and all of us agreed in many ways on the next question that came up, I stated that I know some of them may or may not know about a recent controversy that has been flared up by gaming feminists. Some of them are well known for their YouTube channels and their time in the spotlight. If they know or have read about them – do they feel that these people are doing good for women gamers or do they think these ‘gaming personalities’ caused negative attention? One of the guys stated the best answer out of the group, which made me nod my head and decide to use only his, as many of the guys came to full agreement when I let them read his online reply, “Call it willful ignorance, but I’ve tried to stay away from this controversy. I’ve heard people say it was about how female gamers are treated in real life, but i’ve also heard it referred to as how women are portrayed in video games. If its option 1, then yeah, I’ve seen how women are made fun of in this male dominated society. I admire that these women want to change our culture but the real issue stems from parents letting their kids play online in M rated games where the attitudes of college age dipshits are passed onto middle school dipshits. With regards to option 2, I personally believe there is a genre for everyone. Looking at how women are portrayed in games could leave a bad impression, but look at the strong characters that are also created like Faith in Mirror’s Edge, Chell in Portal, or many others. If they want the industry to change, then continue to create badass female characters. Say what you want about Bayonetta, but she’s pretty kick ass,” but one man did lean over and ask me my take on it.
Oddly I almost found myself having a hard time replying, and thus I answered knowing once it had been asked – they wanted an answer, so take heed as this is my reply, “I feel that these women have in some ways done both good and bad. They’ve brought up a very troubling issue within our community as gamers. We do have weak points that I feel do need taken notice of and worked on. I do feel in many way, women as gamers do feel ostracized because of how we portray them within certain aspects of not just games, but multimedia in general – specifically the multimedia they know we as gamers will look to. Be it games, anime, movies, posters, etc – we are the targets they are looking for. I also feel as though women should feel proud of those characters who are strong and were created for those women who want a strong role. As the guy you all agreed on with his answer – there are some very strong women in games, look at Chell from Portal, look at Faith from Mirror’s Edge, heck look at characters like Nilin from Remember Me, Samus Aran from Metroid, Bayonetta who is over sexualized, but she is strong and can stand on her own. Sure she was created with a sex appeal, but she shows that women are strong and can be sexy at the same time.
If you even want more subtle characters for examples, look at Borderlands. Randy Pitchford and his team created female leads and support characters that are tough as nails and could easily put you and I to shame if they really existed. I do think that the fundamental issue at hand is that we as a community need to realize that women are equal to us. There is not a setting of male gamer or female gamer. I believe that there is only one time for us we should be considered about and that is ‘gamer’,” but one guy decided to fire back, and so we listened, “Even with the strong examples you and John Doe as we will call him used. There is still a real issue at hand. Feminists in the gaming culture or even the multimedia ‘crusade’ are the ones causing this issue. They made problems that didn’t exist, such as GamerGate and Social Justice Warriors exist when they weren’t really needed. There hasn’t really been a huge issue as it is now, but maybe I’m just blind and the recent events with ‘GamerGate’ claims are false and people looking for a flag to fly under. I think women just need to tough it up and realize that most up-and-coming gamer men are just aholes that just need ignored. It’s like I tell my wife – if you are receiving harassment, dish it right back, and send those people to the kitchen to make you a sandwich, it’s that easy.”
Sure the discussion we had and the few gentlemen that sat down and discussed our input upon this topic a little further. The discussion went in-depth to the point I had to sit back and listen to both anonymous man a, b, and c. All of their arguments were well made, and even emphasized on the fact that we do, in ways need groups such as GamerGate, Social Just Warriors, and even the feminists. Why? They all shed light on some very controversial and weak points in the gaming industry as well community. Some of this can be attributed to the need for ethics in journalism, ethics in game development, and even ethics as a community as a whole. That there are problems that have been aimed at and shot down rather quickly. Though some of these topics got us into an even more heated debate, which lead me to having to get the topic back on hand. Though I couldn’t stop thinking about it – what if GamerGate, Social Justice Warriors, and the feminists are right and we have VERY real problems that need nipped in the butt? With (according to a study done by the ESA that can be read about here on Washington Post) females making up over half the gaming community, it’s not a surprise that the gaming culture has been a cesspool waiting for someone to ignite a flame in.
The question at hand is – can this be reversed so that there isn’t a flame being lit to stir controversy? The short answer is actually not as easy as it sounds due to how booth babes, cosplayers, and even artists portray females in multimedia. The answer that seemed only plausible is one answer – not at this time. It would take a major step as a community for the sexism, rudeness, and internet trolling to come to an end. Thanks to the lack of face-to-face, gaming is not as easy as it seems to control, which leaves companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony at an impasse where they have to make stipulations to curb the harassment that has been happening for almost ten years or better now. Though I decided to move from my inner thought when the guys got back from their smoke and or coffee breaks and decided to ask them straight forward, “Do you feel that women who portray (i.e. cosplay) female characters to get attention make it a bit harder for women to be apart of the gaming culture?”, there’s no easier way than quoting this question directly.
With John Doe having replied over the internet, I decided to use his answer and let the guys read it, “I enjoy cosplay if its done right. Yes, you can be the ‘Sexy <insert name>’, but if you can’t play the character right, you just look silly. I look at some cosplayers and think, “We’ll, she certainly would be doing that.” I think the main rule for male or female cosplay should be to accurately portray the character without compromising their standards or yours. Whether or not it has a negative impact on gaming culture… hard to say. You see booth babes at many events at car shows and I don’t think that has negative impact on motor enthusiasts,” One of the guys stated, “Yea, I do think cosplay is a bit of an issue since it has become a hard-point within the gaming and even anime culture. Sure it spreads past that, but we’re focusing on this specific formula for this specific culture. I do feel that men, women, and even younger cosplayers have turned the tables on what is and is not acceptable as a whole.
I do feel that, as John Doe from the internet stated, that if not done right, some cosplay is just silly. I do think that we need to really see a formula pop up on what is and is not acceptable. Sure you see booth babes that guys might go and think – ‘hey, this lady is absolutely sexy’, which is typical since we are guys. I’m sure even some ladies would think that too. We just need to learn to draw a line on what we as a person think is and is not acceptable and how we treat women. I don’t think cosplay is exactly compromising standards, I think the people within the community are,” with our youngest there being in his late teens, he stated, “I think that they use the cosplayers to get attention. It works and it works well. It is what helped get me into gaming. I think cosplayers are sexy, which is awesome. It makes me hope that one day I can meet a lady that is into what I am. It’s simple as that.”
With all their answers being rather valid it brought one thing to mind – are the cosplayers really the problem or are we as gamers within a culture the problem? The answer seemed to lean towards a grey area where both could possibly be to blame. One being the men and women are both to blame. This being in part due to how we can tend to idolize certain cosplayers, character designs, and or personas within the gaming community. It also shows that the sexuality of the cosplay being done can be a target to negative attention, but so can the booth babes.
Sure we all know what a gamer girl does and does not look like, which means one thing – people need to keep in mind that no one woman and or man will be exactly what we dream of or expect to be with. This is just something that comes natural and should have been common sense from the beginning. Taking back to the internet, I looked over my questions after John Doe had answered another question I asked, which stated that we know there are a lot of people who play games. Some of them are amazing women. Some on the other hand use their capability to sexualize themselves for attention can be a problem. So I asked him how he feels about these ladies and if he felt they put a negative view on women in gaming? His answer in ways is right about the questions I formulated, which meant to put men and women on the hot seat for their answers, and to really think about their responses before handing them out, “Man, these questions feel like traps. There isn’t going to be a right answer period. I’ve known girls who enjoyed the attention they received by flaunting their features, but I also know many who hate being objectified. So, lets take the middle route and just say,’Do what you want without infringing on the rights of others.”
His response was rather accurate, and even the others seem to agree, but I decided to listen to one of the women in the room whom happened to be present, “I in ways agree with John Doe about some of these questions, at least for me only some, feel like traps. Though I would like to interject and respond if I may. There are issues with this. I’ve seen a few, I’m sure you know a few of the personalities we all have in common are. I do feel that some of them have used their physique to gain attention, which unfortunately does give some male and females a bad bit of light on us as a community. I do feel, even as my boyfriend would agree, that there needs to be some form of limitations that these women take. Some of them pose almost nude with gaming peripherals or games, while others show almost as much as cleavage as possible.
Were I a male, I would get the idea that I am being lead on, and unfortunately it can lead to some bad things – people are crazy and will do what they need to get what they want or at least attempt to do so. Because of internet anonymity, no one is safe from what idiots might do,” A few of the guys applauded as one decided to speak up, “I don’t and do feel she has the right idea. Even though this topic is to focus on males, I do think these women need to think twice. They need to evaluate what they are doing for the younger generations. We are seeing a lot of our youth who are or are not gamers becoming sexualized because of role models. WE as a gaming community need young gamer male and females to realize that they don’t need that route. That they can be who they are without worrying about being sexy or sexualized in order to get attention. That they are fine with who they are be them heavy, skinny, chubby, or even handicapped. Everyone’s beautiful and these women are just not showing that in the right way.”
After their answers were made, I decided to take a break and drink my coffee. I had to think on their answers as they made some very valid points. What if the point is moot because the internet does provide some form of anonymity to us? Sure we have IP addresses, user names, nicknames, etc, but we are still people behind those names. We are people whom have come to idolize those who speak as our ‘voices’. Because of this we feel as if we have a form of shielding from what we would do in person, but even then, there is still a respect system, one that can truly hurt one’s reputation. One best example of this is the MMO-space where people do still take one’s personal actions in chats, in-game, and even personal performance to heart since they do realize that people are showing their innermost true self. It’s a flaw that gamers have yet had to realize that is truly there within them. Do you think that they should think twice before they do such a thing regarding the last question, John Doe responded, “You should always think twice before doing anything. Always evaluate the possible negative and positive outcomes of any situation before doing something, especially if its public and online.”
When I asked the others about this, they all agreed to that simple answer. Whether it be one that should be thought about or logic, it was the only one they as a group collectively wanted to go with. It is true, however, that we as a society, and even a ‘culture’ need to realize that everything we do should be evaluated in life since every action does have a reaction whether its good or bad, online or offline, and on the phone or in person. It all comes down to that everything comes back to us as an individual or within the gaming culture itself. This set up my next question perfectly. I stated that they may or may not know about the current situation that female gamers are facing due to ethics and sexism within the gaming culture.
I in turn asked the group and John Doe how they felt about the whole approach and the fact women are being harassed within the gaming community, and their replies were rather surprising, “I really don’t like how childish gaming culture is, period. Perhaps women receive more of it than men do, but the online gaming community is filled with assholes. Everyone eventually grows up, lord knows I had to, but it needs to start young. I look at the parents who blindly use video games as baby sitters without keeping tabs on what the child is doing. But, if there is one good outcome of this negative community, its the YouTube videos of kids being disciplined by their parents over an open mic,” another stating that he “felt that women in ways have become their own targets. This is unfortunate because of the fact they are stereotyped by the ones we mentioned above, the ‘personalities to gaming’ and even the feminists, GamerGate, and Social Justice Warrior affiliates. Sure they all have good motives, but two wrongs, no matter what they are, do not make a right. As a collective, we are completely wrong on how things are approached, specifically how women are now being targeted as simple ‘slaves’ within their mindset. I really do think women need to learn to harden themselves as well to overcome the mindset of typical gamer morons that use being a ‘gamer’ as a shield. They aren’t a gamer, they’re using it to cover the fact their parents never spanked their ass or slapped them for being a complete brat. That’s that really. We are given tools as well in order to protect ourselves. I think these women who are being harassed should take to them in order to prevent this.”
With only two people having wished to respond out of the males, it was time to move on. I understood where they came from as my approach in the last article had proven that. Women are targets to harassment because of their gender, immaturity of others, or simply for the fact that women have been put on a ‘sexual pedestal’ because of how others perceive gamer girls to be, which is ‘easy’ as some would have said a while back, but the truth is? They aren’t. Just like you and I, women and gamer men both suffer from their own forms of stereotyping, and in many ways, it is something that we as a whole have to overcome thanks to mainstream media having shined a light on some rather important issues at hand whether it be a good thing or bad. When thinking about it, there is a form of discipline that should be handled when it comes to the upcoming gamer generations.
Parents need to take note of what is happening now, and working on it. To teach their kids that whether or not a gamer is a male or female, who and what they are doesn’t change, that they still deserve the respect they would receive in person whether they are a gamer or not. This is where our last question came up and many answered it. I asked them, just like the women, how they feel overall about being a gamer and If there is a message for the younger generation, and if is there something they’d like to say for them, and their statements were as listed below in our “bullet like list” as we did before.
- John Doe: I think gaming still has a negative stereotype, albeit, not nearly as bad as the past. It has become a very large part of our culture, something you can see with younger late night hosts like Jimmy Fallon. I’ve had countless parents come into my store and buy video games to play with their kids. But I still see lots of folks who just don’t understand the culture and mock it. Honestly, there is a lot of work to do, but we’ve gone from a long term fad, to a culture that has an average age of 35.
- Anonymous Guy A: I really think gamers need to sit back, realize that we are both male and female and we all enjoy the same form of outlet. That gaming is a right, not an entitlement and that right can be taken away if abused or at least damaged to an extent that it may not be enjoyable at all. As for the younger generations? I really think they need to learn how to co-exist with the women in gaming. They’re now playing a very important role in society, be it gaming or developing or even journalistic methods, they are there and they aren’t leaving anytime soon.
- Anonymous Guy B: Just like the guy before me said. Show respect and dignity to other gamers no matter their gender. It’ll be important in the long run for us to co-exist if we want to break the stereotype that we as gamers are known for.
- Anonymous Guy C: Definitely take into consideration what you do and how you look at things. I think both male and female gamers a like need to break the boundaries of what we are known for and truly show the good in us. This will be important for younger generations to learn.
So what’s your take on this? Do you feel these guys have valid points? Do you want to take a chance and let us know what you think? Feel free to state your comments here, our Facebook Page, our Google+ page or just simply hit us up over on Twitter or simply go to our contact us form and fill it out and we’ll get your answers in on our next “Inside Gaming Culture: Reader Edition” when it comes up!
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.