Sorry that I have been so quiet lately.
At first I was kept away from by sheer laziness and then a few things in my life became less than awesome and I did/do not feel like sharing them so I just went all CyberHermit.
A few ideas have been percolating in my brain during this time, and one of them was a post on the title/word/label of Gamer, what it once meant to me and what it had come to mean recently. It has been simmering on a back burner for months.
A conversation I had today coincidentally followed by a post that several of my friends have been passing around ignited something and cut right through my malaise.
Words Needed To Be Said!
So this is going to be a bit long and probably it will wander, such is life. Shall we?
I think I have commented before on my mixed feelings RE: the surge in popularity of things that once were obscure.
When I was a kid, even knowing what an Orc was could get you mercilessly teased, and now World of Warcraft is so mainstream it might almost as well be football… or at least rugby. I was talking to a co-worker about this, and about how much easier kids have it these days with nerdiness being kind of hip in general, and more specifically the acceptance of role playing games and the diversity of the players available. Even more specifically the fact that Girls Do Game.
When I was a kid this was an insane idea, even bringing up D&D to a girl was a guarantee of a dateless existence at best, and now I do not know anyone at all who plays in a male only gaming group.
I told my co-worker as much and she mentioned that in high school her friends would not let her role play because she was a girl. This was a concept I found crazy buckets. While I will admit to a prejudice when it comes to women in role playing games, it takes the form of assuming they will be playing an interesting character with emotional depth. (not that plenty of men don’t, but in my experience [and in my prejudice] nearly all women do) I have been proven wrong only a couple times in this, and I am generally very excited when I have a good gender mix in a game.
It was a fun conversation while the business of the day was gotten to. We both moved on to other things, many boxes were lifted, much lettuce was crisped.
Then, at lunch, I found that several of my friends had simultaneously referenced This Post.
I was horrified.
Now I was aware of some incidents of sexism, racism, and other negative behavior that had occurred at game conventions I had attended, but these were usually things a friend or a friend of a friend had witnessed… or stories of the Bad Old Days. Tales from another time or place or involving people who were relics that had somehow survived into the modern age like pleisosaur hiding in the depths, only to emerge for conventions.
I have spent a lot of time today thinking about this.
I am a White Male Player of Games, which means I live on one side of a filter that I rarely have to be aware of. In addition to this filter I swim largely in a bubble of carefully selected comrades (this metaphor is getting out of hand) so there is a lot I will never see. If I am aware of this handful of incidences, then how much is going on that I never see? Tips of icebergs and all that.
Notice I did not call myself a White Male Gamer… This relates to the post I was going to write originally and that needs to be touched on now.
The term Gamer used to have two real meanings. One was that you were a gambler, this term had no relevance to my life so I will just drop it and move on. The second meaning was that you played role playing games, board games, war games, or other tabletop games. The use of Gamer to describe people who played video games came a bit later, but there was a big overlap so using the Venn diagram of “Gamer” was still pretty useful. When a Gamer met a Gamer they had common ground. Both probably had interests the other could relate to and share as well as both being somewhat outside of what society called normal or even acceptable.
Pretty much from second or third grade on I have identified myself first and foremost as a Gamer.
In recent years a few things have happened to make me step away from that term. For one thing, it has come, in the public eye, to mean much more someone who plays video games. And while I do certainly do that, I mostly play one or two older games and generally think the industry stopped producing many worthwhile or fun games with the obsolescence of the Super Nintendo.
For the other big reason I have to bounce back to my misgivings about the increased popularity of things once obscure…
The title of Gamer has become Something Ugly.
By distancing myself from that world I could ignore the rotten elements that had been festering there… or so I thought.
Part of my conversation with my co-worker was about how inclusive the role playing, board gaming, and the like communities were. My perception was that We Were Better Than That.
And we should be.
Gamers, Fandom, Cosplayers, Anime Nerds… People who read too much, people who collect things, people who spend hours poring over obscure information for no reason other than they love it. We should be 100% inclusive and enthusiastic towards anyone who shares our loves and obsessions just our proclivity to have such loves and obsessions! This is true even if they don’t look like us, don’t talk like us, or have the same plumbing we happen to have! The world is full of hate and exclusion and horror, we should be the ones to take care of our own. No Matter Who They Are!
Our hobbies/ways of life are not damaged by the inclusion of others, they are strengthened and improved. Exclusion breeds stagnation and eventually death.
My eyes have been opened, I am going to keep them open. I challenge you all to do the same. If I see this bullshit I am going to act. If you see any of this in the way I treat others, please slap me the fuck down.
Lets play some games.