Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

All Those Years of Not Being a Gamer Are Finally Paying Off

Illustration for article titled All Those Years of Not Being a Gamer Are Finally Paying Off

I've been a geek all my life. I love superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, all the usual geeky niches, but I've never really been much of a gamer. I didn't have any game consoles growing up, so I missed the chance to develop crucial reflex and hand-eye coordination skills during my formative years. Now, trying to pick up those skills as an adult just seems like a futile game of catch-up with all the people who have been playing this whole time. Thus, I don't like playing competitive multiplayer; partly because I always lose (by a considerable margin), but also because I don't even enjoy it that much when I win. So mainly the only reason I play video games is if they have a good story. I absolutely loved The Last of Us (I literally bought a PS3 just to play that game, a decision I do not regret in the least), because it was so cinematic, with such a dramatic focus on story (it's the first time I've ever consciously thought of the people on the screen in a video game as "actors" in their own right and not just CGI models). Right now, I'm playing X-Com: Enemy Within, and I'm having a fantastic time. But whenever I finish with that, I'll probably go right back to where I was before I started playing X-Com. I might go for whole months without playing any video games, and chances are pretty good that I won't even miss them.

But now, I feel like my disinterest in a more intense pursuit of video games has been justified. The problem with competitive gaming is, the sole purpose of it is to win. I've heard the saying, "I'm not a gamer because I have no life, but because I choose to have many." But competitive gaming is not about experiencing another life, another world; it's just about winning. There are even plenty of people who play single-player just for the thrill of victory, with little concern for the story or the experience. Sure, you can win in a variety of settings and motifs, but you're not experiencing a character progression or walking in someone's shoes, you're just trying to beat the other people (or the challenge), plain and simple. It's only about victory, asserting dominance, proving your superiority.

Proving your superiority… I have this theory about life in general that when people act really hatefully toward a whole group of people, it's not because they actually hate that group (at least, not on their deepest level), but because asserting their superiority over someone else is the only way they can feel good about themselves. I believe that's why there's so much polarity in our culture today. Politics have gotten more polarized than ever, as a significant example; religion, sports, even geeky subjects like DC vs. Marvel. Sometimes it really is all about the issues, but I think there are a lot of times when the issues are really just an excuse to assert your superiority over someone else.


And isn't that what this is really all about? If there are people out there who are really just interested in journalistic ethics, and who haven't taken part in any of the considerable nastiness going on here, then more power to you, I guess. Have fun trying to disassociate yourself from the unsavory characters who have picked up your flag. But from my (admittedly under-informed) position here on the sidelines, it really seems like the root and core of this issue is a belief that girl gamers intrinsically occupy a lower stratum on the gaming totem pole than any male gamers. That is literally, explicitly, trying to prove your superiority over someone.

Go back up to the second paragraph, and you'll see why that really shouldn't be very surprising. These don't strike me as the type of people who got into gaming for the art, for the story or the experience of living another life in another world. It seems a lot more likely to me that these are the same people who only play competitively, for the pleasure and the ego boost of winning, of asserting their dominance over other people (or the AI). So, in that sense, they're really not doing anything too different from what they've always been doing; they've just found a bigger game with bigger stakes (and bigger consequences for the losers). They're attacking this with the same fervor, the same killer instinct, and the same total disregard for the feelings of their opponents that they would a Halo or Call of Duty tournament.


And they're winning, aren't they? Multiple women have had to leave their homes because of the viciousness of the threats leveled against them. Now, Felicia Day has been doxxed after posting her opinion on GamerGate (just minutes after, according to the article), which really wasn't even that aggressive. These people aren't even being selective in their targeting anymore, they're just going after any old woman who says anything bad about them at all, in ways that will have a drastic effect on these women's psychological health and emotional well-being, probably for the rest of their lives. In the most literal sense, this is terrorism.

It might be kind of a dicey time to be using the T-word, when there are people actually being beheaded in other parts of the world. Yeah, that's definitely worse, but it doesn't mean this isn't bad. What they're doing is a terrible, honorless thing that's ruining people's lives, and they might even be harder to stop than ISIS, because they're committing their acts of terror from behind the cowardly shield of internet anonymity. They don't even care about winning a fair fight, they only care about winning. But that's the gamer's way, isn't it?


Okay, so now it's the point when I have to provide the disclaimer that, yes, I am aware that not all gamers are the same as these bottom-feeders who are doing this. But I still do think that the attitude demonstrated by these monsters is an exaggeration and extrapolation of the single-minded killer instinct that you kinda need to have to be good at and to enjoy competitive video-gaming. For most people, that killer instinct just stays at the level of simple, if maybe a little heated, fun. But personally, this whole thing has made me glad that my disinterest in playing games purely for the sake of winning means that maybe I don't have that killer instinct that's driving these people to do such incredibly malicious things, just so they can feel better about their own status.

So thank you, GamerGate; after many long years of just feeling like I was left out of something, I am now proud to not be a gamer (but if you think that's gonna stop me from finishing X-Com: Enemy Within, you're crazy).

Share This Story

Get our newsletter