Monday, October 09, 2006

You Go, Gamer!

I would consider myself a gamer. The video game industry has been a huge influence on my life from childhood to parenthood. My father was a gamer, who even owned an arcade as a younger man, before I was born. The last machines, a unremembered pinball unit and a standup Qix were the first things walking in the door of his place. I even had a two-screen, six-player TMNT Turtles in Time arcade machine, which made me the coolest kid among my friends. Yes, I am a gamer.

Today I denounce my fellow gamers, and I call out to those of you with any backbone to stand with me in decrying those among us who, basically, just make us look bad.

The subject of debate is a recent survey making statements about the percentage of females among the online gaming community. The surprising results state that 64% of online gamers are female, and the response to this news is just as surprising: outright denial. Male gamers seem completely impossible to accept that they are not the majority of gamers, while they have been simultaniously complaining about the lack of female gamers for years.

Apparently, someone forgot to include a requirement that they be "real" gamers.

Over at the popular gamer blog and online comic, My Extra Life, the story was given with a note of disbelief and the commentors followed suit. Reading through the comments, you can see such Male Stereotype Improving comments as the following samples:
  • The survey sounds fishy, unless they included "free games that are in the browser or games like second life." It still sounds fishy.
  • "No. I am a minority darn it!
    I will not play with 64% of other women!

    Maybe its a typo, maybe they meant 64% of gamers are kids.."

  • "women under 16 years of age sound like dudes"
  • "I agree.. 90% of them are playing bejeweled right now."
  • "they’re not the kinds of games correlated with the “gamer” title"
Neopets is probably one of the older and most popular online games around, and any real "gamer" will correct you if you say its a real game. It is only a kids toy. Or, a chick thing, if you find someone really intelligent.

I had my say over there, so I'll quote myself now: "I am disgusted by my fellow gamers’ responses at this announcement. I have heard nothing but denial, attacks on the survey, insults towards are female gamers, and downright insulting behavior coming from my demographic. We have to find all sorts of reasons why the survey is inaccurate, or counted things that “aren’t real games”, because we aren’t man enough to admit to not being on top of something we long thought was our own. Get a life and just admit the truth. It doesn’t matter if you play Halo or Scrabble, and its sexist and degrading to assume thats the only kind of game those women would play. Degrading to other male gamers, who have to be lumped in with the deplorable comments being made around here.

Of course more women would play online games! Lots of women love to game, but its not like they can play among other gamers face-to-face. When’s the last time you treated your buddy’s girlfriend as an equal in a game of Halo? No, she goes on as a handicap. No one takes her seriously. So, what is so to do to satisfy the thirst for games? Play online, where no one even realizes she has breasts. That’s why 64% of online gamers are women: because you don’t know and you hunt them down in Counter-Strike just as ruthlessly as anyone else."

One of my best friends is more of a gamer than I can claim to be. I just can't justify spending as much on games as he does, and my buddy has three times as many kids as me. His wife can't hold her own against the worst of us on the old Halo nights (which I miss so much), but she could kick my butt in a game of online poker or a few rounds of guitar hero.

Besides all the response making me ashamed of my fellow male gamers and wishing I could avoid the association until this blows over, I found the comment about Second Life to be pretty confusing. I understand why you don't consider a Scrabble game on Yahoo to be a "real game", even though I don't agree, but Second Life is one the greatest acheivements in gaming history. What gives, traveller18?

Ironically, when I sought out some stock photos for this post, over at stock.xchng, I turned up both of those photos of girls gaming, but not a single one of a male gamer.

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I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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