Today at 1:00 p.m. PST, 5 friends and I had a panel discussion on gendered bullying in gaming. We ended up talking about bullying in general, as well as what to do about it as gamers and as consumers. We had a lot of fun recording this, and I look forward to having a conversation with you guys in the comments.
The first 4 mintues are basically us setting up, the real discussion starts at about 8 minutes in.
So the gaming world is all atwitter about the new, $99 console that’s set to turn the industry on its boring, old ear. Gamers are tired of the same old consoles, they want the excitement of another consumer opportunity. Which is why we were all so excited to jump on the Playstation Move and the XBOX Kinect, right? Oh wait…
I find myself completely baffled by the excitement everybody has for a chance to spend their hard earned money for a thing that basically does the same stuff their current consoles already do. Frequently, the gaming industry confuses me. Nobody’s jumping down my throat to hype me for another microwave, or blender. Even my computer, which is definitely an appliance with a shelf-life, gets to wirrr out the rest of its days on my desk without much threat of being pushed out by The Next Big Thing before it’s short career is at an obvious end. Yet the gaming community seems to be enamored by a past where consoles went in and out of style like polo shirts. In his Engadget editorial, Tim Stevens laments the dullness of the industry, and decrys the domestication of gaming systems. He pines for a time when “videogame consoles were put to pasture just as they hit their stride.” In my opinion, the console industry isn’t getting borring, it’s maturing, and I am glad for it. The level of constant device turn over and product waste of the past is appalling.
Maybe it’s because while Stevens was deep in the heat of the console wars, I wasn’t allowed to play video games, and then family situations changed and we couldn’t even afford living room furniture let alone videogame consoles. After that, I was on my own, and food was my main priority. So the idea of buying a system, waiting until it got awesome, and then throwing it aside for the a newer system is altogether baffling to me. It’s like buying a hamburger, loving it like crazy, but throwing it in the trash half-way through and going back to buy a cheeseburger. Not that you shouldn’t get the cheeseburger after the hamburger is done, and when you’re hungry again, but double fisting burgers is weird and people will stare at you. Especially if you’re fat.
We have what I consider to be a really nice TV. I’d never bought a TV before, but it became a necessity when the TV we inherited from our old roommate grew increasingly impossible to play videogames on. Batman Arkham Asylum was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thought I hated that game when I first played it, but it turned out that I couldn’t see anything because our ancient TV’s resolution was so low, half the graphics were just blurs. I tried to give the TV away, but even our youngest and poorest friends turned their nose up at our old CRT. Eventually, it went to a Goodwill in Hollywood where it was likely turned into an art installation by some uninspired undergrad.
What does our shitty old TV have to do with the OUYA? Frugality. which is why I hate the idea of the OUYA, but it’s also why I like the OUYA itself. Let me explain: I like that I haven’t had to buy a new gaming console in 7 years. I like that the XBOX is our entire entertainment system. Want to watch TV? Turn on the XBOX. Listen to music? XBOX. Movies? XBOX. Gaming, socializing with my friends online or at a party, even exercise: XBOX, XBOX, XBOX. I love that stupid box, and you can pry it from my cold dead hands. I feel, as a frugal gamer, that by some miracle, we’ve managed to convince console developers that we won’t be buying another $500 piece of hardware anytime soon. Veterans of the console wars have grown fat with console satisfaction in this protracted and beneficial peace. Others of us who are new to the scene are spoiled by the lack of turn-over. We are familiar with our one or two consoles and we don’t see the need for anything else. Ever. You should have seen me when we had to switch from original XBOX to the 360. There was much crying and rending of garments. It’s as if my pet had been run over and my boyfriend tried to pretend that this younger, healthier purebred was really my same dog. Fool me once….
I don’t like change. It usually costs me money. And I know, the whole gaming culture is based firmly in consumerism, which makes me very much an odd duck. But since we’ve become more serious about gaming, we’ve actually saved a ton of money. The XBOX360 and the PS3 combined cost about $1000, the Kinect was free because we were beta testers. Our cable bill was about $100 a month when we turned it off after we bought the 360. In just 10 months, both consoles paid for themselves (although I should mention that the PS3 was actually purchased years after the XBOX). A game costs about $60 new, but aside from Bioware titles, I’ve never met a game I couldn’t wait for the price to drop on. So, for $40 at a time, we get literally hundreds of hours of entertainment, when any other non-free activity would cost at least $10 bucks an hour.
Which is where my liking the OUYA comes in. The entire system costs a cool hundred bucks. As cheap as I am, I’ve spent more than that on a romantic steak dinner… twice as much once if memory serves me. The fact that every single title will either have a free demo, be free to play, or have some sort of subscription model really catches my eye as a consumer. Not to mention that the console is extremely developer friendly. It’s no secret that the big three haven’t exactly courted the developer set. They’ve never needed to. Until now, which brings me back to hating the OUYA. If OUYA is anything close to successful, it’s going to jump start the industry, and I’m not interested in seeing what kind of Bing-style crapbox Microsoft rushes through development in order to compete. I’m especially not interested in having to buy that after all my favorite developers start making games for it and abandon my beautiful XBOX.
From where I’m sitting, the OUYA is going to be a great thing for independent developers, casual gamers, and low-income families who can’t afford to invest in expensive consoles or $60 games, and need an alternative source of entertainment to paying ever-increasing cable and satellite bills. We know that because it’s an android system, players will have access to android apps, like netflix and hulu in addition to their games. I’m going to be watching this system, and the big three with interest as it develops further. My hope for the OUYA is that it will find a niche in the aforementioned categories, that the big three will maybe learn a valuable lesson in developer service, and that none of it will cost me a dime.
I know we’ve all been asking ourselves: Why do gamers suck so much? I’m mostly referring to the recent Anita Sarkeesian bastardry, but really I could be talking about how gamers started an attack campaign on BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler for saying that she’s not a fan of combat, and that she doesn’t have time to play (seeing as how she had a baby trying to kick its way out of her abdomen at the time), or the nasty response we had to the original Mass Effect 3 ending (even though that kind of worked out and we got that awesome extended cut DLC that we would never have gotten if it weren’t for the trolls.)
If a comet hit the earth tomorrow and killed us all, the aliens that excavate our data in 100,000
years will write papers on ‘the gamers.’ Rowdy gangs of unattended 15 year old virgin boys, hopped up on testosterone and caffeine, who roamed our information exchange centers menacing every female and every person over the age of 20 that dared to cross their path as they tore down entire companies and ruined lives and families in the wake of their impotent, virginal rage. A generation of progeny so completely coddled, living in a world marketed to, and created just for them, such that any upset in their regular pop cultural feeding time can cause mass hysteria and rioting. Hell, if you’re following the news about gaming lately this is already what gamers are in our own society. And as much as my Internet search history might tag me as a 15 year old boy, I’m a grown up lady, and I suspect that if you’re reading this, you might be too (non-ladies: this is not an exclusionary tactic, you are welcome to read this article as well.)
Obviously I’m addressing my article to the grown up lady (and non-lady) gamers because when the aliens exhume the server that has all the gearedforgamers.com articles on it, I want them to know that we existed. If 99% of the writing about games on the internet is produced by entitled little brats screaming for products and services to appease them and only them, I want this small artifact to say: Hey aliens, we’re not all unwet adolescent jerk offs, some of us are grown up ladies and non-ladies and we’re just too busy with grown-up stuff (if you know what I mean) to make a stink about shit on the Internet right now.
In other words: GET OFF MY LAWN.
Aliens won’t get that joke, but rest assure it is hilarious and culturally relevant.
At this point, you may be asking yourself ‘is Marina OK, most of her articles aren’t this… weird/disjointed/terrible. Should I call someone?’ No, do not call anyone, unless it’s to tell them to read this amazing treatise on gaming while grown-up, as it is a miracle of modern gaming journalism/bloggerism. I am fine, although I have been reading a lot of Hunter S. Thompson and I think I have a second-hand literary induced psychosis because of it. Also, I’m sick of writing and reading and hearing about what shits the gaming community is made of. So I’m sitting here at my desk shouting expletives at the Internet in an effort to effect social change.
How am I doing? You gamers feeling less tolerant of being represented by tiny assholes whose parents always gave them exactly what they wanted, but never what they needed, and now they’re making games about punching Anita Sarkeesian in the face, and threatening to rape her (as if you would know where to put it, Jr. Nightstalker) because she has something to say about a medium they falsely believe is theirs and no one elses?
To be fair, while I completely respect Sarkeesian’s work on identifying and thinking about the way women are portrayed by pop culture, she is an instigator. No one deserves rape threats, least of all for trying to make the world a more informed place, even if you’re kind of condescending. I personally disagree with her feminist theory, which seems to be that women are fundamentally different (better?) than men, and that women like me who enjoy gratuitous sex and violence don’t exist. She doesn’t ever seem to address what women like me are doing instead of loving the sex and violence that we love. Maybe I’m just pretending to like all the shit I like so that I can reap the benefits of the patriarchy for myself. Yeah, that’s going real well so far (not.)
As for the ‘punch Antia in the face’ game, I’m actually kind of enamored with how completely ridiculous it is. In the game description the creator states that Sarkeesian “claims to want gender equality in video games, but in reality, she just wants to use the fact that she was born with a vagina to get free money and sympathy from everyone who crosses her path.” So, in order to deal with their feelings that Sarkeesian is a fraud they decided to make a flash game where you can completely wreck her pretty face with a barrage of ‘gender equality’ style right hooks. I tried to play the game in order to corroborate this claim, but it’s no longer available. I can only assume that there were multiple levels, with each one adding creative weaponry and in the boss battle you had to carve her up with a razor as punishment for being so entitled to her own equality. Because what do we do to people we believe are fraudulent? Threaten to rape them. And if that doesn’t work: the sky’s the limit. After all, this is the Internet.
On the more rational side, Redditor pikatu put it succunctly when they said “to be honest, Anita Sarkeesian comes across as a douche. However, that’s not something that she deserves abuse over. Even with everything, i’m sure she’s laughing all the way to the bank with her funding.” I think most gamers feel this way, I know I do. She’s kind of a troll (although I really do believe that her trolling is at least constructive), so when there’s a troll to troll flame war going on, my goal is just to stay out of the way. I can see this Sarkeesian thing being something I really super cared about in college. But right now, I have dishes to do. If I didn’t have a weekly obligation to Geared for Gamers, you probably wouldn’t be hearing about this from me. Even though I blog every weekday on my own site, I avoided this issue because I thought ‘trolls will be trolls’ and I wrote about the random celebrities I’ve seen living in Los Angeles instead of a myriad of other socially relevent things a person could blog about. Because I’m frivolous.
But as long as we’re here, is there a story, other than another set of gamers acting like jerks and another set of journalists and bloggers trying to get high minded about it? I know I’ve set up a dichotomy of young and entitled verses old and apathetic, but I think that gamers of all ages can be entitled, or apathetic, or both. People don’t usually get smarter as they get older. Sometimes they get better at hiding their stupidity, but usually that doesn’t even happen. We just mock them less for it since they’re grown-ups now and there’s some unspoken grown-up rule that we all pretend we know what we’re doing, even when we obviously do not.
I know this article has sort of been a collection of devilishly well constructed sentences on top of an otherwise tenuous thesis, which if you didn’t catch it, is that I’m tired of being afraid to tell my friends at work that I play video games unless they think that I’m incapable of doing my job. The gaming audience is getting more sophisticated all the time, but when is that going to show up in the ways we’re represented? Do we, as sensible gamers have a responsibility to ourselves and our community to change that public perception for the better, or are we just the victims of bad apple-ism? Furthermore, if we do have this obligation, how to we meet it? I’d love to see some answers in the comments, what do you think? I want to have a discussion about this.
If you find yourself wondering where I’ve been lately, maybe you should be asking who I’ve been lately.
Mass Effect three is as amazing as I thought it would be. It’s a struggle to not call off everything in my life so I can stay home and play. I’ve never been the type of person who thinks that there is one book everyone should read, or one movie everyone should see, but Mass Effect is the one videogame trilogy that everyone should play.
I will forever hold all other games to its standard. It can do no wrong in my eyes.