Editorial: Games, Girls, Popular Myths
By this time, even the most optimistic gamer who continually sees the world through a pair of diamond-encrusted rose-colored glasses must admit that certain stereotypes never die. The stigma commonly attached to a video game fan has altered and shifted over the years, but while the industry and its main audience has changed drastically in the past few decades, the mass populace still sees a straightforward bottom line. Even though it's more mainstream now, and even though the average age of the avid gamer is well over 30, it's still just a "geek's hobby." It's for the kids who couldn't get girlfriends when they were growing up, and would rather stay home with a controller on a Saturday night than hit the nightclubs. It's this misconception that continues to irk me to this day, even though most of my friends have just come to accept the inevitable...the fuel that runs the masses is a depressing mix of ignorance and stupidity.
Although some members of the aforementioned populace will now concede that games aren't just for kids anymore, the other part of the stereotype is amazingly, um...sticky. My friends are my age, which means they're all looking to settle down, start a family, or at the very least, find a relatively nice girl that they can stand the sight of for more than ten consecutive seconds. These people range from teachers to programmers to warehouse workers to veterinarians to those in the armed services. They come from all walks of life and many have vastly differing views on religion, politics, society, and of course, gaming. Yes, they all still play video games - although most don't play to the extent they did back in school; real life drains time away - but gaming remains a tricky subject, and I have just one question. Why do many women assume that we would rather be home playing games than going out? Why did some of our parents assume this? Is it because they all view gaming as a potentially addictive habit that can completely override any other wants and desires? Whatever the answer is, I find the entire situation infuriating.
Nobody I know - and this includes the dude who played Everquest 40 hours per week in college and is now married with a kid - has ever, ever, refused to do something social for the sake of playing a video game. It has never once happened. I've only done it occasionally, and that was simply because I wanted to avoid certain people at a party. But for whatever reason, many women continue to entertain the notion that if we're out at the club or bar, it's because someone "dragged" us away from our games. In other words, we'd rather be doing that than talking to them, which immediately implies that if a relationship were to occur, they'd always play second fiddle to a controller and a TV. As many a gamer on the prowl will tell you, this can be a huge obstacle, especially if you don't meet many women who play games. They can only rely on the mass media for their basic knowledge, and that, as we all know, is not an enviable position to be in. It's not their fault, but it's still insanely annoying.
Then again, perhaps I'm off base. Maybe there are a lot of 20-somethings and even 30-somethings out there who really would rather stay home and play games than risk a date. All I know is that it seems entirely inaccurate from my angle. How's about yours?
P.S. See that girl up there? She'd never play "second fiddle" to me or any game I own...er...well, unless I was in the midst of stealing my Genji items from Elmdor in FFT. Then it's, "yeah, sit yourself down over there and apply some more lipstick or read Cosmo or something. I shall be with you in a moment. ;)
11/7/2008 Ben Dutka