Exclusionary Geek Culture Misunderstands Diversity on a Fundamental Level

Dragon Age Inquisition

[PART 1] [PART 2]

About two weeks ago, I wrote an article titled “Fight Club: How Masculine Fragility is Limiting Innovation in Video Games.” It was a very serious article written in very serious, academic language, and it’s been circulating in some very serious, highbrow sort of ways. I, myself, however, am not a very serious person. I can only maintain the illusion of being academic and adult-like for so long before I turn into a pumpkin. But, pending my inevitable assimilation into the ranks of gourd-kind, I felt I needed to address something that came up in the comment thread of that article.

It’s not uncommon in conversations about diversifying video games to find people who just … don’t want to. They’re probably the same kind of boring, backwards nincompoops who get mad about people liking themselves and people who use “Googled” as a verb. Y’know, staunch enemies of progress. Every cultural group has its fair share, and the gaming community is no exception. Now, I could easily write about the topic of just how abundant these weaslefarts are in gamer culture, and specifically about how they dominate most intellectual discourse in gaming. Don’t get me wrong: that is a problem. But that’s not why I’ve gathered you all here today.

Enemies of progress (EOPs, if you will) are generally natural manifestations of historical institutions of oppression and bigotry. As a result, I’m never all that surprised to find them among gamers. Gaming is in the midst of a very big and frequently painful transition from an almost-exclusively white hetero cis male space into something that caters a little more to—well, everyone else. It’s gotten to the point where I expect to see a few EOPs in the comment thread of anything that mentions this transition, decrying it as uncomfortable and awful and oppressive to them specifically, as gamers. (That is to say: white hetero cismale gamers, to whom the industry has always shamelessly pandered.) These kinds of comments are rooted in institutional oppression—sexism, racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, etc.—and not any kind of valid logic worth my consideration. I expect them, and when I see them, I ignore them.


But, in response to “Fight Club,” I saw a few EOPs responding in a way that kind of blew my mind. “I actually prefer violent video games,” wrote one. “It’s a great way to blow off steam after a stressful day at work. Completely doing away with violence in video games would make them really boring.”

That’s all well and good, I think … except that I never suggested completely doing away with violence in video games. In fact, I didn’t really decry violence in video games at all, except to mention that there’s a lot of it, and it isn’t the most efficient vehicle for storytelling, and that maybe we should think about making new games with new mechanics that aren’t violence. So where were these EOPs getting this ridiculous interpretation from?

Dragon Age Inquisition

How Gamers Miss the Point

You see this kind of thing a lot with discussions of diversity in gaming. You’ll be talking about something like, say, the utter dearth of main characters of color in video games, and somebody will inevitably come in and accuse you of stealing their favorite toy. “This thing is mine,” they’ll say. “Stop ruining this thing I own! Go get your own thing to ruin with your social justice hooplah.”

I’ve always had a problem with this for a myriad of reasons. For one thing, it makes me question the aptitude of their kindergarten teachers who clearly were never able to help them fully grasp the concept of sharing. For another thing, it makes it seem as though women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people are interlopers in the gaming community, invading it with the clear and present objective of making cis hetero white manchildren cry bourbon tears into their bacon-scented beards. It assumes that we haven’t been here all along, which is as naïve as it is insulting.

But there’s another, more insidious problem with the idea that video games belong to only one group of people: it’s the idea that diversifying video games would make them cease to belong to this group. It’s the idea that diversity is all-or-nothing—that diversifying video games would mean eradicating the games and gaming culture that currently exists.

I see people (mostly these aforementioned EOPs) talking about diversity as if it’s reductive. And that’s … literally the opposite of what diversity is. Diversifying games doesn’t involve taking away from game content; it involves adding to it, creating new characters and new storylines and new franchises that better represent the diversity of the audience, and of the world we live in.

To address the original article, creating and/or celebrating games that do away with violence as a core mechanic is in no way similar to making violence-heavy video games the fuel for my bi-monthly feminist killjoy bonfire. And I found it weird that a grown adult could conflate the two. That is, until I thought about it.

Dragon Age Inquisition

Whose Gate Is This?

See, there’s this weird thing about the gaming community that’s a part of most permutations of geek culture: it’s incredibly exclusionary. There’s a lot of weird gatekeeping and geek policing that goes on; there’s a ton of unspoken expectations and rules for this behavior about who can be a part of the community and who can’t.

If you’re a woman—and especially if you’re a queer woman, a woman of color, or both—you probably experience a lot of this firsthand. It’s part of the reason FemHype exists. Women have, historically, not been allowed a seat at the table, and now that we’ve built our own table and chairs, we’re still constantly under siege. As a gamer and a woman, people line up around the block to credential you. Women who are let’s players, pro-gamers, game developers, and games journalists are subjected to a ridiculous level of scrutiny. We’re expected to have an encyclopedic knowledge of any game we purport to like; we’re expected to act like we don’t notice misogyny or sexism in games or in the community; we’re expected to handle constant harassment with grace and poise; and we’re expected to pander to any and all cis hetero male viewership. Any woman who fails to fulfill these expectations is “outed” and paraded around as a fake.

This gatekeeping behavior is rooted in the idea of women as interlopers and invaders. People love to act as if gaming was a boys-only treehouse by design, and women have just recently infiltrated it using only Adam’s rib and their Feminine Wiles™. And when we start talking about opening the gate—expanding the criteria by which we classify “gamers” to include everyone in the community the gate never opened wide enough to accommodate—people get uncomfortable.

There seems to be this mentality that if the gaming community changes (that is, if it changes to acknowledge how diverse it’s actually always been) it will cease to be a space of belonging for those who have always belonged in it. To people who made it through the gate—to people who fashioned the gate in the first place—gatekeeping is vital to the maintenance of their identity and their specialness. The gaming community has always been a safe haven to these people, specifically because it excluded legions of others. Allowing diversity in the community, the industry, or within video games as a medium is something these people (EOPs, all) think they have ultimate control over. They think they have the final say as to whether or not women are allowed into communal gaming spaces.

I’ll pause a second for laughter.

Dragon Age Inquisition

My point is, when you take the gate away, the people behind it feel threatened. They feel like you’re taking away from their community or from the media they love. When you suggest something like diversifying game content or mechanics, it feels, to them, like you’re building a new gate. Gates are all they know. Exclusion is the only language they speak. Inclusion of new entities, new ideas, new types of people is so foreign that it sounds to them like you’re commandeering their space and turning it into one where they’re no longer welcome. You know, like how you’ve always been unwelcome in their space.

Oh, the irony.

And so I’m writing this article—not just because I need to state for the record that I am not, nor have I ever been anti-violence in video games, but because this is something we ought to address as a community. People calling for diversity in games and in gaming spaces aren’t trying to steal your toys. We aren’t trying to invade your home or set your treehouse on fire. We’re trying to share those toys—which, by the way, are also our toys, and always have been. We’re trying to show you new toys, better toys, and share those with you, too.

It’s time to stop pretending that video games are a gated community where only a chosen few are welcome. Video games have been and always will be a neighborhood full of color and noise, where the only barriers to happiness and success are superficial ones put in place and enforced by lovers of the status quo. The ’80s are over; enemies of progress are no longer in vogue.

So, weaselfarts: open the gate, come out into the light, and join the rest of us in the 21st century. The graphics are way better out here.


31 thoughts on “Exclusionary Geek Culture Misunderstands Diversity on a Fundamental Level

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  1. I’m not a gamer, but I like this post. It addresses the many, many reasons we see such backlash against change of any sort. The argument that diversity is some sort of limitation or restriction for the old guard is bizarre. For all the ideas, creativity and invention lost to the -isms, nostalgic intransigence and desperate retention of power, it seems that we should be excited for all the possibilities to come.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Here here! As a cis gendered white male I agree with you and your article, I find it nuanced and agreeable in a obvious sort of way that makes it so sad that obvious things obviously aren’t obvious to oblivious people. 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It is disheartening to see just how exclusionary the gaming, or more broadly, the geek space can be. There are people who see the need to divide others along certain lines. It makes for a hostile environment at times.
    It’s upsetting whenever an article or video or whatever tries to discuss the idea of games having a lack of diversity or portraying female characters poorly and there’s just a huge, angry backlash. It reinforces stereotypes of gamers and games in general, preventing games from being as normalized as movies, books, and TV.


  4. In these discussions one question always seems to go unasked: where did these attitudes come from? I think it’s important to understand the root causes of an issue to make better progress towards fixing it. In this case, geeks did not create “exclusionary geek culture”, they didn’t erect the walls or put up the gates, ‘normal’ people did. Geeks and nerds have always been subjected to ridicule, and female geeks and nerds have always been seen as a separate issue, shuffled into their own space (as such I don’t have much insight into what that experience is like). Male geeks were shoved into their own box, and even as the pressure holding the lid shut is eased and geeks begin to emerge, the assault continues.

    While computers are ubiquitous now, knowing too much about them is still frequently seen as weird or abnormal, and is still often looked down on. Despite the fact that video games are more popular than ever, people have constantly tried to regulate them and still try to blame them for violence; this in addition to the stigma that ‘games are for children’ (hence the efforts to ‘protect’ them with regulation). Furthermore, these things becoming mainstream has often times led to geeks being marginalized within spaces that were previously their refuge, as ‘normal’ people edge in and often times abuse those ‘traditional’ geeks. For every traditionally ‘geeky’ pursuit, if you spend too much time with these things you’re still seen as lesser in some way.

    Now, people finally seem ready to open this box of nerdom, but instead of letting the geeks out, checking if they’re okay, and ‘normalizing’ their interests, it’s people trying to get in the box with them. When you’re acclimatized to people trying to hurt you in one way or another, this becomes the expected interaction. It’s why when you talk about alternatives to violence in video games, some people respond by saying “completely doing away with violence in video games would make them really boring” — it’s the hidden subtext that they expect. It’s part of why the recent surge in criticism and attention to video games has generated such a violent and visceral reaction. When you’re in the box, you learn to react to the outside world with suspicion and fear, you learn to expect the worst, and we need to acknowledge that and address it. But I haven’t seen that. I’ve seen all sorts of criticism (which can feel like yet another attack), I’ve seen people explain that they just want to join in the fun (which can feel like appropriation), I’ve seen people referred to as ‘EOP’s (which can feel othering and accusatory), but I haven’t seen anyone do anything more positive than overlook the people who have been stuck in this box for countless years. I think that acknowledging what geeks and nerds have been through would do a lot to change the frame of this discussion, leading it away from an ‘us vs them’ sentiment, real or imagined.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This box you say we’re in, and all your alagory that goes with it, they’re in here with us in that very same box. We’re just shoving them into the corner. Which is not okay.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I follow your reasoning here, but I think the gate being talked about isn’t necessarily the gate between geeks/nerds and “normal” people, but the gate between male (usually white, usually straight) video game geeks, and all the non white, non male, non straight geeks? It’s true that geeks and nerds where shoved into a box by normal people – and those geeks and nerds were male and female, black and white, straight and not, etc. Once in the box, white male nerds started shoving girl (and non white, non straight etc.) nerds into that seperate box you were talking about. So for us, it’s a double prong isolation – we were locked into a box by the normal community, and then shoved into an even smaller corner of the box or forced out of the box altogether by the white male nerd community. So when female gamers talk about diversity in video games, it’s not about taking toys or attacking the gate it’s about saying “hey, you put this gate up, inside the geek box, and we’d like you to open it up so we can continue to be a part of this community we’ve always been a part of?” It’s not an attack, though as you said it can feel like one, it’s members of the same community that were marginalized by that community asking to be let back in, or in some cases, demanding to be let back in.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Except you have missed a big point. Women, poc, lgbt+ are NOT new to geek culture or media. These groups have always been here. But not only have they been ostracized by mainstream culture for their interests, just like your ‘stereotypical’ geek, they have also been excluded by said group who share said interests. Why? Because the people in said group are not beyond mainstream culture. Mysoginistic, racist, and lgbt+phobic ideas, even if “just subtle” ones such as exclusion and objectification still abound. Cis white males don’t get the same intensive scrutiny even if they are new comers. Not even if they look like stereotypical jocks or have interets that are seen to conflict with geeky persuits. It’s not that there are new people in town, it’s just that these people are no longer putting up with this shit.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. The thing is, David, female gamers and LGBTQA gamers and POC gamers aren’t coming from outside the geek and nerd box. They’re not even in a separate box. They’ve been in there with you all along. Looked down upon for the interests just like the male geeks. Sometimes even more so because their interests were deemed even more of deviation from the norms expected of them (by male geeks as well as “normal society”.) They just want to make the box roomier and more comfortable for everyone. Perhaps put in some doors and windows so that the “normal people” can see what it’s like in there and the geeks and nerds can wander freely out into the “normal” world and then back into the comfortable den of geekery.

      Liked by 2 people

    5. I agree with this to a certain extent, but it’s been quite a few years now that Geeks have been King. Quite a few years. At a certain point, the legacy became self-perpetuating, the policing of the Gates became completely voluntary, and any stigma attached with using computers was worn away with the popularity of smart phones, online social media, and the like. We simply cannot argue that being tech-savvy isn’t a serious advantage socially, these days. The Gatekeeping is all voluntary now and related to maintaining the social capital of being the elite. Yes, there is the fear of having something taken away (not rational, but understandable), and it’s very possible that gaming is the one place where some gamers have this much social capital, but that doesn’t mean other people are shaming us for it any longer.

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    6. The problem with that outlook is it does completely ignore women gamers and leaves the center of the universe around cishetero gamers. I’m sorry, but the problem isn’t always about you nor does the problem have to circumvent your needs before anyone else’s needs can be addressed. It’s this very attitude that people have issue with: In order for any other problems to have any kind of validation they have to pass the gate of male approval. That’s really absurd levels of nonsense thinking.

      In case you’re wondering what happened to women gamers, we were put in a box inside a box. Depending on what level of douchehole we ran into, we’d be the subject of ridicule or harassment. At the very least other male geeks could openly share their hobbies with male geeks and have a type of safe space. Women gamers were never afforded even this much. Similarly, we couldn’t share hobbies with our peers because even if liking geek culture things was weird, for women it was more along the lines of taboo.

      You weren’t merely seen as “weak”, you were seen as something abnormal, something that needed to be fixed. And among geek spaces, you were seen as something that needed to be promptly ejected. Hence the “Guys In Real Life” and how doing something as innocuous as mentioning your name was Sally meant that you signed up to have all kinds of awful shit at you and despite also being a socially awkward nerd were expected to grace the of every single male gamer who decided that you should be into him just because with often an additional clause of: or else.

      So TLDR; Boo fucking hoo. At least you weren’t also excluded by people who shared your hobby due to sexist ideals and didn’t have to be constantly checked for being “real”, or people always suspecting that you feigned interest for a boyfriend or attention.

      Liked by 2 people

    7. You bring up a good point that “geek culture” (which includes “gamers” of all types, not just video) is a social construct. It arose among a marginalized group of individuals who bonded together over common interests combined with social ostracization. Thus, as you mentioned, the “box” was created by majority society rather than the geeks themselves.

      The concept I vary on is that the geeks ~do~ control the gate. As the OP mentioned, certain portions have taken geek culture and made it exclusionary. No longer does the box exist because people are driven there; it exists because its residents continue to reinforce the walls. I theorize the reason for this is psychological, something I’ve written about before in a theory called “Dork Psychology”.

      In essence, I posit a personality archetype that has been drawn to (and molded) “geek culture”. Although the specifics aren’t cemented, these individuals often have low social intelligence, low emotional maturity, and low self-esteem. Please note that these traits are a spectrum, so it’s possible to vary with how “dorky” someone is. Despite this, people often recognize these individuals with slang monikers such as “basement dwellers”, “neckbeards”, etc. I’m not sure what percent of “geek culture” consists of these personality archetypes, but they’re prevalent enough that they’ve become a regular stereotype of gaming tables, conventions, Renaissance Faires, etc.

      Upon arriving in the “box”, these individuals begin to intertwine their self-identity with their pursuits. No longer a hobby, the pursuit becomes a lifestyle and their identity and esteem are externalized into the fantasy. What this means, however, is that any change or criticism of their pursuits is perceived as an attack on ~them~. You’re not just asking the industry to change, you’re forcing ~them~ to change.

      This is on top of the fact that these individuals were driven toward the box as a form of escapism. They couldn’t handle majority society, and now the walls have been torn down and they’re left exposed while others arrive in their “safe place”. It doesn’t matter how pleasant these new arrivals are; these individuals have problems with social interaction and emotional response. So, they react like a toddler that’s been told it has to share it’s favorite toy, and throw tantrums.

      In the end, the OP isn’t ignoring what “geeks” or “gamers” have been through that created the exclusionary culture to begin with. However, the current status quo of entitlement and narcissism is perpetuated by a portion of the population that, quite frankly, has sociopsychological problems. These individuals, even if just a vocal minority, are behind everything from hostile Internet environments to outright physical dangers (including SWATing, death threats, etc.).

      The solution, other than to force every single “dork” to go through counseling, is to change the culture itself. Like trying to drive racism out of majority society, you have to stand strong and advocate how ignorant, uneducated, illogical, and just plain “wrong” this behavior is. You use blogs, panels, books, social campaigns, etc. to shift the perceptions and opinions of the “box” itself, and eventually these vocal minorities become just a minority. Then maybe the culture can progress, as healthy cultures do, toward something bigger and better.

      Liked by 1 person

    8. I think, in part, the regarding of knowledge and enjoyment of games comes in part from ableism; that is to say, the bigotry against people who are disabled, mentally ill, and have similar conditions. Since current tech came about, disabled people use it a ton to live our lives in ways other people think we shouldn’t be able to; better. In addition, it’s considered “wrong” and “weird” to be incredibly knowledgable about computers or games, because that’s what we autistic people do: we focus heavily on one or a few interests, and become heavily invested in it. Those are our special interests. And people who aren’t geeks are like “Well. You don’t want to be like /them/ do you?”

      Though admittedly that’s not wholly it. For many older generations, games started as something only children did, and for them it hasn’t quite dawned that games are a valid medium, just as valid as books and as television shows are coming to be. And they apparently hate change :\

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a woman in my late thirties and started “gaming” with the Atari 2600 and the occasional visit to the arcade, and have owned pretty much ever major console since then. Like you said, we have always been a part of the community, and I certainly wasn’t an anomaly amongst my friends growing up – EVERYONE was playing the Famicon/NES, boy and girl, for example. I don’t recall any discussions with the boys I knew about it not being “for girls”. I wonder if these geek boys that are flailing against women in gaming grew up later, during the explosion of first-person shooters? It would also be interesting to see stats on the number of girls playing video games in the 80’s and 90’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I started playing the 90s. My brother used to insist to me all the time that “games were not for girls”. In fact, to buy my first game I had to watch him throw a fit about how girls weren’t supposed to play games and no one (not the store employees nor my parents) even once objected to this as unusual behavior. For me to play anything from his library, I’d have to wait the entire year until he went to summer camp and blitz through as many of them as I could in the few days he was gone.

      And even if it wasn’t often direct, there was the infamous “Guys In Real Life”. Or how people tended to treat women period the moment it became clear that the person they were speaking to wasn’t a man. Or how male gamers spoke about or treated women, or how many times the people speaking to you would automatically assume your level of knowledge was lower than them. Even now in a modern MMO that I joined, I pretty much quit one day in because I saw a female gamer being harassed in general chat. Or look in the comments section of a female gamer receiving attention for anything, ever.

      It was considered very standard for pretty much everyone I know to never ever mention their gender or intentionally lie and say they were male. IE- You couldn’t engage in discussion about a male character as aesthetically pleasing, and back when homophobia was much more standard, you couldn’t even try to pass off as gay unless you pushed it as “ironic” or “joking”. If you did otherwise, you were an idiot, an “attentionwhore” and deserved whatever foul treatment you automatically deserved. Meanwhile, all male gamers never had any issue ever with that kind of discussion.

      Also the huge amount of push required for games like Pokemon which were largely enjoyed by both boys and girls since Red and Blue to start including a female protagonist as an option. Or how any game with romantic simulation elements had zero options for women players until much later on (including series like Harvest Moon where the first time you could play a female protagonist, the game ended once you got pregnant). Or how men are like 98% of all game protagonists ever.

      Not to mention marketing itself would intentionally skew it to perpetuate the image that games were for men only. For example, the Legend of Zelda commercials that were about “getting the girl”. Or for example, with how ridiculous female characters dressed, there was a huge pushback against a male character who was designed in a similarly sexual outfit that no one would even bat an eye at if it was put on a female model.

      Can you imagine? If women gamers had the same attitude as male gamers, we couldn’t play anything ever. “Woman in scanty bikini armor? I can’t play a game with that. That’s too gay.” “Ugh. This character has a male protagonist that doesn’t look like someone from One Direction. Why are they being so PC?”


  6. I think there’s a pretty big aspect missing here.

    “I see people (mostly these aforementioned EOPs) talking about diversity as if it’s reductive. And that’s … literally the opposite of what diversity is.”

    The thing is… to these people, diversity IS objectively reductive. The reason is that many of these people don’t buy games for their unique atmosphere, or their rich storytelling, or the plot’s clever twists, or the unforgettable characters; they buy them for the power fantasy. The power fantasy of being stronger than everyone else, being uber muscular and handsome and edgy and commanding armies and being the chosen one and having women throwing themselves at you and of all but radiating sexual prowess. They don’t play games to experience something interesting, they play games to experience a world where they’re better than everyone else.

    *Of course* diversity would present a threat to that. You can’t include more and better representation of non-safely-white people without tearing down the white supremacist aspect of their power fantasy; you can’t add more queer people without destroying the sense of smugness they derive from being cis and straight and having that praised in the game as the best thing to be; you can’t include more women and include them respectfully without directly taking away the number of gratuitous boob shots in these games, or the number of female characters throwing themselves at the player character to stroke his ego, among other stuff.

    The more diversity we get in games, the more games treat *all* people like people, instead of always framing the cis straight white dude as the center of the universe, the less games the cis straight white dudes entrenched in their little gated community will get that specifically exist to make *them* special. Oh, they’ll still be made, but it won’t be almost every single AAA game anymore, and of course they don’t want that to happen, they don’t want their buffet reduced from a hundred dishes each year to maybe five or ten.

    We *are* at a conflict of interests, and that’s why I’ve yet to see “but diversity would be GOOD for the quality of the game!!!” succeed as an argument with one of these people. They don’t want a good game, they want a game that bolsters their self-esteem – and there’d be nothing wrong with that if they hadn’t gotten used to their self-esteem boosters coming at the expense of no other group getting any, ever. As it stands, they’ll just have to get a cold splash of reality and get used to being exactly as special as every other group out there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Love this point!

      Always important to remember that power dynamics always form the base of arguments against diversity. For all the hemming and hawing about quality, the goal has been and always will be to keep people beneath the collective boot.


    2. I think you’ve touched on something very important that people on diversity’s side too often miss miss and EOPs are embarrassed to admit and ashamed to talk about (rightfully so!) It’s something that needs to be taken into account at least, but I think addressing it directly would just shut down any potential for conversation.


  7. Just dropping my usual seemingly-endless comment here… =P

    I find “sharing” in this context problematic, but not for what you’d think… None of us can share something that doesn’t belong to us. Video games, much like any other artistic product, belong to the developers and publishers, not to consumers, regardless of how much they enjoy them.

    Skyrim doesn’t belong to me, I don’t have the right to “gatekeep” it and ask modders to stop releasing X-rated mods, only because I don’t find any reason for them to exist at all.
    The GTA franchise doesn’t belong to me either, and I have not right to order developers what to do with it. And none of this means that I can’t elaborate complex critiques based on their work.

    So maybe, instead of sharing things we don’t even own, I personally rather speaking of social responsibilities.
    As a developer and/or publisher, you have the responsibility to analyze how your product will impact on society, and what ideas it reproduces (including those related to perpetuating gender stereotypes). Yes, they have the basic function of entertaining, but what other social legacy does it leave?
    As a journalist (such is my case), you have the social responsibility of analyzing and questioning whatever the developers meant to print in their work. There’s no such thing as “objective reviews”, and that’s what makes a journalists’ work different from any other’s.
    As a consumer, you enjoy it and have fun (or not), but it’s imperative that you don’t just absorb anything the media (in general) throws at you, and that you care about preserving your own criteria over fanatism.

    In the end, it’s not even that some people (usually cishet white men) don’t want to “share” their video games and/or gaming-related spaces. It’s that they fear “inclusion” is a synonym of everyone different (than them) suddenly treating them the exact same way they’ve treated everyone else in “their” spaces all along.

    TLDR: Video games don’t belong to us, they belong to the companies (as much as I like Batman, everything about that belongs to DC Comics). In the same logic, a particular car belongs to you when you pay for it, but cars, in general, don’t belong to you. Speaking of the quality your perceive of the car doesn’t mean you hate cars or that you want to ban/censor them. Same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The problem is that male gamers assumed everyone was just like them. They were wrong. They did not seem to know that they were playing with different ages, races, genders, and people of different sexual orientations all along. IMO they are howling now because they’ve finally found out that those faceless people who gamed with them were not the gender, etc., they thought they were. The pretense has been stripped away.

    Worse, we are not only coming out of the closet, we have opinions about the design and quality of games we want to play. We (gasp) might affect the market because we have money to spend. Ya think?

    I am the rarest of birds, a woman on the shady side of my sixties who games. I’ve been playing for years. You think gamers quit playing when they get older? I can’t wait to see, in the future, articles on how gray creep is threatening the gaming world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually had an awesome experience a while back. I went to the post office to pick up an overseas package (yay electronics parts!) which required a signature, and happened to be wearing my N7 hoodie. And the 60-something woman behind the counter noticed the hoodie, and while someone went into the back to find the package, she gushed at me about the trilogy (and allowed how she was /very/ disappointed in the original ending to Mass Effect 3, but that Citadel had seemed a truly appropriate spiritual send-off to the characters we’d shared so many adventures with)…

      And I was just standing there and thinking to myself, “This is awesome!”


  9. For a lot of gamer guys in this moment of gaming culture there appears to be a paranoid, stupid, and short-sighted mentality behind at least some of this gatekeeping behavior….
    I think a lot of cismen equivocate the slowly creeping progress towards diversity in gaming with games becoming less competitive on average. Competitiveness in games suffices to represent a sort of geeky masculine identity, as gamers who win in competitive games appear to feel like they are similar to actual fighters/strategists in say the military (observation based on how they talk and what they emote and how they rep themselves), even if they would never actually make the comparison.
    This equivalency seems to result in a two-pronged attack on progressive ideas.
    First, anything non-geeky-masculine added to gaming culture is assumed to potentially dilute the pool of competitive games or the supposed importance of them, which may in turn reduce the capability of these guys to prove themselves as “badasses.”
    More perniciously, if anyone non-stereotypically-geeky-masculine plays competitive games it might dispel the illusion that the behavior actually does represent you as a “badass.”
    But it’s all BS. Competitive gaming is only getting more popular over time even as diversity slowly increases and single player phone games dominate new markets. The % of games made to pander to masculinity-thirsty men may be falling but the actual support of competitive gaming has skyrocketed, in both the gaming community and in general society.
    Even if that weren’t true, the more people and types of people who are accepted into gaming culture, the bigger the audience and the more ideas of all kinds flow into competitive games, which in the long run can only spur innovation and awesome gaming.
    To those guys:
    Stop Be Fricking Assholes. This Is Pretty Easy. Be nice to people in general and extra nice to people who share your hobbies. Holy crap. You might like the people who would otherwise be put off by y’alls shitty attitude toward them. No, if they don’t like you because you’re a jerk to them it doesn’t mean they’re weak or wouldn’t love gaming as much as you (without a disincentive to be around someone who acts like you). It sucks if you felt like outcasts before gaming went mainstream but guess what? Now you’re doing the outcasting, and it is making your hobby far worse than it could be. Is that what you wanted?…
    [Apologies if this is off the rails. Pet peeve. Good article.]


  10. I think I’ll title my reply to this “Writer fundamentally misunderstands pushback against politically correct culture”.

    It would be extremely easy to write-off your article as bigoted; putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the evil ciswhitemale (careful, your sexism and racism are showing!). You also have a fundamental misunderstanding of geek culture, as well as using gamer as a pejorative term.

    Diversity solely for diversity comes off as fake, as a token gesture. I’m happy to go through and list many characters that are non-male, non-white (it’ll take a while, there’s a lot of them), or games where it doesn’t apply (like many puzzle games out there). Maybe, just maybe, you’re not the target audience for certain games. You need to realize: that’s okay. It’s okay to not be part of the target audience. Games like Call of Duty do have a target audience. It doesn’t mean that other people can’t enjoy the game, though. I’m not the target audience for romance novels; doesn’t mean that the romance novel industry has to change to cater to me.

    A lot of gamers (of all colors, sexes, genders, nationalities, etc.) enjoy the violent, action game (Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto). The great thing is, there are tons of other genres out there. There are a lot of non-violent games out there (puzzle, walking simulators, rhythm, sim, board/game shows, etc.). Your article does have an odd “I’m not saying I’m against violence, but I kind of am saying I’m against violence” tone to it.

    Who are you to demand that geek culture changes for you? Consider that a lot of people that you lay the blame on have been ostracized. Maybe when they were in school, they weren’t “cool” enough. Trading issues of Nintendo Power or playing Magic: The Gathering in the library was not a fasttrack to being cool for the most part. “Coolness” in games is about how much you enjoy the game, how good you are at it. So they created a culture around games. It was their space.

    Even then, your social justice warrior side has plenty of entrants. Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Anita Sarkeesian, Joss Whedon…they’re all building that pure gate that you want (“you must be this diverse to enter, fuck you evil ciswhitemale*!”).

    *Unless you agree with everything I’m saying and never critically think, then you’ll be tolerated.

    You talk about “sharing”. We’re fine with sharing; it’s *you* who doesn’t want to share, you want to take and change and transform and want the original to no longer exist. You don’t want characters like Quiet from Metal Gear Solid 5 (even though criticism of her comes down to puritan ramblings and body/slut-shaming).

    “For another thing, it makes it seem as though women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people are interlopers in the gaming community, invading it with the clear and present objective of making cis hetero white manchildren cry bourbon tears into their bacon-scented beards. It assumes that we haven’t been here all along, which is as naïve as it is insulting.”

    Oh please, please provide a source for this mental gymnastic performance. Again, your sexism and racism continue to show. I’ve been friend with gamers of different sexes, ages, nationalities…they’ve been around, and pretending to be progressive by pointing this out…it’s one of those “creating problem so you can create a solution” type of things.

    “If you’re a woman—and especially if you’re a queer woman, a woman of color, or both—you probably experience a lot of this firsthand. It’s part of the reasonFemHype exists. Women have, historically, not been allowed a seat at the table, and now that we’ve built our own table and chairs, we’re still constantly under siege. As a gamer and a woman, people line up around the block to credential you. Women who are let’s players, pro-gamers, game developers, and games journalists are subjected to a ridiculous level of scrutiny. “

    As are men! If you talk up being an expert on a game, you need to walk the walk and talk the talk. If I say I’m a great player at Magic: The Gathering, I’m expected to show it. If that culture is not for you, you don’t have to be part of it. Ignore those people. It’s quite easy!

    “People calling for diversity in games and in gaming spaces aren’t trying to steal your toys.”

    Just like Grand Theft Auto 5 wasn’t pulled from shelves in Australia…also, very condescending.

    Look, I’m sure you’ve encountered a wide range of gamers. You’ve obviously met the trolls, but there are a lot of nice, great gamers out there. Maybe if you put your bigotry aside, you might realize that some of them are good people.

    I wish you luck.


    1. I think I’ll title my own reply to you as “Respondent completely misses the point and instead creates strawmen so he (or she) can feel better about deriding those pesky cultural progressives.”

      It would be extremely easy to write-off your response as ignorant, arrogant, and egocentric; in fact, it’s so easy I’ll come out and say it. Your attempt to use personal anecdote and expertise is bad enough, but to fall back on a number of logical fallacies completely invalidates any point you might have. Here are the highlights you seem to get wrong…

      1) Sarcasm and being snide don’t make you sound intelligent. They make you sound like an ass.

      2) Diversity for the sake of diversity is done to counter decades of homogeneity and to provide an impetus for naturally evolved diversity within an industry. This is the same concept underlying Affirmative Action, Section 8, the ADA, etc. and is based on equity over equality.

      3) Your list of “minority” characters is meaningless; that’s like the bigot claiming they’re not prejudiced because they can make a list of black or gay friends. Which is amusing, because further down you go on about how you’re friends with such a diverse population. I wonder what that diverse population (if they exist) would say, should they read your diatribe?

      4) The point isn’t to force other genres to change their target audience; the point is to change the industry so that ~every~ audience has an equal opportunity at being targeted. If the industry switches from 80% games that target males to 50% of games… that’s called equity.

      5) You say others can’t make geek culture change, without any authority yourself over said culture yourself. “Geek culture” has been changing since the advent of “nerds” in the mid- to late-20th century. If you believe the sci-fi readers of the 50’s and the D&D players of the 70’s are the same “ostracized” groups as the Magic players of the 90’s or the FPS players of the 10’s, you have made a serious error in your schema. The current social dilemma in this industry is no different than any other societal movement, from Women’s Suffrage to Civil Rights; “geek culture” is, and always has been, a smaller reflection of the bigger picture.

      6) The second you use the term “social justice warrior” as a pejorative, your argument is invalid. It’s like Godwin’s law, showing a lack of open-mindedness and education; it’s amusing you’d even mention critical thinking, because you are showing a complete lack of it. “Social justice” is not some reprehensible concept; in fact, it is a major ethical principle underlying social support and mental health programs.

      7) You seem to be mixing up the concept of the gaming industry as something to be “shared” equally among every interest group versus a shift in cultural progression toward an inclusive society. Although we allow certain interest groups with unethical or abhorrent viewpoints in America, we do not necessarily want them to have an equal share. A game that denigrates women is no more acceptable than the KKK marching down the street; they have the right to espouse their viewpoints, but the consumer base and population also have the right to label them as “archaic thinking” and relegate them into the dark corners of society where they belong.

      8) Your constant claims of sexism and racism on the author are perfect examples of why ~you~ are the problem. You are completely blind to why demographics who have faced restrictions and lack of representation are upset. You claim that any hatred toward those who have long held authority throughout history (White CIS-males) is evidence of “reverse” discrimination, all while ignoring the very reasons why that anger exists. You’re like the kid that watches a dog get poked with a stick, and when the dog bites ~you~ you don’t blame your friend… you blame the dog.

      9) The fact that you think men experience “ridiculous scrutiny” because you’re a “great Magic player” is just the icing on the cake. Where is this fantasy world, so removed from everyone else and the world’s problems, that you live in? Have you even left your hometown or state?

      10) This author most likely has met a wide range of gamers, among them a significant amount of “trolls”. Yes, there a nice, great gamers out there who don’t actively practice misogyny, racism, or other discriminatory cognition or behavior. A significant portion of ~them~, however, do fall victim to ignorance, claiming because ~they~ don’t practice these acts and ~they~ have diverse friends… the problem doesn’t exist. That is the category you fall into; one of ignorance and closed-mindedness.

      And before you try a bevy of unfounded ad hominem attacks, I’m White and CIS-male. I’ve been a gamer (in all mediums) for 30 years. Yet somehow I can see and comprehend the problems underlying society (and thus gamer culture). Since you espouse “critical thinking”, ask yourself this: why is it you cannot?


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