I think a lot about video games. I care greatly about gaming as a hobby, as an artistic medium, as a culture. I very much identify myself as a gamer.
Sometimes I am embarrassed by this. Not because of some idea that a 29 year old shouldn’t love gaming so much. Oh no. I have no problem admitting I love games. I love video games. I also love super heroes, Lego, Pez dispensers, cartoons, Harry Potter and have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedspread.
Nope, no shame there. What embarrasses me is the behaviour of other gamers. Anyone who has spent anytime in an online gaming community will have their own stories about ignorant racist jerks screaming obscenities at everyone. Usually I ignore them. Sometimes though, I get a little angry.
Recently a Kickstarter for GaymerCon has begun to gather some attention from the media and while I’m sure most of the gamer community thinks it’s a great idea, predictably the vocal minority of ignorant bigoted gamers have kicked up a bit of stink and made me a little upset.
I’ve been thinking of starting a Gaming Blog over on Destructoid.
This gave me a topic for my first post, a little rant discussing the white straight male privilege.
This whole ‘GaymerCon’ thing has come about at quite an opportune moment hasn’t it? It has leapt into the public awareness while we’re all still discussing the Chik-Fil-A controversy, and really it hasn’t been that long since a lot of us were upset at Dragon Age 2 for having a gay male character hit on us while we were trying to simply kill some dragons and stuff. If the gay gaming issue is hot right now, then the ‘females in gaming’ issue is boiling. Numerous articles on Lara Croft’s re-imagining, many more on feminine role-models, and umpteen discussions about how much skin characters in games show can all be found on any gaming site at the moment. Let’s not even start on the uproar that Resident Evil 5 caught when it was revealed you play a white guy who mows down hundreds of African zombies with a machine gun.
It seems one can’t look at a gaming blog or pick up a magazine these days without reading about something that gaming is doing wrong. When did this happen? Remember when games were just made for fun? When they made games way we liked them and nobody got upset and we all got to play awesome games all the time? Wasn’t that sweet?
Why can’t gaming go back to being just like that?
The reason is that those days were only sweet for us.
For every game that we loved because it was made with us in mind, someone else felt left out. For every commercial that showed us some sweet violence and cleavage, somebody else was turned off. I know every game can’t please everyone, but there is a definite trend towards every game being made to please us.
So what’s the problem with that? We’re the most common market for video games? If they made games to appeal to other markets they would be excluding us! How dare they exclude us?
You probably see were I’m going with this.
The problem is when you’re privileged enough to have be born a white straight male it’s very easy to forget that you are privileged.
We’re used to being that privileged, so we don’t always feel it. It’s like breathing, 99% of the time we don’t notice it.
Sorry to everyone who is now uncomfortably aware of their breathing.
Every now and then, this makes us act like douche-bags to people who are not as privileged. Often we don’t mean to, we don’t get why it’s such a big deal to be something that isn’t a straight white male.
Why do gay people need a parade? Where’s the straight parade?
What’s with feminism? Where’s manism?
Why should I give to charity? Nobody gives me anything.
Why should we be trying to make games that specifically appeal to people who aren’t me? Nothing’s stopping others from playing the games I play?
I can understand, you don’t realise your being a bigot when you say things like this, you think you’re actually championing the idea of everyone getting treated fairly. We are so used to the world being catered to us, that we get really put out when something happens that is not catered to us. Sometimes it’s worth reminding yourself that every day is a straight white man parade and you have been given more than enough already you entitled dick-head.
I apologise, I shouldn’t have called you a name. You probably didn’t like that. I wouldn’t. In fact you probably aren’t too happy with me telling you off simply for being a straight white male. It’s not your fault you were born privileged, and I really shouldn’t make assumptions on who you are just based on where you come from. You are correct, I shouldn’t, and it’s not nice. Let’s just remember that while it may be irritating when people lump us together in the way that I have above, it happens very rarely. To some people it happens daily.
I am a straight white male gamer, and I like to believe I am a sympathetic, open minded, and inclusive person. I am also aware that many people I can clearly see are not sympathetic, open minded, or inclusive think about themselves the same way I do.
You probably feel the same way about yourself. Well just for a moment stop feeling good about yourself and allow this hypothetical scenario some thought. What if you are not open minded at all? What if you only believe you are? What if your position in society and your life experiences thus far have not given you the perspective required to really view yourself accurately. What if your world view is too narrow, how would you know?
So the question is, how do we know if we actually are being open minded? It’s tricky, I don’t think there’s an easy answer, but here’s an easy first step…
If a person who is different to us, tells us that being different sometimes makes their life difficult, and that they would like to maybe have a place where they could go and be more comfortable so they can enjoy their hobby in peace, let’s all agree to not tell them they are wrong for wanting what we take for granted.
Alright. Glad we got that sorted, now I’m gonna go donate some money to GaymerCon.
I don’t live in the states, I’m not going to get to attend, but it might just go a little way to making a hobby I’m passionate about, a little more fun and accessible for someone other than me.
That can’t be a bad thing.
GaymerCon: Everybody Games