Continuing my mission to prove that not all gamers are geeks, and not all geeks are gamers (hooray for that introductory course in logic at university), I have decided to analyse — and shatter a few –  preconceptions about gamers. This won’t be the usual ‘male gamers do actually shower’ kind of list! I’ll include some girl gamer (grrrl!!) myths too!

Being both a long-term hardcore gamer and someone who has been ‘socially successful’ (OK, obviously that’s subjective, but I mean I can get along with other people… hold down a job… and a girlfriend!), I feel like I am in the prime position to analyse and debunk a few gamer myths. Hopefully by the end of the list you will feel a lot more educated on the topic of gamers… and appreciate that we are in fact human too. Here goes:

Female gamers… get around a bit

I thought I’d start with a contentious one to warm up with. Do female gamers actually go out of their way to date or sleep with every boy in a particular group of gamers? Do they keep a list and cross them off? If you’re one of those lucky male gamers that actually has a female in their group, you’ll probably know the answer to this one.

I’m afraid the answer is definitely ‘yes, they are hussies‘. Obviously, not every girl gamer is the village bicycle, but the vast majority do seem to ‘sample the goods’. I’ve belonged to 2 ‘LAN party‘ groups and in both I experienced a certain ‘looseness’ about the girls. At university, I think of about 50 guy gamers, we had all dated the 3 or 4 girl gamers. Do the maths. But hey, us geek guys need to get our loving from somewhere… and we have a lot of love to give! We save it up over a number of years and let it all out in a… torrent… of love!

Gamers hate physical activity

Another popular notion is that gamers really hate to do things. The huge, spotty, chair-overhanging dorks obviously don’t do a lot for our cause, it’s true. But that doesn’t mean that we all hate sports, or other physical activities! It just means that we like to do… geeky activities! Like paintball, or airsoft. Or Live Action Role Play (click at your own risk). Obviously sloth-like people are attracted to gaming because it is a sedate, immobile pastime — but that doesn’t mean that gaming makes people hate physical exertion. This myth is simply not true, it’s just a stereotype that we have to shake off, thanks to our fat, spotty brethren!

Gamers are ugly

This one is fairly tied into the previous myth; we don’t exercise, thus we don’t look after our bodies. Sitting in a chair, surrounded by other sweaty guys doesn’t really inspire one to shower and tend to one’s appearance, correct?

Partially true. Much like lazy people are attracted to sit in front of a computer, those that care little about other people, and social interactions are likely to be drawn to gaming. This doesn’t mean that all geeks are ugly! There are plenty of attractive geeks out there that manage to mix up gaming and social interaction (that’s actually why LAN parties are so popular — you get to mix with people, rather than sit in your bedroom/basement all day). When we set up a gallery for my World of Warcraft guild I was quite amazed at how good looking we were! (If you want to see, I’ll be happy to provide some examples.) There definitely seems to be a correlation between social skills, and the quality of your appearance.

The related myth ‘all gamers eat vast amounts of pizza and crappy food‘ is only partially true. Pizza and convenience food just happens to be very, er, convenient — you can still use your mouse or keyboard with a slice of pizza in your other grubby paw.

Girl gamers are just following their boyfriend around

Ah, the tag-along girl gamer. Most of you guy gamers reading this will know what I mean by ‘that cute little girl at the LAN party that looks far too cute to actually be a gamer’. You know, she has braids in her hair. And she’s chatting to a friend on MSN Messenger, rather than actually gaming. Maybe she’s watching some anime. You blink, thinking this amazing vision will disappear… but she’s still there when you open your eyes. You think you’ve suddenly hit the mother lode! AND THEN… her boyfriend re-appears. Cue way too much affection and touching by the boyfriend just to make sure you really know they are going out. This guy is proud of his catch, and he wants you to be jealous. And inevitably… you are. Because he’s getting some, and you’re not.

Again, this myth is partially true. The number of girl gamers that actually attend LAN parties, or play any game other than Sims or Habbo Hotel, is still very, very small. The vast majority of girl gamers that you see in public will likely be the girlfriends of gamer guys. That doesn’t mean that the girl doesn’t enjoy games though! I know many girls that have become gamers after dating a hardcore gamer. Maybe that cute blonde will be attending on her own at the next LAN party?

Gaming is a valid career choice

Ah, the classic line that all kids tell their parents. Even I’ve used this one a few times. ‘Playing games won’t get you a job, son!’ Well, that’s not entirely true, dad. Whether as a games tester, designer or even as a pro gamer, there are possibilities to make a career out of hardcore gaming. Unfortunately, testing games for a job isn’t as fun as it sounds (it gets very old after a month or two) and it doesn’t pay well. Then of course everyone wants to design video games, but as there’s only 2 or 3 designers per 100 programmers, that’s a goal many will find unobtainable.

That leaves pro-gaming, which is certainly a possibility in today’s climate, but again only available to the very best gamers.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t try (winning £10,000 for a few hours’ work in a tournament has to be pretty good!), but you probably shouldn’t drop out of school or stay up all night playing games (until you get to university, then it’s OK!). Give it a few more years though and gaming will certainly be a career choice.

Gamers are violent

Ah, the favourite of our friends the media — we play violent video games, so we must all be closet serial killers just waiting to murder a prostitute and go on a killing spree at our local college. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Of course there are a few psychopaths that also played video games, but to surmise that ‘all video gamers are violent’ is false. Most gamers are actually very relaxed. We can obviously be competitive (there has to be a winner!), but not to the level that we’re threatening each other’s families. The exception here is that hardcore gaming can stifle the development of social skills; you all know about the geek that encroaches on your personal space — it’s that kind of oblivious nature that could cause a violent issue to arise.

If anything, gamers tend to be peace-loving types. God knows we don’t often have the physical make-up to be physically violent; our aggression tends to be the passive-aggressive type, often with snide words or social manipulation. ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ — replace ‘pen’ with ‘keyboard’ and you will begin to understand a geek’s method of venting pent-up aggression! The associated myth ‘gamers play games as they enjoy killing‘ is also incorrect, it’s just ‘the modernisation’ of the gaming industry — just like modern TV focusing on lawyers or police. There are plenty of incredibly successful games that have very little violence at all — the Zelda and Mario franchises, the most popular franchises of all time, have absolutely zero focus on death and violence (other than to add significance to the plot, anyway!)

It just so happens that, like with most things in this world, games tend to mirror real life. Games are about escapism, or making fun of a popular topic — you can become Rambo, or a member of a Counter Terrorist squad — the measure of your success, then, is how many enemy soldiers you can kill, or how many bombs you can neutralise.

Conclusion

Like most myths there is often a grain of truth in everything you’ve read here. For every humble, peaceful geek there’s going to be one gun-toting maniac that spoils it for the rest of us. Just remember that as gaming becomes more and more popular (and it’s fast overtaking every other entertainment and pleasure pastime in the world today), almost anyone you meet could turn out to be a gamer. It’s only logical that hardcore gaming, and making a career out of gaming will become more popular, and even acceptable!

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Sebastian

I am a tall, hairy, British writer who blogs about technology, photography, travel, and whatever else catches my eye.

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