Typifying Gamers is Bad
To start, I want to say that disagreeing with individual views does not fully shape my opinion of an individual. Now that we have that out of the way, I was reading my blog roll, and ran across this guest post on Sugar & Blood. Matty also rebutted it; and while I am not necessarily going to have a full rebuttal here, these two posts did get me to thinking, and talking with my dearest, who reads a great deal more in the feminist circles than I do.
Where I’m Coming From
I think that it is important for people to understand how I categorize myself, or, more to the point, my history. I am in my 40s. I’ve been a video gamer at some level for over 30 years. My first computer games were on a Wang Desk computer. I both read and ran dial up BBSes in the 80s. I’ve rarely played console games, and generally never seriously. I used to be a huge fan of turn-based games like Civilization (II was my favorite). I’ve been playing WoW for nearly its entire run, without a break, because I’m the kind of gamer who likes to play the same game until I’m utterly bored with it.
A significant number of people with those or similar credentials are male. I know this because the majority of those who I have been in contact with during those decades, up until the last one, are male. However, while a significant number of these individuals are male, that does not mean that there are no women, or that those women’s goals are either similar or completely different from the men who have been gaming for decades.
The Problem With Typification
When you start using typifying statements, you do several things. First, you will categorize people without a full picture. Second, you will label people incorrectly because you don’t have that full picture. And most importantly, when you go far enough in those statements, you stop seeing the exceptions to your own rules.
How many of us complain about the stereotype that gamers all live in their mother’s basements, can’t get a date, and have no idea how to interact socially – regardless of gender? Xak even does this himself, while discussing why women use overly sexualized behavior in game to get attention from men with low self esteem and poor socialization skills.
Xak then discusses his categories, which all make assumptions about where these women get their behavior. I presume (or at least I hope!) that he does not ask these women questions about their weight, sexual orientation, gender orientation, or a myriad other things that would actually give him a more complete picture. But here’s the thing… how often does he run a random dungeon with a woman and never realize she is female because it just doesn’t come up? Is he asking every random player if they’re female? If a woman isn’t typifying one of his categories, he’s probably paying attention to their ability as a player, not their gender. It’s very difficult for me to not assume that anyone who doesn’t fit his first or third categories isn’t automatically placed in the second – even though they may not be hiding their gender at all.
I took a glance at my friends list in WoW, which I am not going to share due to the number of RealID individuals in it. Of 31 individuals, 13 of them are women. I do not really know how most of them play, but I do know that several of them are feminists. I also know several of them are guild leaders, raiders, or raid leads. On top of that, there are a variety of professionals, including doctors, technology professionals, and the like. None of them behave like slutty insecure nymphos.
Sexual Behavior In Game
Even more than the categoires Xak assigns, is the accusation in the title that women in WoW are slutty insecure nymphos. For starters, Nymphomania is an actual psychological diagnosis. It is more than a little presumptuous to accuse the entire female player base of having the same psychosis.
Second, the pot should not be calling the kettle black. To whit; a couple of weeks ago, I was on my warlock in Loch Modan. The toon is a femaleHhuman. As I was minding my own business turning in quests, two players; one on a male Worgen and the other on a male Dwarf; started to flirt with my character and mock fight over her. I tried to rebuff them gently, but they would have nothing of it. I tried to rebuff them more firmly, but they just tried harder. I ended up hearthing, flying to Ironforge, and doing a few dailies in the hopes that they would get bored and move on, so I could go back to playing the game.
Who in that scenario was being slutty? My toon’s gear was quest rewards, and at that level, they’re not all that. I had not interacted with them before they started, so they had to make assumptions about the player behind the character. And no, I realize that I cannot assume that those players were men, nor did I. The judgment that I made about those players is that I didn’t want to interact with them. They went onto my ignore list, and I went about my business.
Claiming that a woman who shows any sexual preference, flirts, or otherwise indicates that she has any sexual identity at all is a slut is the height of double-standards. Also, I have seen several situations where men will start flirting with someone who is known to be female, to turn around and call her a slut the moment she either turns a cold shoulder to them, turns up the heat higher than they want, or starts to flirt with someone else. And, of course, the drama that is started by this sort of behavior is often blamed on the woman, regardless of anything other than her existence in the situation.
The long and short of it is that when you start putting people into categories, you stop seeing the individuals, especially the exceptions.