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#gamergate a woman is always to blame antifeminism are these guys 12 years old? drama kings entitled babies evil SJWs evil women gamebros gender policing men who should not ever be with women ever misogyny MRA no games for girls no girls allowed playing the victim

Attention #GamerGaters: Gaming is not YOUR hobby

My little game collection
My little game collection. Yes, I’m a terrible photographer.

Ever since the bizarre social backlash now known as #GamerGate first erupted in August, we’ve heard a lot of alarmist, entitled nonsense from self-described gamers who are pig-biting mad that so-called Social Justice Warriors and, you know, girls, are invading what is inevitably described as “our hobby.”

Thing is, guys, it’s not your hobby. At least it’s not only yours.

I don’t call myself a “gamer” – largely because so many of those who do embrace the label are such immature assholes – but, guess what, I play games too.

Indeed, as you can see from the picture above, I own more than 100 console games, some of which I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to. Over the years I’ve owned five different consoles – seven, if you count replacement consoles bought because I wore out the originals.

I first encountered video games in high school, playing Space Invaders in the basement of the University of Illinois student union. I wasn’t very good, and gravitated more to air hockey and pinball and other purely analog games instead. Still, by the end of the 80s I’d been bitten by the electronic game bug – starting with the bootleg version of Tetris I installed on my Mac in grad school to distract me from the tedium of actually working on my dissertation.

In other words, I’ve been playing games, off and on, for longer than many #GamerGaters have been alive.

But I’m sure many of these people wouldn’t consider me a “real” gamer at all. I’m not what you’d call hardcore. I’m basically a console gamer – I don’t even have Steam installed on my laptop. And I’m always little behind the time. I haven’t shelled out for an Xbox One or a Playstation 4. I didn’t beat Destiny ten hours after it was first released; hell, I probably won’t even pick it up for at least another six months or so when the price drops a bit. And I’m not a full-time gamer either. While I regularly get obsessed with certain games and play them to death, I also take breaks from gaming for months on end.

I also play a lot of the “casual” games that hardcore “gamer” types dismiss as not “real” games – addictive little timewasters like Bejeweled and Peggle and Candy Crush – as well as decidely un-hardcore games like Super Monkey Ball (which I played mostly for its billiards minigame) and Sega Bass Fishing. (That odd device in the picture of my game collection? A Dreamcast fishing controller.)

And while I play a lot of shooters – as you’ll see if you look closely at the picture of my collection – I often play on the easy setting, and I never play multiplayer at all. My favorite games tend to be those that give me the option to goof off for hours on end. I don’t even want to imagine how much time I’ve spent in the various Grand Theft Auto game universes, driving off cliffs on “taxi missions” gone wrong and generally causing trouble. (It would be nice if these games were less blatantly sexist, but Rockstar sure as hell knows how to design compellingly immersive open worlds.)

So, yeah, I’m pretty far from hardcore. But, you know what, angry gamebros? This is my hobby as much as it is yours. I may not fit your gamer stereotype, but I play games too, and the money I spend on gaming is as green as yours.

And there are a lot of us out here – game players who look a lot different from the angry gamers now ranting about evil Social Justice Warriors trying to destroy their supposedly male preserve. Hell, the comments section of this blog if full of them, many of them aficionados of RPGs and obscure interesting indie titles I’ve never heard of.

As Misha wrote in the comments to a recent post here, addressing one of the many gamebros out there incensed that non-dudes are invading a gaming world he sees as rightfully his,

Newsflash: It is not YOUR hobby, OR the hobby of your hapless diversity-hating gamebros. The individuals who want to see games evolve beyond depictions of harmful cultural stereotypes and tired sexist tropes also, wait for it, Play. Games. I play games. I am so excited by the recent footage released for FFXV that I could puke. You do not own them, and you do not speak for me.

Me neither.

Another commenter in the same thread noted that women have been playing video games from the beginning:

What I find so ridiculous is the fact that these guys act as though women playing/creating games is a new thing. I’m 3-freaking-6 years old. I’ve been gaming since the Atari 2600. I OWNED a copy of the ET game – yeah, that same one that most of those putzes only got to read about being discovered in a landfill in whereverthehell.

I’ve been a part of gaming allllll this time. Just because they didn’t want to recognize that or acknowledge my existence or the fact that I was right there, the entire time, playing in the WoW beta, playing in the Guild Wars beta, playing in the City of Heroes beta — that’s not my damn problem. They were the ones living in their own happy little penis-centric, he-man girl-gamer-haters club while I was over here, doing my own thing and having fun.

Their obliviousness is nobody’s fault but their own.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants added:

I’ve been gaming since the days of Pong, ELIZA, Merlin, Space Invaders, and Pac Man. Back then it was something both boys and girls did after school. It wasn’t seen as nerdy – in fact, the arcades were where the delinquent kids hung out.

It seems like today’s crop of misogynist gamers have their core identity way too wrapped up in being the coveted marketing demographic. They want to be pandered to and flattered with hypermasculine characters and alpha storylines.

It’s kind of hilarious that they’re treating this whole thing like it’s a RL video game, complete with black ops, sockpuppeting “missions”, evil shadowy enemies, rallying cries of threats to individual liberty, and an anything-goes mentality of inflicting maximum damage on opponents. Except the consequences of stalking and harassment are real, and permanent. In their imaginations they’re a group of beleaguered rebels taking a brave stand for freedom, but they’re actually the bad guys. They’re fighting against social justice and ruining a lot of people’s lives in the process.

It’s just a hobby, fercrissakes. I can’t imagine, say, model railroad enthusiasts getting all bent out of shape about more people taking up their hobby, and embarking on a hate campaign to define it as for old people ONLY. These guys really need to grow up and get some perspective.

Amen.

Elsewhere in the thread, M. the Social Justice Ranger described her experience,

I haven’t been gaming for quite as long as some of the other women here, but I first picked up a keyboard in 1989 and a controller in 1990, so it’s certainly been a while. Sure, I prefer single-player to multiplayer, Nintendo to PlayStation or Xbox and platformers, RPGs, pet sims and puzzle games to shooters, but I do consider my hobby to be a large part of my identity, so other gamers are usually (not always, but usually) willing to count me as one of their own…

… Until they discover that not only have I committed the cardinal sin of being born with a vagina, but I’m only interested in others who’ve committed the same sin. Then all of that flies out the window for rape threat after rape threat after rape threat.

Sigh.

I don’t want to destroy their hobby, I just want to enjoy our shared hobby…

#GamerGaters, is this really that hard to understand?

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greyskye
greyskye
8 years ago

Is there some way to boost the signal of the non #gamergater voices? Can we have a petition to sign or something? It’s garbage that these angry children are making such a lot of noise and the VAST majority of us reasonable people are being made to look bad by them. I really resent that they think they speak for gamers.

Godless11B
Godless11B
8 years ago

My sons got past “MINE! MINE! MINE!” before they turned five.

boumbette
boumbette
8 years ago

It’s interesting, I seem to remember that games weren’t seen as a dude only hobby in the 80s/90s. I don’t know if it’s specific to where I grew up, but people who think that girls/women playing video games is a new thing should quit getting their data in TV shows and learn some actual history. Life isn’t a stupid jock/nerd/popular girl drama triangle.

Leah
Leah
8 years ago

Not to mention, the angry gamers haven’t created a single one of the games they claim to own. In fact, they probably haven’t ever created anything at all.

Cassie's Major Domo
Cassie's Major Domo
8 years ago

It’s interesting, I seem to remember that games weren’t seen as a dude only hobby in the 80s/90s.

Yes, this was the time when I was playing games, and I don’t recall a massive “boys only club” feeling. Playing Mario Kart was almost always a fully co-ed activity, and nobody thought anything odd about that.

c-dizzle
c-dizzle
8 years ago

Yeah, I’m 34 and have been playing console and computer games regularly since 1988 and the first time I tried Super Mario Bros. was 1986 at my babysitter’s house. I remember when my grandmother bought me the NES and then my hamster chewed through one of my controller cables, leaving only the one. I have three games consoles plugged in to my TV right now, for goodness’ sake.

The original Oregon Trail played on the Apple IIe in all its green and black glory remains one of my favorite games ever.

These people are legit idiots.

cloudiah
8 years ago

I played Pong for hours when it first came out. I had a great game on my first Apple desktop that involved creeping through a haunted (?) castle, dodging mummies, flaming rocks, bats, etc. The graphics were terrible, all black and white, but it was so fun I could lose whole days to it on the weekends. Now I’m trying to get the hang of this city-building game called Pharaoh that I think Falconer told me about. It’s fun, but I keep destroying whole civilizations. Which is also fun.

But I would never call myself a gamer.

A Wolverine
A Wolverine
8 years ago

If I remember right the first game with a significant female playerbase was Pac-Man and Ms.Pac-Man was partially intended as a thank you to those women.

Alex
Alex
8 years ago

You’ve got a nice collection there. If you had Xbox Live, I’d play Borderlands with you.

I play video games. I’m excited about the last Dark Souls 2 DLC. I sort of self-describe as a gamer, in the same way I self-describe as a reader and self-describe as a TTRPG player. It’s a factual label based on some of my hobbies.

I missed the boat on the whole “gamer misogyny thing.” It never occurred to me. Never understood how widespread it was until the last three or four years. I have personally encountered very little of it–a 14-year-old complaining about playing as a woman on one game, in XBL chat–but I also know that women run into it much, much more.

I don’t have much patience for bigotry of any stripe because I also self-describe as a rationalist.

Anyway. Cheers, Dave. Others are in the same boat.

Edward K. White (@EdwardKWhite1)

I played my first game of Pong in a bar in the 1970’s. I played my first computer game in a computing center in 1971 while waiting for a Fortran program to run. I have played Adventure on a DEC PDP. I played cRPG’s, MMO’s, and FPS’s. But I have now given up on gaming. My Steam account is dormant. All because these mysoginistic “gamers” have left such a bad taste in my mouth if want nothing to do with videogames.

Lids
8 years ago

Yeah I’m a console only gamer (unless you count h games and dating sims and The Sims which I play on my computer) and between that and being a cis girl, asexual, and a feminist I’ve had some pretty ugly encounters with male gamers. Male gamers are the reason I left the world of MMORPGs almost as soon as I discovered it lol.

Lids
8 years ago

I’m pretty sure my first game was a Barney game for one of the Sega systems.

barbarageiger
8 years ago

I was born in 1974 and I remember being absolutely shocked and amazed by pong. Suddenly there was something you could do to your television that made it interactive. The absolute joy of turning the knob and watching the screen change because of something I did has been amazing me for the past 36 years of my life. Television had always been read only, and with one device it became interactive, and that had never been possible before. I grew up in a house where my mom finished every level of every FPS until her score showed she’d found everything to be found on the hardest level and my dad played solitaire.

It had been her Pong game.

fruitloopsie
fruitloopsie
8 years ago
Lids
8 years ago

And don’t even get me started on not liking “the right” and “classic” games. I’ve been told I’m not a real gamer because I don’t like the Starfox series. “You can’t call yourself a true gamer unless you’ve played x game.” Give me a break, I thought being a gamet simply meant you played games. Not any specific games, just video games. If all you play is The Sims or Candy Crush you’re still a gamer as far as I’m concerned.

Michael McG
Michael McG
8 years ago

*moine moine moine moine moine moine moine moine*

Michael McG
Michael McG
8 years ago

Candy Crush is NP-hard

Now, those are some hardcore gamer nerds…;)

tinyorc
8 years ago

I was going to write a post about #GamerGate, but I was too busy modding Skyrim and trying to sort out custom key bindings on Dark Soul II.

(Which, incidentally, seems to be a nightmare to play with keyboard + mouse, no matter what I try. Should I just invest in a controller? THESE ARE MY QUESTIONS.)

Michael McG
Michael McG
8 years ago

More hardcore gamer nerds:

Bejeweled, Candy Crush and other Match-Three Games are (NP-) Hard

If my jokes turn out to be jokes in my head I apologize…

J.J
J.J
8 years ago

One of my fondest childhood memories is the N64. And Ocarina of Time. I love that game. I will have fond memories of that game until death, and of Mario Kart and blue shelling people and flying of Rainbow Road. And I once spent so long at the Sims I realized it was three AM and I hadn’t moved for at least four hours. I play games too, and all of my girlfriends did. We’ve always been here, and we will be here, so if they want to stay in their FPS bubble and not let any ladies in, that’s fine, but women buy games too, and they can’t ‘own’ a hobby. That’s like saying women own…I don’t know, knitting. Or jewelry making. It’s a hobby, anyone is allowed to do it for fun or profit. I mean, hello, I don’t press buttons or keys with my genitals! (Also Candy Crush manages to annoy the hell out of me and get me to play it in massive fits of boredom simultaneously, friggin candy.)

Nancy
Nancy
8 years ago

Luuuuuv the Ed Anger shoutout!

Andrew Johnston
8 years ago

Can I join in on this one? Because I may have been just a little obsessed with video games when I was a kid. I was born around the time of the industry collapse, got a Game Boy at age 4, and that’s where it started. Over the years, I’ve owned five home consoles and four handheld systems. I mostly rented and borrowed, but I’ve still owned between 150 and 200 games over the years (my current collection is more humble – perhaps 50 or 60). I was subscribed to enough gaming magazines that I had a bookshelf that was solely for keeping them organized. I owned strategy guides for games I didn’t own – hell, I had a guide for Final Fantasy Tactics for about five years before a copy passed through my hands. I had my name featured in the Arena section of the old Nintendo Power at least a half-dozen times. I submitted homemade strategy guides as school projects on more than one occasion – and, might I add, got A’s on them.

Now, I bring this up not out of some terribly misplaced sense of pride. This is to demonstrate that, in one of those “geekier than thou” contests you have to play these days to be taken seriously by the “hardcore” crowd, I could definitely win. Hell, I could still hold my own even if restricted to recent stuff – why Steam informs me that I’ve played Civilization 5 for a total of almost 600 hours, and Team Fortress 2 for well over 300, and I see no reason to doubt those numbers. I also regularly compete in local tournaments – in fact, I won a THPS 3 tournament last week. However, I haven’t felt the need to define myself that way since high school. I’m over the obsession. Now, I write books, I go out to shows to support my local artists, I practice photography (easier if I had a decent camera, but I do what I can with what I have), I collect old LP’s – I play video games only when I’m bored and between projects.

If you ask me, the rampant misogyny on display with #GamerGate is not the only problem. The problem is that these men have decided that being well-rounded human beings and having real-world accomplishments are unnecessary – possibly even distractions. If these fellas would meet some new people, maybe travel a bit, they might get enough perspective to stop freaking out over the prospect that girls are sharing their hobby.

fromafar2013
8 years ago

I was going to write a post about #GamerGate, but I was too busy modding Skyrim

SAME

Seriously though, I started a new game with the Alternate Starts mod, and I’m having entirely too much fun being a travelling alchemy merchant instead of the Dragonborn. My other character is a fighter though. I play on Legendary, with maxed out Deadly Dragons and Deadly Creatures mods, and she can snipe a dragon out of the air with a single arrow. But if she gets seen she’s good as dead ;D

Aaaaaand I could go on forever spamming the thread with Skyrim mods… resisting… urge…

Another Holocene Human
Another Holocene Human
8 years ago

Hi, on/off lurker here, used to follow Manboobz and kinda dropped WHTM because too depressing but this gamergate crap reeled me back in. Mostly because y’all mock it so deliciously.

Finally saw the songaday video* and I had to delurk and comment about CHS’ little smirk in her video, what is up with that? They say that’s a sign that someone is lying and kind of seeing if the audience swallows it.

I actually used to have respect for this woman, you know, back in about 1994. Of course getting a job with AEI kind of gives away the game, doesn’t it? I had a lot of problems with feminist leadership and rhetoric in the 1980s and I did read critics like CHS and embarrassing, Paglia, quite seriously. While we’ve come a long way, baby, some of the same issues (the dominance of the upper middle class white college educated female) are still with us. Hope I don’t offend anybody by saying so, but it’s true and I wish it weren’t. (See: Jezebel.)

*-very very talented and funny!

Anyway, not trying to derail anybody, it’s just that this is the first time I’ve ever seen Sommers, not just read something she wrote. I don’t know if she changed or she’s always been like this, but the dishonesty is palpable and I’m really shocked. My younger self really wanted to believe that there was a loyal opposition, that two sides could have an honest and fruitful debate — thesis, antithesis, synthesis. And maybe that’s true of some things. But today’s “conservative” (=reactionary) in the US is a tribalist (in a bad way), dishonest, amygdala-driven or driving, grifting or griftee, brutal authoritarian with no ideas and nothing to contribute but “Kill it!!! KILL IT WITH FIRE my pants are wet.” I’m disgusted.

Jules
Jules
8 years ago

I’m so glad there’s validation to my experience: I too never got the memo or feeling that games were a “boys thing” – my sisters, mom, and female friends played, just like boys. In school the whole class would go to the computer lab and play Oregon Trail, etc. I remember Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. I remember Frogger. We owned the original Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. And oh the days of Pac-Man and Tetris!

I’ve always played as long as I can remember – computer games, board games, card games, tabletop role-playing games, Atari, Nintendo, all Playstations, Wii, and Xbox. I’ve played casual games and RPGs, FPS and all the rest. It wasn’t some nerdy subculture. It was normal for girls to play. It was normal to play, period. It wasn’t a boy thing when I was growing up. Or maybe it was to them, and they just failed to interact with or notice girls or something. Maybe it’s this new generation. I don’t know.

The only thing that seemed unusual at one point was for adult men to play. But that generation grew up and the games followed (until now when there seems to be a dearth of age-appropriate awesome games for my young nephew besides the Lego games – of course he wants the R-rated AAA games that get all the money and marketing :/).

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