I Don’t Know if I Count Anymore…(Gamer Talk)

I’ve been playing video games since before I was steady on my feet. From playing Dr. Mario alongside my grandma, to using my early reading skills to play Nintendo era RPGs. When people talk about being an ‘OG’ gamer, I used to enthusiastically count myself among them. Video games have shaped my life, helped me see worlds I never would have experienced, and brought me together with some of my closest friends. So when the question comes up if I am ‘hardcore’ or if I am a ‘gamer’, I want to say yes.

Unfortunately, I’m getting old. I’ve always feared becoming a dinosaur, too old to realize why some obvious topic should be the way it is, but here I am. I never wanted to reach this point, but I feel ready to make the declaration and wear my scales proud.

Gaming has changed. Not just in the obvious ways. The systems are faster, stronger, bigger, beautiful machines that push out astounding graphics and action. I don’t care about that, I haven’t been left behind by what the systems are capable of doing. In comparison, my grandmama can walk into the room while Madden is on and she will think that an actual game of football is on. 

If anything I think the consoles still have some catching up to do, and their catch-up game is slowing down the PC market. 

No, I’m disturbed by the community. I grew up playing games, cooperative and competitive, and I can’t understand the vitriol. Maybe it is because when I was growing up, our communication was so stunted. Sure you could be a jerk in the chat of a round of Starcraft, but it took too much work. Why not just play the game, and if you were going to try to be a dick, do it in the closing moments before you win or lose. Sure you are still a terrible sport, but at least you didn’t drag down the whole game with it. 

I’m not saying that people weren’t rude in the past. I’m sure anyone could tell you stories of terrible neckbeard fueled ferocity from the arcade era to their first time in VOIP. Still, in my experience, we realized they were being jerks. Now we surround ourselves in an atmosphere of aggression, and I don’t feel like I can interact with video games without some part of the experience feeling negative. Negative responses to the company that made it, negative responses to the game itself, negative chat in the multi-player VOIP, negativity even in the chatrooms while it is being streamed. 

I understand that games are an avenue for removing stress and frustration, but does that require so much hate? I used to relax to calming games like kirby, or overcome difficult obstacles in adventure games. I enjoy working as a team to win multi-player games. I gain no joy from getting pissed off at a fellow player, a stranger, a teammate.

The world of gaming feels twisted now. The elements that should have vanished, like rampant misogyny and racism, haven’t. The medium has turned up the volume on the petulant child-like world that once felt like a misguided stereotype.

Whatever, I’m going to go back to playing Pikmin 3. I’ll get back to writing about something less negative next time, maybe holy wars.

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I Can Explain That: Feminism

Time for our newest segment, “I Can Explain That”, starring me and the internet.

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I have a confession to make, and I know everyone will be absolutely shocked. I’m a feminist.

Okay, no real theatrics there, but you would be surprised how many people need to hear that. To me, being a feminist is a natural extension of my secularism (or humanism, or skepticism… my philosophy and such). If you question the validity of a deity, you should be a feminist. 

Are all atheists, feminists? No, actually big poppa Hitchens was known for some rather misogynistic views (though he may have still claimed being a feminist), mostly based on the social basis for gender roles. You will find a lot of atheists with different views on the topic, but for me there is no choice. So I get a little concerned when I see some of my nerdly or atheist brothers and sisters go down the road toward misogyny. 

I can understand it. For those who don’t prowl the internet, there is occasionally (read: often) an unhealthy backlash against the push for women’s rights. While most of us don’t want to be a ‘bad guy’, some vocal people can’t help but push back whenever women make a little headway. 

You may have heard some of it before: “I don’t get why it isn’t just called humanism, why try to help only women?” “You think women don’t control the world? They can get whatever they want.” “Women have it so easy, yet they just keep on asking for more.”

I said the first one in the past, and I think my reasons why aren’t far from the fear (yes, it is fear) that is behind comments similar. 

Men suffer, as a general fact. Like women, like any other human, men have bad days, have bad lives, have bad experiences that came about directly from being men. As children we learn about feminism, and not too distant from ‘white guilt’ a young man can feel the burden of ‘men’s guilt’ (and White Men’s guilt, well then you have Stormfront.org). What in the world isn’t your fault? You wake up early for school, try to go hang out at lunch with your friends, try to seem just cool enough that you get laid sometime before heat death, and then a lesson in class comes along where you find out that you personally fucked up the life of every single woman on the planet. You don’t know where you found the time, maybe it was while you took a piss break? It was you though, in a secret pact with every other person with a penis.

At least that is how it comes across. In defense of my teachers, I wasn’t always the best student. So when you start to craft those juvenile opinions of your own, and you realize that everyone around you is in agreement on this, that this patriarchy is at fault for the world’s woe, you feel the need to call a timeout. Didn’t we just have a woman run for president? Besides, they have been able to vote for ages, get whatever job they please short of some places in the military, and isn’t the military a dangerous trap for young men? Yeah, you say, all those ‘male dominated’ fields are death traps that we are pushed into just as fast as women are pushed toward nursing. 

I’m sorry, I’m getting off track here. The point is, the knee-jerk reaction isn’t as ridiculous as some people may think. The problem is how this reaction comes together, how it is formulated.

To put it simply, cowardice. Instead of studying the thing they oppose, instead of being a proper skeptic of the feminist position, the angry men of the internet pick at low-hanging fruit. 

Because young feminists don’t spring from the proverbial womb as master debaters (heh, good joke). These young men, women, all, are figuring out what is important to them. As they shake the bonds of oppressive concepts, like unfair beauty standards, suppression of opinion, and a culture built on bedding women as a success indicator, you will find disorganized social campaigns about appearance, loud as all hell cries to be heard, and attempts to equalize the sexual landscape. 

Is it feminism? Definitely. It isn’t always fair to pin it down and call it the whole of feminism. You see one woman show off her breasts and caption it ‘this is feminism’, you get some upvotes on reddit, obviously you are a master social commentator. 

It turns into a spiral, feminists reacting to society, misogynists underhandedly reacting to feminists, feminists reacting to the misogynists, then repeat. 

So why am I a feminist? For me there is no reason to limit someone’s access to success based on what is between their legs, or what they like to fantasize about. I have no fears that women are scheming in dark corners to come and bite off my dick (good luck, I keep it locked up at night). I know that women are not a cabal looking to surpass man-kind. I know that fighting against feminism hurts me as much as it hurts women.

How do I know that? I’ve met a few women in my time (no seriously, at least 5). My mom happens to be one, I had a boss once who was a non-practicing woman, a friend or two. 

I know that when women are kept out of high paying leadership positions, that is my mom being kept out of higher positions at a job she had decades of experience at, which hurt her kids (that was me, by the way). I know that when women have to fear sexual assault and harassment even in the office, that is my wonderful boss who changed my life in college. When women think they have to bow to all of man, they will have trouble standing. I know that misogynistic discrimination could hurt my girlfriend’s career, could hurt the development of my sisters’ minds, and could drive a wedge between the sexes that are never far apart otherwise. 

Look, I’ve said a lot, so let me try to explain it in one quick sentence. We should all be feminists, because we live with women, we love women (some of us more than others), and a large deal of us are women. Is that really so complicated?