A couple of weeks ago, I ended an article about the gender disparity in gaming by citing a study that claims women now make up the biggest demographic of gamers in the world.
I hereby retract that claim.
In reality, the study was essentially running through the street and grabbing any woman with an iPhone in her hand, or who was leaning next to a Gamestop, and throwing them into the stats calling them gamers.
In the least elitist way possible, just playing a round of Angry Birds while you wait for the bus does not make you a gamer; no more than picking up a guitar and strumming out a single chord makes you a guitarist.
That isn’t to denigrate games like Angry Birds or Bejeweled or Farmville: Truth be told I’ve played all of them, obsessively, in the past. In fact, during my edgy fuck-the-world phase, I dedicated two months of my life to turning my Farmville farm into a giant Nazi flag, complete with isometric eagle pattern. I can’t begin to describe to you the amount of planning, preparation and scheduling that went into doing something this god damn stupid.
The point is, the study’s findings were not an accurate representation of the demographics which comprise core gamers; that is, people for whom gaming is more than just a way to kill five minutes, and is in fact a big part of their identity, something they engage in on a near-daily basis and frequently discuss with others, online and in real life, often leading to heated debates on hot-button issues.
And that group? Well, I admittedly don’t have any stats to back this up, but from anecdotal evidence I’ve gathered, that group is mostly made up of young to middle-aged males.
So what does this mean? That there are no girls? Nope, there are of course still girls who play the same games as the core demographic, and there are hardcore gamers who are female, it’s just that they happen to comprise a much smaller percentage of the gaming community than that study claims they do.
Why is that? Honestly, I don’t know, I can’t speak for all women anymore than I can speak for all men, but if I had to hazard a guess it would be because traditionally, gaming was a geeky hobby, and society perceives anything geeky to be the realm of boys.
That isn’t to say this is right, it absolutely is not, and it isn’t to say that there are no geeky girls or girls who would have an interest in tech and gaming, if society would allow them that luxury.
Notice I’m saying society, by the way, not the gaming community.
Here’s a fun anecdote for you: I actually have a keen interest in hairdressing, I think the work some stylists do is absolutely incredible, and at one point I briefly considered going to study hairdressing at college.
My friends responded to this by saying they wouldn’t speak to me anymore. Why? Because I was a straight guy who wanted to do a girly activity.
My friends were obviously just taking the piss, in truth I don’t think they’d give a shit what I was doing so long as I didn’t moan about it all the time, but their response is society’s general attitude to a male pursuing a career in a female-driven industry just like it is when a female does the same in a male-driven industry, which gaming and tech undeniably is.
Again, I said society, because I’m sure Nicky Clarke didn’t get his dick grabbed constantly when he was learning hairdressing just like most women who are actually in tech and gaming, and not just studying it from the sidelines and losing their shit at every perceived slight on womynkind, will tell you that they never had problems being a woman in that industry…until these hipster academics and moral crusaders came along and made it a problem.
I’d like to quote from that article I just linked, because it’s a fantastic read and really opened my eyes up to a lot of the damage these people are causing with their never-ending march towards ‘gender equality’:
“I came to the Open Source world because I liked being part of a community where my ideas, my skills and my experience mattered, not my boobs. That’s changed, and it’s changed at the hands of the people who say they want a community where ideas, skills and experience matter more than boobs.”
If you read the whole article, it’s astounding to read how this woman was never treated differently by her peers or seen as anything other than an equal, until these people entered the industry and started lecturing her about not being a proper woman and not emphasising her femininity.
These are the people we are now seeing trying to tear games apart. They are a fucking cancer that has infiltrated any other number of other social groups (look up Atheism+ and how well that went,) and always, always end up harming the overall industry or movement, far more than they ever manage to help it.
And why is this? Because they are more interested in what makes us different than what binds us together. Instead of all coming together as gamers, they want to see us segregated into camps: White Male Gamers, Female Gamer, Black Gamer, LGBT Gamer. They don’t want any crossover and, moreover, I have my suspicions that they’d ideally like to push that first group out altogether.
Why? Well, someone much smarter than me could probably give you an erudite and well-researched answer, but I personally suspect they just have too much fucking time on their hands and no real wars left to fight.
This isn’t new, by the way, these fuckers have tried shit like this before:
That’s late music legend and just all-round awesome guy, Frank Zappa, testifying before congress, against the Parents Music Resource Center, whom you may know better today as the people responsible for this:
Yep, that was their handy work, and you may remember it making precisely fuck all difference to music and who bought it, it just made the creative process more difficult, as artists were constantly chastised for their lyrical output and constantly had barriers thrown up between them and their audience which, while easy enough to overcome, still created a completely unnecessary nuisance.
Another point Zappa very eloquently highlights in the video is that so much of what they are rallying against is completely open to interpretation: it’s not his fault if Tipper Gore listens to a song and thinks about S&M; that’s on her.
This is similar to what I talked about in my previous article, but it’s also related to the point I swear we’re getting towards with this article: The Gaming Boys Club.
In a Telegraph article written by an infuriatingly thick-skulled woman called Helen Lewis, (sorry Helen, you were cool when we talked on Twitter, but some of your antics since have coloured my views on you, significantly,) there’s constantly mention of girls coming to take away boys games. Over and over, this article beats you over the head with this concept.
Here’s why it’s bullshit.
Do you know how many football games exist in the world? Fucking hundreds; maybe even thousands. Why do I bring this up? Well, because I hate football, and I have absolutely zero interest in football games (with the exception of World Cup Italia 90 and Fifa 98, because both were ridiculously easy to win.) I also have absolutely zero interest in racing games, beat ’em ups, strategy games, simulation games…y’know, thinking about it, there are probably more genres that I don’t like than I do.
How many games do I own? Real games, not iPhone stuff?
Well over 400.
Despite having little to no interest in most of the genres I listed above, throughout my twenty-plus years of gaming, through the Mega Drive, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, PS3 and now WiiU and Steam, amongst many handhelds and others, I have amassed a frankly shameful library of video games.
If I can manage to build a collection this big, with all of the genre prejudices I have, then why are these people, allegedly, coming to take them away?
Why can’t we all get along? [Spoiler: It’s not because of gamers.]
I touched on this point in my last article, but it’s really the crux of how fucking dumb this Boys Club shit is: There is enough room in video games for there to be games about absolutely anything you want without you having to detract from what already exists.
You don’t have to tear down the establishment and start saying games can’t do this, that or the next thing anymore, especially when the entire industry was built on those tropes and principles; it just doesn’t work that way. What you can do is make the games you want to see, and seem to think there’s such a huge market for, and if they sell well then congratulations: you are now a part of the game industry, we welcome you with open arms!
As I pointed out previously, this is the exact opposite of what these people want.
This is why I made the example about football games, before. At no point in my life have I ever said, ‘they need to stop making football games and start making more visual novel games, because that’s what I like.’ Never said that, even though in an ideal world I would love it if there were more visual novel games getting made, or if at the very least I could get the final game in the Nonary trilogy, but I recognise that there simply isn’t a big enough market, in the west at least, to warrant this.
There is a huge market for football games, as evidenced by the fact that EA have gotten away with releasing almost the exact same version of FIFA for the past decade and people still eat that shit up.
I don’t get angry about this, and I don’t post articles online saying how football culture needs to die in our society: it doesn’t interest me, it doesn’t represent me, so I don’t get worked up about it.
I am in the minority, and the market reflects that. It really is that fucking simple.
So why, as I’ve suggested umpteen times, don’t these people who are campaigning for forced diversity –I’m pretty sure they used to have that in South Africa a while ago, incidentally, can’t remember how that turned out though– just make their own games, if they’re so sure it’s what we need? Hell, it only took two guys to make Super Meat Boy and that game sold gangbusters, it’s not like you need to hire a giant team and a million dollar budget to make it in the industry, so why don’t they go for it?
Well, as those videos I linked in the beginning addressed, it’s most likely because they know as well as everyone else that the demographic that these social justice campaigners are pushing for simply doesn’t exist.
While I still stand by my assertion that objectification and sexualisation are relative to the individual, I did also concede that the majority of games, in the AAA industry, anyway, are aimed towards young teen to middle-aged men: because that’s who the market is.
Just like you’re unlikely to get a DDR section in any of the FIFA games, or an FPS section in Guitar Hero, these games are being made this way because that’s how the market is, or is perceived to be. You don’t make games for an audience that doesn’t exist, unless you want to end up fucking broke and living on a street corner.
Now, as I have repeatedly stated, I would love to see the market shift towards more diversity in games, because I’m honestly tired of all the shooters and Aryan champions that adorn the covers of most video games, and I’m sick of great writing like Portal being the exception rather than the rule, but that is a change that has to come naturally; you can’t force it, you just fucking can’t.
If you start forcing women into gaming, just to make up quotas, women who don’t necessarily want to be there, or who are only there because they’ve been told by some higher authority that they need to challenge the patriarchy, then all you’re going to succeed in doing is pissing off A) The women who are already working in the industry and who care more about their work than their genitalia, B) The male devs who now need to worry about getting fired for saying something completely innocuous that upsets a woman more interested in her personal agenda than her job and C) The existing community who is suddenly being told they are rotten scum for buying and enjoying the games they’ve always bought and enjoyed because those were the games that were getting made.
In other words, you are going to piss off every single existing person in the market, and you are going to fucking kill it.
As I said at the beginning, and have re-stated throughout, there are women in gaming, both players and creators, and we treat them absolutely no differently from anyone else, because, at the end of the day, we just want to play fucking games.
For these people, these SJW’s (dammit, nearly went the whole article without using it,) this isn’t enough. They need to constantly make a song and dance of the fact that they are women, or in other ways an under-represented minority –although as #NotYourShield demonstrated with hilarious results, the people speaking on behalf of these minorities often don’t represent their interests, in the slightest– and they want to constantly shift the focus from what they can do, to simply what they biologically are.
No: Shut the fuck up.
You wanna game, then pick up the controller and play. You wanna create, sit down at the computer and start coding; pick up a pencil and start sketching out concept art. You know, do the things that the women currently in the industry did to get there, instead of constantly whining about how oppressed they are.
That’s how you get more women into the world of gaming, by destroying society’s misconceptions of the type of people who comprise the tech industry or have an interest in it, not fucking re-enforcing them. How you really don’t do it is by constantly painting the industry in question as a ‘cathedral of misogyny’ and making any women just entering the arena constantly fear for their safety and making them believe that their ideas, somehow, won’t be valued as much as a male opinion when it simply isn’t true.
If you treat gamers with respect, they will return the favour; if you call us ‘misogynerds’ or ‘worse than ISIS’ then, surprise surprise, we’ll get pissed and call you a dick.
All that ‘us vs them’ attitude serves to do is make anyone who was interested in joining the community less likely to do so, and it pisses off the existing community because you are painting them with stereotypes that, while perhaps representative of a small minority of assholes –the same asshole quota that exists in every single subset of humanity on the planet– are absolutely not exemplary of the overall community.
I guarantee you, if you come in with no preconceptions and just wanna game, you will never feel more welcome than you do in our community, fuck what those fearmongers say, and the simple reason for that is the majority of gamers, the real ones, have spent their entire lives dealing with alienation and being painted as the outcasts; for many of us, it’s the main reason we turned to gaming in the first place, so we don’t make a habit of snapping at strangers, except when they turn around and start writing bullshit articles that try to paint us as the exclusionary ones.
This is one of the main aspects that that fucking Telegraph article completely misrepresents: it tries to suggest that we’re somehow proud of our outcast status. Yeah, absolutely, I fucking loved being spat on on my way home from school, or slapped on the back of the head outside class just because I was wearing a Slipknot hoody. Being an outcast is a fucking brilliant laugh, you should all give it a try, sometime.
Nah, sorry, fuck that, it’s all bullshit, as is the idea we’re hostile to outside influences who express an interest in our hobby. If you look at the Christina Hoff Sommers video I linked above, you will notice that the comments section is filled with an outpouring of adoration and plaudits, my own included, from people who are genuinely grateful just to be talked to as equals, for a change.
When Milo Yiannopoulos first took an interest in GamerGate and decided to stream his first ever video game experience, the community flocked to his Twitch channel to suggest what games to play and just generally have a good time watching this n00b get his first taste of video games; an experience he clearly enjoyed since he is now taking advice on how to build his own gaming PC rig so he can get into the more hardware-intensive stuff.
Does any of that sound like the ‘toxic community’ completely abrasive towards outsiders, to you?
As I’ve said before, we don’t care who you are: if you’ve got a genuine interest, if you’ve got the skills to pay the bills or even if you’re just looking to learn, come on in, and I’ll thrash you at Gitaroo Man.
Because the games are all that matter. The games are all that have ever mattered.