Psyche posted a great Blaugust post on identifying as a gamer. Liore and Belghast have posted on the topic of the gatekeeping that happens for the label. Justice Points spent a podcast discussing the problems with the label.
Me, I feel like I can’t escape the label. Gamer is a very core part of my identity because there are so many aspects of it that I love. I love playing games because I love the feeling of competition. I love the feeling of interaction. I crave the ability to manipulate the game and place my mark on it. And the type of game is largely irrelevant. Video Gaming is certainly the first manifestation of this, having started playing old DOS games at the age of 3 or 4, but soon after I was engaged in sports, and then board games, and then tabletop RPGs. In school I attended competitions of mathematical skill, and later I was part of a jeopardy style game show team. I played CCGs (I still have my old Decipher Star Wars cards) and later Miniature games. World of Warcraft changed my life for the better. Every hobby I have can be tied back into the label of gamer.
So I get pretty defensive about gamers, but right now I’m getting pretty defensive about myself, because I see self-described gamers acting like jerkwads, going on an crusade against the game developer of Depression Quest, harassing her via internet and phone.
This is not an isolated incident. Male gamers use gaming platforms to regularly harass women who they play with, as you can easily find out by reading Fat Ugly or Slutty (That site probably requires every imaginable Trigger Warning). So right now I feel like I’ve adopted this label and now it kinda sucks.
A problem with gamers is how quickly we have evolved from being in a social environment where we were low class (schoolyards) to being in a social environment where we are high class (the internet) that we haven’t really recognized that fact. We keep to our insular boys only club because that’s a safe space for us, but here’s the fact: We have grown up, and now we need to act grown up. People aren’t going to mock us for our hobby, or if they do we need to absorb that and move on because we are no longer children. We need to become the mature adults that we think we are.
And most importantly, we need diversity.
There is a meme that a focus on diversity leads to a reduced quality, especially in a hiring perspective. The thought that affirmative action is bad because it means the best person for the job might not get it. The fact is that affirmative action and diversity are intrinsically beneficial because they bring unique thoughts and ideas from someone of a different background. Yes, no one grew up a like but there are whole subsets of culture that you ignore by not being inclusive.
There are entire subsets of gaming experiences I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for diversity in game design. If you ever complain about how all games play the same, then you should be demanding diversity. And we as a gaming culture should also be clamoring for diversity, and when I see huge swathes of it attacking and harassing the women that want to belong I get angry because it is the majority trying to suppress the minority and dammit, we need to grow beyond this mono-culture we tried to be back in the 90s.
We are better than this. We deserve better than this.
I would rather the whole world get rid of that label due to everyone playing games than go back to the way things were.
Sorry for getting rant-y, if you want to check out more Blaugust stuff, head to the Nook.