Last year the gaming press attacked their own audiences with a barrage of articles declaring the death of the “gamer”, and in so doing they blew the #GamerGate brush fire into a towering inferno that still burns today.
Well apparently all those dead gamers turned into zombies and started biting people because now “We’re All Gamers, and It’s Time to Embrace That” according to Chris Scullion over at Vice. At first his piece seems like a celebration of the rise of the gaming industry, but soon it starts to sound eerily familiar:
And yet there are some gamers who are unhappy with the way things are going. Some who feel the definition of that very title—gamer—is being challenged, and they don’t like it.
To some, you aren’t a gamer unless you’re playing a traditional console or PC game: a first-person shooter, an RPG, a 3D platformer. If you’re the sort who only plays mobile games or are addicted to Pirate Kings on Facebook, you apparently don’t count as a gamer.
It’s true, sometimes the Console Wars get a little too heated and some people take the whole PC Master Race thing a little too far, so maybe Scullion merely means to encourage people to embrace each other as fellow travelers on the red brick road to the Princess’ castle.
That would make for a solid, if not somewhat sappy, message, but nope, it’s just a lead-in to talk about sexism as usual:
It’s worse if you’re female. Since the late 1980s the term gamer has been mainly associated with males aged between 15 and 30. The term “girl gamer” has done nothing to help this, pushing the idea that a woman taking part in a traditionally male-dominated pastime should be considered an exception, with their own special term to point that out.
Because of all this, the idea of a businesswoman playing Candy Crush Saga on the train to work is about as far from the definition of a gamer as some can imagine.
The term “girl gamer” has done nothing. Period. Full stop.
It doesn’t push any notion of what should or should not be; it only reflects what is. Girl gamers are awesome, and they’re becoming less rare every day, but they’re still a minority of the people who would consider themselves gamers. That makes female gamers exceptional, and it’s only when the social justice mafia gets involved that being exceptional turns into a pejorative.
The businesswoman playing Candy Crush Saga to kill time on the way to work is about as far from the definition of a gamer as she would probably imagine, and that’s why gamers don’t count her, not because she’s a woman or using a mobile device. Neither she nor the assorted people he goes on to list likely have any particular enthusiasm for video games themselves, so they can hardly be considered video game enthusiasts, i.e. gamers.
Without that enthusiasm, a person wouldn’t care enough about the industry to bring up the kind of issues Scullion then twists into a fear of diversity:
There are some who believe the Wii was the beginning of the problem, that it was Nintendo’s attempt to embrace a new demographic of so-called-casual non-gamers that warped the landscape of the games industry and brought about an onslaught of party, brain-training, and fitness games. They believe this growth in casual gaming in turn led to the growth of mobile gaming and the evil of free-to-play.
Two things spring to mind. The first, frankly, is shush. Not only are the fears from some self-proclaimed gamers that their precious hobby is being taken from them by dreaded women and casuals completely unfounded, they’re single-minded and annoying to gamers like me who are adamant of one thing: they don’t speak for us.
“Shut up,” he explained.
Gamers don’t fear new people entering the industry, especially not women. Their concern is that game companies are hurting themselves and the industry by sacrificing their core base of support to chase casual fads, which is exactly what happened with Nintendo. The Wii U is a bust because the Wii Sports grandmas predictably had no interest in snapping up the new console while core gamers went off to Sony and Microsoft to get the experience Nintendo wouldn’t provide.
So despite his protestations to the contrary, the horde of Candy Crushers and Farmvillagers he’s touting don’t overlap much with the rest of the video game industry, and while it’s great to see the stigma slowly fading from video games, it’s articles like these that keep resurrecting it by convincing people there’s an alliance of angry young men trying to keep girls out of the treehouse.
When you boil it all down, this is really just the kinder, gentler version of “Gamers are dead.” Instead of killing the word and the identity behind it, Scullion would merely render it meaningless by applying it to anyone whoever so much as looked at a game. Or to paraphrase Syndrome from The Incredibles, when everyone is a gamer, no one will be.
Amusingly enough, had the gaming press thought to word it this cordially last year they might have succeeded in squashing #GamerGate before it became much of a threat, but like most villains, they got caught monologuing instead.
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