Our society generally believes that each individual is unique. To a certain extent that is correct, because all of us have differing life experiences that shape who we are. Despite this many people feel more comfortable categorizing themselves in groups whether it be based on fashion, music, or different hobbies. There is no problem with sharing interests with other people, but does everyone who likes certain things also have to like certain other things? To be into indie music do I have to love Of Montreal and dress like a hobo? Does being into video games mean that I like anime, Mountain Dew, cosplay and LOLcats? Having spent time in the industry itself, and having rubbed elbows with other gamers in Gamestop or digital elbows with gamers in online forums I could see how outsiders would be lead to believe these stereotypes. If you met me in person, you probably wouldn’t even know that I played games, and that is the way it should be. Do you necessarily know when someone watches a lot of movies, listens to a lot of music, or reads a lot of books just by looking at them? Even by hanging out with me a lot you wouldn’t even know this about me, because I have a lot of interests and gaming is just one of them. I think having and maintaining a lot of interests is the key to breaking free from the shackles of stereotypical gaming.
In my daily travels I do see a lot of pimple faced, smelly, pony-tailed gamers that give these nay sayers credibility. But did you know that a high percentage of the people that actually make the games are clean cut, polo wearing, classy individuals? The people who make these games that you love to play are not coming to work in death metal shirts and covering their long greasy hair with a skull cap that features some silly lines about voices in their head. Most gamers I see in the wild are easily identifiable in the way that they all look like they got dressed in Hot Topic that morning. I have actually been in there myself, they do have some cool retro gaming shirts there. Where many people go wrong with gaming shirts is buying ones that say stupid things on them, or are poorly designed in that they are too busy. Simple, obscure, and subdued is usually the best way to go if you must wear gaming shirts. What I am trying to convey here, is that you can love gaming without wearing the gaming uniform. If we look up to these gaming designers and the products they create so much, why not live more like them? Dressing well, taking showers, and having other interests other than gaming would be a good start.
But gamers do have other interests, and the typical interests that a lot of gamers share are also a large problem. Anime is probably the biggest offender. I absolutely hate J-Pop, anime, and everything related to it. There is an undeniably large portion of gamers that love these things, which is somewhat understandable because Japan is the birthplace of many of the games we love. To this day I still prefer Japanese games because they tend to focus on polish and game play more than their American counterparts, who are worried about making games into epic movies. That’s not to say that some Japanese developers don’t excel at making terrible games based on silly convoluted plots, but I will refrain from making specific examples here as this article is probably inflammatory enough. I don’t know how much of a problem this will be in the future, as Japan’s influence on gaming seems to be waning, but it is still something that permeates the gaming culture and bothers me. Neogaf, arguably the most important online gaming forums out there, are full of grown men with lolita anime avatars which really makes me ill. To be fair there are also a good number of members there that feel the same way I do about it. There are a good number of people there that do live normal lives and merely share gaming as an interest, but they tend to stick to the off topic section of the site.
Is it a problem that people like these things? Am I trying to talk down to people that do? No, of course not. People should be able to like whatever they want. I am just trying to do the gaming community a real service, one that will lift these terrible stereotypes that have burdened us for upwards of twenty years. I want people to stop exhibiting this sort of hive mind mentality where a true gamer is someone that needs HD graphics and a “deep” story in their games. I want everybody to take a step back from everything and do what they want because they like it, not because it is the social norm for a group. Whenever I go to Gamestop the people there are always surprised at the games I am buying or how much I know about them because I don’t fit the gamer mold at all. They look at me and wonder how I could possibly know anything about games, all based on the way I dress, or the way I present myself. This is truly sad, that a person can be looked down on for appearing to be a normal member of society. I don’t want you to change who you are, I just want you to question who you are, and why you are the way you are. A gamer can be anyone, including that soccer mom who drives kids around in a minivan, including your kid sister, and even that college bro that plays a lot of Mario Kart. The sooner people accept that, the sooner gamers will step forward and be accepted in society like those who are fans of music, movies or books.