Inside Gaming Culture: Why We Need #GamerGate and a Gamer Identity Pt. 2

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Written by Dustin Murphy

gamasutra_article

Authors Note: Before reading, please note that I am not associated with #GamerGate nor do I have any hostility or disapproval about any names mentioned within this article.

Last week was one where we took a look into #GamerGate and their reasoning, but also the reason that we need the Gamer Identity as it has slowly begun to ‘phase out’ according to several writers due to the fact that the “old is gone and the new is arising”, but the question that will arise from this is very present – if the gamer identity is dead, what is left? Today that’s what we will take a look at since gaming has become a very complex, diverse, and socially complex culture to try and just simply understand. So what is there to look at?

This week we will discuss this in our second of three chapters of “Why We Need #GamerGate and a Gamer Identity” as the Gamer Identity has been one that many gamers have feel has been attacked by major media publishers. However, to really understand what a gamer is, we need to take a look at the once prototypical stereotype that gamers will be known for. So what do you see when you say that? A nerdy guy, who plays countless hours of Call of Duty, is a heterosexual, and is one that sits for countless hours behind a screen? What about the woman with her hands on a controller, screaming at the game she is playing for being a pain, and or the one that enjoys rather interesting stories like games such as Dragon Age or Mass Effect have to offer?

Years ago, had you asked, the stereotypical gamer would have been a young male as stated before, whom has spent hours playing games such as Super Mario Bros. on his NES or SNES or sits around for countless hours with friends beating eachother up on Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. Oddly, much of this has not changed as players still find themselves enjoying such franchises. Though the diversity of the fans has grown as females have become a rather large striving force in gaming and helps push developers, publishers, and even media critics to take a viewpoint from two different sides, but unfortunately when it comes to a lot of reviewed games, published articles, and even a code of ethics – this is not so.

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So what exactly is a ‘gamer’? Much like the terms used for fans of films, you will often hear terms such as movie-goers, viewing public, and even the term such as cinephiles. So why does ‘gamer’ to some seem like such a derogatory term? For those of you who are unfamiliar – the term ‘gamer’ to marketing strategists it to define a very set group of those who are extremely dedicated to gaming and only gaming. In such terms there have been multiple publishing sites that have decided to drop the term altogether. So why should gamers feel offended? To some, the classic gamers (which include myself), the term wasn’t a term to define us as the stereotypical couch potato who does nothing except play games. Instead, the term was used in order to define a group of people who prefered to play games, enjoy them, discuss them, and even come up with ideas that would make them better. Though in marketing, it is a way that we are placed in a category, one that is used by some companies to define a singular group. To define those whom play games, it feels almost like a shun over the shoulder, but to others, it’s stepping on an invisible line that should not have been crossed. Simply said, the term ‘Gamer’ in some ways is a negative outlook on a general group, and in ways needs redefined, but at this time? Gamers should be proud to call themselves gamers. They are a unique group of people that consist of both men and women, boys and girls, and people of all races.

To be a gamer is to be a unique part of a community that takes joy in interacting with developers, cosplayers, writers, designers, journalists, critics, and men as well as women of many professions. To be a gamer is to be a unique part of the mass media market that has taken the world by storm and has also pushed the rather large conglomerate of people. So how should people look at the term ‘Gamer’? The criteria for defining someone or even qualifying them as a gamer is a very offset for a marketing target audience, but if you were to get two gamers together to discuss games it is an interesting conversation to be had. The questions that will be invoked won’t be about how they started gaming, but instead you will hear them discuss art, music, story, strategy, preference, and even some of their greatest moments in their games or even just as a part of the gaming culture.

Let alone do gamers play games, you will also see them at gaming conventions, discussing technology, growth, ideology, and even gaming theory. Now, the issue is, not just the community that is attacking or not attacking the media, but the marketing that goes behind gaming. Sadly, the interactive medium we know and love has become almost one-dimensional as the gaming community has become bombarded with a stereotype thanks to games such as Battlefield, Call of Duty, and even other annual released titles that follow them by quickly. Another stereotype that tends to land on gamers is the mmo-player, which is one that will stereotype them as lazy, anti-social, and single-minded on what they do. Though what about their hobbies outside of gaming such as reading, going to the movies, going for walks, and even many other hobbies? These are things that are vastly overlooked by the mass media and unfortunately, has had cultural implications against the men and women of gaming. To overlook the stereotyping – many would also have to remember that gamers have a central aspect to them, which is to enjoy games, but rarely do they as a whole, exclude the other aspects of life.

In truth, gamers are a very vocal bunch. You can ask any male or female who does game what their thoughts are on being a gamer and you will find a wide variety of thoughts, opinions, and takes on what a gamer is, but one this is certain: they are a prideful and varied bunch of people.

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Even as a journalist, gamer, critic, and even self-proposed enthusiast to gaming support via forums, I’ve found myself constantly questioning the practices of both mass media as well as developers. Let alone have I also begun to question that of the culture that I am apart of when it comes to being a said enthusiast. To really begin we have to look back at harnessed feelings I’ve had about major publishers, media critics, and even the seemingly-biased categorization from these major media sites.

To start, there has seemingly been a broken set of ethics that have hit the mainstream media, which includes biased reviews, prioritization of triple a titles versus smaller titles and publishers, but do we really see the voice of the gamer appear in their feedback? Unfortunately, at this time, you will find many of them fall silent as the viewers are hushed down, many of their voices falling silent on deaf ears, which leaves them a bit flustered, which can only spell trouble. Thanks to GamerGate, there has been a very mixed voice for those who speak out, but even some using #GamerGate as a shield to harass, threaten, and dehumanize women in the press, development, and or simply part of the mass media personality group themselves. This unfortunately has given Gamers a negative view, but also a very loud voice that has gotten the attention of the media, gamers, and even critics that support the idea that gamers do need a voice, that they are there, and that they are loud. To silence them now, would be like trying to silence a rather upset, angry, and well vocalized group that does not enjoy finding themselves silenced the way they have been in many forms. Even now, however, the #GamerGate crowd has drawn the attention of more men, women, and even some journalists alike.

This crowd of people has, in truth, become a rather worthwhile group to some as they point out the flaws in game development, media practices and even more-so about the ethics in journalism. So what are they wanting? From the ones that I found were positive, they wanted unbiased reviews, truth about relationships between writers, publishers, and developers so to keep reviews honest and completely free of any favoritism. This is something that should be taken in high regard as games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, or even titles such as Grand Theft Auto will always be guaranteed a high rated score and will unfortunately take the spotlight on smaller targets that could use the same sort of attention as well as scoring that they could be very well deserving of. As stated in the previous article that can be found here the triple a titles such as Call of Duty easily trumping the more under the radar titles such as Singularity and Binary Domain, which were rather large sleeper hits among the fan base.

Perhaps it’s time for the gamers to get a voice, for the media to listen, and for their voices to be heard, but this road goes two ways as gamers will need to be less harsh, not hide behind a shield. Stay tuned for our upcoming article that will end this discussion, our stance on why GamerGate and Gamer Identity is needed and what can be done to give both a positive view over time.


About the Writer:

Dustin_BATGRDustin 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.

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