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Holy melodramatic Batman. This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever seen. The identity of “gamer” is a nebulous thing that we can’t lump any single group into for one thing, and it isn’t going anywhere. For another matter, it is a descriptor, not something people identify with – even if they think they are. Nobody is a “gamer,” in the way we all immediately think about. There are people that treat games as a hobby, some more extremely than others.
I have spoken about this in the past. Identifying as a “gamer” right now is both meaningless and exclusionary at the same time, for a couple of reasons.
Nobody knows what “gamer” means. You play a lot of games? You discuss games intellectually while playing them? You debate about different narrative styles? Or do you just play games to relax in your free time? Which one is it? I don’t know. I even call myself a gamer sometimes and don’t know what the hell I am talking about.
“Gamer” is a charged term right now. Those that use it to describe themselves using it look at it fondly. Those that completely misunderstand it look at it negatively. Look at any newscast on a major network that attempts to discuss gaming and you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Being a gamer is not a thing. Being a person that plays games is. Just like with movies, music, books, and everything else, there will be varying degrees of what that means. This is no different.
People are not going to stop describing themselves as someone who plays games. It just isn’t going to happen, and to say so is incredibly naive (and/or an attempt to sensationalize a fabricated issue). For this to be a true “The End of Gamers” it would have to be an end to the industry altogether. People will continue to play games, and those that play games can be described as one group, the name of which right now is “gamer.” Whether or not they will be called “gamers” in the future is irrelevant, those that want to play games will continue to do so as long as games are made.
And what an incredibly convenient topic to suddenly spring up considering what has recently happened (more on why Journalists want to deflect here). Journalists, who have been getting a terrible rap lately, are suddenly turning on who, but those that are criticizing them? Articles discussing this are vilifying those that disagree with them. If they can make that one group, that is almost impossible to define, look bad, then they win. Their poor journalism can continue, as well as their refusal to recognize and follow ethics.
What is so infuriating about this whole thing is that the dramatized “The End of Gamers” is something that does not exist. Those writing about it probably even don’t believe it – not truly. It is heightening the response to recent allegations against journalists. So not only are those that disagree with journalists on the issues of the past few weeks misogynists and sexists, but they are also sadly grasping at something to identify with because the “forward thinking” and “progressive” individuals are becoming the majority in gaming.
How is that the case? Oh, because recent studies showed that there are more adult women than teenage boys that play games. Because of this, the “gamers” feel threatened. More adults playing games, does leave a higher chance for more levelheadedness. Sure. But, this is an example of something sounding really good, but holding no real value. They make false connections as there is no way to quantify an increase in progressiveness to an extremely undefined and nebulous group. Does an influx of adults who happen to be women lead to progressive and forward thinking? Do all teenage boys engage in the maliciousness that a few have highlighted recently? Without concrete examples to all of that, there is no way that claim holds any significance.
Another convenient part to this argument is the fact that people, like me, are arguing for a better adherence to ethics in game journalism because we are afraid that the male hegemony in gaming is disappearing, which the Zoe Quinn controversy is evidence of. There is no way that the mountains of evidence against her, other incidents, and other journalists means anything. No, we are more concerned with male dominance.
I will say it again: I don’t care that Zoe Quinn happened to be a woman. If we had heard something of a male developer sleeping with women journalists to receive better press, I would have been just as angry. The issue would be EXACTLY the same. There would be no change. Well, that is not entirely true. It would not have been as big of a deal because he was a man. And I say that because he would definitely not have tons of people rushing to defend him for no apparent reason, like what happened with Zoe Quinn (seriously, I still don’t understand why). So in a sense, this did become an issue because she was a woman, but only because certain groups, and many gaming journalists, decided to make it a significant issue. Without the crazy accusations of misogyny leveled at all who disagreed, this would be far less of a big deal. The discussion on ethics would continue, but it would not be seen nearly as negatively.
The irony here is that it is journalists who make these kinds of claims about male hegemony and make this a sexist issue. I’m not concerned with it. I don’t care if males remain the majority group in gaming, as long as interesting games continue to be produced.
This is just another heightened example of deflection. I’m not concerned with misogyny, nor sexism, as I don’t see them as significant to this issue, but they surely do want to make it the core of the issue. What I am concerned with are things like journalistic integrity.
I do not deny that there are hate groups out there – but they exist in all opinions of an issue. Those that make threats and harass those that disagree with them are despicable people who should be severely punished in some way.
Those writing about “The End of Gamers” would have you believe that by “gamers” they are referring directly to those sorts of groups. That is a total lie. Why not refer to them as exactly what they are, hate groups (though I doubt they are a homogeneous group), or extremely disturbed individuals? By using “gamers” and the way the term is used now, they are intentionally lumping all people that play games into one group.
It is an incredibly smart move and an interesting step in the progression. First, those calling out journalists were misogynists, now we are a group of people desperately trying to hold on to games as a part of our identity. That because pretty much anyone can play a game, which was not the case in the past, we are reaching out to hold on to our little clique. We don’t want newcomers, gaming is an exclusive club. VIPs only.
Is it just me, or is that something constructed to sound intellectual and poignant, but makes no sense? Right now there is some debate between “hardcore gamers” and “casual gamers.” That is the extent of any kind of identity crisis. Everyone will continue to play games in the way that they like to, regardless of who makes up the community. Every community expands and has its own sub-communities within it. At worst, more will retreat to sub-communities and adhere to more ridiculous names than “hardcore.”
And how in the hell does any of this have to do with the accusations against Zoe Quinn? What does the fact that certain terrible individuals decided to attack and harass her have to do with the idea that the gamer identity is dying? Does that sound crazy to anyone else but me? This is a perfect example of using the actions of a few to condemn the many. I’m sure there are plenty of people in Ferguson right now who don’t want to be lumped in with those that riot, burn down homes and business, and loot the town. Is everyone in Ferguson barbaric because those things happened? Of course not.
This is all just an attempt to change the current issue and force a new discussion away from an examination of gaming journalism ethics. A red herring.