Girls Win All the Time (A response to Juliet Kahn)

The temptation to make a “KAHN!” joke is so hard right now.  But we’re about to look at another article that is clearly jaded and biased and doesn’t give a fuck about accuracy, because this is just journalism, after all.  Who cares about the truth when there’s a great narrative to spin!  There is a great quote from a show I love that I think will put this all in perspective, but I’ll save that for the end.  The article I am replying to today is from a publication called Offworld, which I have never heard of before today (another online publication that has a horrific bias and nobody has heard of.  Terrific), so I can’t speak to that.  Instead, I’ll talk directly to Juliet, and show her how everything that she is about to make generalizations about is bullshit.  Here’s a link to her article.  Now let’s talk about it.

“Video games are a boy thing,” my sister explains to me. “I feel like it’s a known fact. GameStop is a boy store. The commercials are for boys. It’s just something everyone knows.”

Wow.  Your sister is so wrong.  So utterly wrong.  Why, I went and picked up Batman: Arkham Knight, a terrible game not worth your money, from that store and had a lovely conversation with the young lady who worked at the desk.  One of my dearest friends is gay as can be and she gets her games from Gamestop.  So does a lady-friend that I worked with.  Granted, a lot more boys shop there than girls, but that’s because the hardcore gamers are predominately more male than female.  But we are very open to welcoming the fairer sex into our fold.  I’m sure the “boys don’t want women in gaming” stereotype will come into this at some point.  So yeah, your sister’s dumb.  What are her credentials, again?

My sister is 17. She runs a One Direction fan Twitter with 10,000 followers. She plans to major in fashion marketing. She’s a cheerleader. She is as close as anyone can get to what gaming’s sweaty fever dreams envision, desire, and shame as “Girl.”

What a trustworthy source she is.  And of course, she is just so unbelievably sexy that all of us “sweaty fever dreams” gamers are just lusting after her.  Yeah, I’m so sure.  Nice to see that the stereotype of gamers as perverted beasts is already being formed.  I’d bet you a buffalo nickel that most gamers that you are going out of your way to stereotype would be too afraid to approach a girl like that in public.  I’m assuming that she has an air of self-confidence.  Speaking as a member of the gamer community, we are often a very introverted lot.  Not always, but a fair number of us.  We aren’t having rape-y dreams about your little sister.  We’re just playing games.

Like me, she knows from personal experience that girls play video games, and would hotly defend it if challenged. But a second tenet holds sway, as contrary as it is simultaneous: video games are for boys. The video games we’ve played don’t count. They’re concessions, scraps, snatches at the lucrative attention of little girls. It’s not that my sister and I don’t like real games; it’s that the games we like aren’t real.

Because no woman could possibly like Borderlands 2, right?  No girl could possibly enjoy The Last of Us, right?  Women have no interest in Final Fantasy X, right?  Oh, wait, that’s bullshit!  Plenty of women get into games that are “made for boys.”  Outright lie.  They are made for gamers.  I know plenty of guys and girls who like all sorts of games.  But here’s the thing – there is real research to show that the average female gamer plays cell phone or social media games like Candy Crush or Flappy Bird.  Wait, that’s market research.  I’m sure that your little sister is a much better source.

But I nod in agreement. “Yeah. Same.” <pI have a Steam account. I have a favorite Soul Calibur title. But fundamentally, we feel the same: not gamers, not welcome, and not interested in most of what we see at GameStop. Those years we spent swapping DS cartridges were, for the both of us, our only experience of games as uncomplicated fun. Then we grew up, and an avalanche of qualifiers buried us.

So, you don’t like what you see?  Don’t play it.  You have a Steam account?  That’s good.  There is a plethora of Indie titles on there that are cheap and easy to get.  If you were to look outside of Gamestop, you might see something really interesting.  I’m amazed that someone who has a Steam account doesn’t know this.  Do you have it as an afterthought?

We’re not gamers. We don’t play real games. We should stay out. My proximity to nerdhood, her proximity to the mainstream—neither matters. Video games did not grow up with us; video games did not grow up for us.

I can see where this is going – video games should be made for us!  They should make games that we want!  I’ll beat the shit out of that argument when we get there…

I press my sister to explain how she knows games are a “boy thing,” how everyone “just knows this.” “I don’t know,” she answers tentatively. “Y’know, the commercials, and… everything. All of it. You know?” It’s difficult to explain why and how she just knows, in part because parsing the roots of any sociological phenomenon is difficult, but also because it’s just such an immutable fact for us.

I’ll tell you how she “knows.”  She knows because she isn’t part of this part of this community.  She’s a socialite who cheerleads and makes One Direction posts on Twitter.  If she games, that’s cool.  But you know another group of people who hang with those kinds of people – social justice types.  And guess what they have in common – they don’t know shit about this medium.  There are a thousand and one posts showing that these people cherry-pick, manipulate statistics or outright lie to make a point.  I get the feeling that your little sister has seen crappy TV ads where you have Kate Upton shoving her tits in the screen to sell a crappy mobile game, along with ads for the big-budget action shooters, and that’s probably the bulk of what she’s seen about gaming, outside of the occasional SJW post on Twitter or (and I’m going out on a limb here in assuming that she has one of these) Tumblr.  In other words – she’s wrong and she doesn’t know shit, because this CLEARLY isn’t a community that she has much investment in.  And that’s fine.  To each her own.  But you are making a generalization about our community based on her bad information.  I might suggest you get some outside sources.

For girls who do not fight to be a part of the club, who are not conversant in that world of quarter-circles and Konami codes, it’s as codified as all the other gendered tenets of our lives. Video games aren’t for us the way football and finance aren’t for us: sure, there are girls who break in, and we applaud them for it at a comfortable distance. But where there is a welcome mat rolled out for men, there is only a bloodied stretch of briar for women. And it’s just not something we have it in us to brave.

What?!  You just make a point that you admire girls who get into gaming, but do it at a distance, then say that gaming is so hard for you to crack into.  What the fuck?!  So, instead of maybe trying to talk to girls who are into hardcore gaming circles, you just admire them from a distance.  Why am I supposed to feel sympathetic toward you.  Given what you’ve said, the fact that you are not into gaming seems to very much be on you.  And your little sister too.

When it comes to gaming, however, I am bereft of such confidence. I shrug and sound very much like the dozens of women I have known who protest that their love of Raina Telgemeier and Archie Double Digests does not make them a real fan. I don’t get games, I argue. Don’t pass me the controller, I’ll only embarrass myself. It’s not my turf. It’s not for me. I’m a girl, ok?

Okay, I’m really starting to think that our entire argument boils down to – I make no effort to be a part of this community, and I refuse to leave my comfort zone and maybe look dumb to be more social.  Now, you want gaming to be more for you.  Fuck that!  There is no obligation for gaming to try and cater to people like you.  Someone who makes no effort to be involved in this.  If you wanna be a part of this community, you gotta leave that comfort zone.  Yeah, gaming is pretty tight.  We hang on message boards and in special circles and are very close to this hobby.  I get that it can look imposing, but if you and teeny-bop had bothered to go into a group and say, “hi, I was looking to get into more competitive gaming.  Would you happen to know where a good place to start is?” I bet that you would get a lot of positive responses.  Along with some asshole troll, but that’s the Internet.  We all deal with it at one point or another.

This is our reality, and that of so many women, one that is silent, vast, yet largely unremarked upon wherever gaming is discussed. How did we learn this, I ask her again. How did our friends learn it? How did our mother? How do so many women, even today, learn that video games are not for them?

Because you make NO effort to leave your comfort zone and try and get into this community.  This is by your own admission.  So yeah, that was easy.

“It’s everything,” she says. There is a pause. “And everyone knows it. I mean, there are girls who game. But everyone knows it’s not for them. But… yeah, it’s everything.” Over the following hour, we dissect “everything” as best we can. We find that, broadly speaking, there are three forces at work in teaching girls that video games are not for them.

Oh, finally, we get to an argument.  Not just stupid semantics by you and teeny-bop.  Let’s hear it.

The first force is disqualification: It takes into account the fact that girls almost certainly have played video games, but then carefully categorizes the games they’re most likely to play as illegitimate. It’s not hard to find this attitude wherever games are discussed. A mystery thriller like Her Story, a narrative exploration game like Gone Home, bestselling titles like Animal Crossing and The Sims, all manner of virtual pet sites: Not real games! Walking simulators! Boring! Easy! Dealing with women’s emotions, not having guns, or simply being enjoyed by women en masse—all of these qualities act as disqualifiers. It’s not just that women supposedly aren’t interested in games; it’s that the mere presence of femininity defines the games they like out of existence.

Okay, bullshit!  Yeah, Gone Home is a game that has had a lot of controversy surrounding it.  It got a ton of praise heaped on it that it didn’t deserve.  I do happen to think that it’s a game.  But it is not as good as it was screamed to be.  But Animal CrossingThe Sims?  Do you not realize how big the fan bases are for those?  Okay, the latter, not so much.  In fact, that franchise can die now.  It’s run its course of how cute it is.  Animal Crossing, on the other hand, is so loved by many Nintendo fans that when they announced that the latest entry is tied in to this Amibo bullshit, people lost it.  They just want to play the game.  That’s it.  Not to have a ton of toys with it.  Did you do ANY research before writing this?  Yes, there is a debate about what is or isn’t a game.  It’s a debate worth having.  Because some games do get more praise than they deserve.  But it’s because we have these debates that new ideas about games and making games come to be.  That’s a good thing.  And why it would help to have your facts correct.  Next.

This is the second force that teaches girls video games aren’t for them: the social hierarchy of the gaming community, and the narrow, deforming spaces it offers to the women who do persevere. “They have to become one of two types. There’s the one gamer boys think is really hot, and they want her around, and they want to play games with her. But they’re still going to make her uncomfortable and say really explicit shit. I see it happen. If she’s cute, they tell her, ‘oh, I want to fuck you,’ and if she says no, she’s a bitch. She can’t complain.”
And the other type? “The other type,” she says, “is the ‘weird’ gamer girl who sits alone in the cafeteria with her DS while the gamer dudes call her fat and ugly. Both girls get put down by guys. And anyway, gamer boys try to own gaming. They claim it as theirs, as a boy thing. They automatically think girls are doing it for attention. No girl wins.

There they are!  The stereotypes are back!  Another place where it would have been a great idea to do some research outside of teeny-bop sis.  So glad that your source has so much experience.  Because you two have gone into this community and done diligent research, right?  What’s that?  You refuse to do so?  Well, that sure is helpful.  Maybe, you could do like Christina Hoff Sommers did in a video for her Factual Feminist series, where she went into gaming and discovered that it was not this sexist stereotype that the SJW types like to pander.  I’m not even going after these stereotypes she makes.  They are so blatantly untrue.  Anyone who has spent any time in gaming circles will realize that.  There are gamers of all walks of life.  Gay, straight, hot, not, white, black, asian, you name it.  Rich, poor, we’re all part of this, because we love the hobby.  If you had actually tried to get involved, you might know that!  Fucking idiots.

My sister’s insight is startling to me.

Oh my god!  Oh my fucking god.  I nearly choked when I read that.  Yeah, she’s a BRILLIANT fucking source.  As has been so clearly demonstrated.  You even go on to talk about how she hasn’t been involved in this community.  By your own admission, she doesn’t know shit!  About anything not pop culture, that is.  Clearly.

She has come to understand that gaming is obsessed with her as a fuckable object, but not a human being. “It’s all about women’s bodies,” she says. “It’s gross.” Women’s bodies. Not women’s words, women’s feelings, women’s dreams, women entire.

Remember those stereotypes.  Well, Juliet, I can add you to the long list of SJWs who have cut lesbian and bisexual women out of the conversation about sexuality in games.  And, naturally, we’re all just pigs who want to fuck the women.  No gay guys in gaming.  Nope.  No gay women, either, who might also enjoy looking at other women.  That “insight” that your sister has is just astounding.  My character in Bloodborne is currently out of Insight, and I think that she has more than this girl.

I describe games like Journey, Transistor, Life is Strange, and Portal to her: games with female protagonists, created by women,

Neat fact – both Journey and Life is Strange were originally posed by men.  Another place where it would have helped to have done some research and have citations.  Like how there were articles by SJWs decrying Life is Strange because it was written by men.  You know a game that was posed by a woman?  How about Bayonetta?  No?  Wait, that’s one of those female characters who is just a fuckable object.  You go on to say that your little sister has only seen the ads with Kate Upton.  You’re making my point better than I can.  Thanks.

This is the third force: marketing. “There aren’t really any games that seem positive to me,” my sister explains. “They’re all about violence and nudity. I don’t like how the female body is made out. It makes me really uncomfortable. All of the commercials are for guys.”

I’m running out of things to say about this.  It’s so much bullshit!  You even show that!  You talk about games like Never Alone.  A game that was made in my home state.  Is it our fault that teeny-bop doesn’t look outside of television to know what games are out?  Is that our fault?  Fuck no!  It’s teeny-bop’s!  There are a ton of online resources that she could use to find all kinds of games.  You have a Steam account.  Show her some of what’s out there.  For real, on Steam, the list is endless.  You seem like the SJW type.  Why not show her Zoe Quinn’s magnum opus, Depression Quest.  See if she likes a choose-your-own-adventure game.  Maybe the she’ll see why people like me call THAT a non-game.  All your evidence has been things that teeny-bop has brought up.  That’s it.  There’s nothing to refute.  Your source is bullshit.  Your evidence is worthless.  Anyone who has spent any legitimate time in the gaming community can see this.  But you won’t do that.  And teeny-bop won’t tear her eyes off the television and do some research, either.  Get her a Steam account and let her see for herself.  Wait, that would get her real insight.  Best keep her away from that.  She might learn something.

And that’s certainly what we need: more games featuring women, made by women, willing to tell stories about pop stars, witches, and queens, willing to work in palettes beyond army drab. But that will be meaningless if our understanding of what a game is and who a gamer can be does not expand wide enough or visibly enough to reach and include my little sister.

Well then, tell teeny-bop to learn some coding, and get out and make the games that she wants.  It’s a free market.  As we’ve learned from the success of Steam and games that can become Indie darlings, success can come from anywhere.  You want games about pop-stars, witches and queens?  Fantastic.  Get to making them.  What’s stopping you.  What’s that?  Stereotype about how women aren’t welcome in the industry?  Yeah, tell that Kellee Santiago.  Wait, she got in with Ouya.  Bad example.  But there are plenty others.  Tell teeny-bop to do some research.  You’d be amazed what it can do.  You could do some too!  Consider it a family activity.  Something you can do together.  Then, both of you can become less ignorant.

And that’s all I can say about this.  That article was dumb, and this goes to show the typical level of SJW research.  Talking to teeny-bop sister and seeing her as insightful.  Even though NEITHER of you have, by your own admission, gone into this community to learn.  Just brilliant.  Remember that quote from before.  It’s especially fitting now.

Until next time, a quote,

“There is no truth anymore, sport.  Just good or bad fiction.”  -Denny Crane, Boston Legal

Peace out,

Maverick

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