The Gamer Identity

GamerGate was a dark time for the games industry. It was also a issue that I have previously researched and written about it for another assignment. As such, I am going to briefly cover the issue by reusing bits of my finished assignment, which you can find here if you are interested (its very, very badly recorded and edited).

GamerGate was a multi-pronged issue that had roots in various, existing issues (such as misogyny, slut-shaming, journalistic corruption and inadequate label “video games”) and grew out of them.

New Venn - DemoHowever, GamerGate was always “more about the murk of entrenched identity politics” than about the journalism (Hamilton, 2014). Looking to theories of cultural capital by Bourdieu and similar theories of fandom, we can begin to deconstruct this event (Blunden, 2004).

Gaming and “nerd” culture was once ostracized and criticised by other larger, more powerful social/cultural groups. Now, as gaming culture becomes mainstream there is a perceived loss of culture distinction and, therefore, the identity of gamers is threatened (Blunden, 2004).

According to Wu (2014):

“The central issue of Gamergate is some people think they own videogame culture. They don’t. Humans have made games since living in caves”

Additionally, gaming culture tends to fall heavily into taste privilege, where individual subjectivity is not accepted if it falls out of the accepted norm.

lo9lq1gsrhw6u7rozzowBeing a “true” gamer demands you having played “real” games, and lots of them. It is not a culture that is easy to join as it requires much time and effort just to qualify. The “Fake Gamer Girl” will fail this test. Newcomers will fail this test. But the test is often only forced upon those who don’t fit the typical profile (Wanenchak, 2014). As Keogh (2014) states, this typical profile is “young, western men and teenage boys with a disposable income”: a “homogenous ‘gamer’ demographic of young men that games journalism and marketing themselves cultivated over the past decades”.

video-games-ads-80s-90s-15Not wanting to lose the cultural distinction and capital associated with being a gamer, the community has become territorial. According to Keogh (2014), this reaction is happening because they “need someone to blame for the status quo of videogames shifting to no longer be devoted to them and them alone”.

“It is about keeping women and minorities out of games. It is about fighting against diversity and fighting for a return to homogenisation. It is about maintaining privilege.”

They have turned from fans to fanatics, keeping everyone else out. When video games, gamer identity and gaming culture are criticised and questioned, we feel as though our actions, passions and own identity are the ones under scrutiny (Blunden, 2004). “We are seeing what was only ever a small, consumer-focused subculture kicking and screaming itself into the realisation that this is all they ever were, and that videogames as a diverse ecology of cultural forms – commercial, popular, niche, personal – is moving on without them” (Keogh, 2014).

REFERENCES

Blunden, A. (2004). Bourdieu on Status, Class and Culture. Retrieved from
http://home.mira.net/~andy/works/bourdieu-review.htm

Chu, A. (2014). Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds. Retrieved from
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/27/your-princess-is-in-another-castle-misogyny-entitlement-and-nerds.html

Hamilton, K. (2014). Felicia Day and GamerGate: This is What Happens Now. Retrieved from
http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/10/felicia-day-and-gamergate-this-is-what-happens-now/

Keogh, B. (2014). Game of Moans: The Death Throes of the Male ‘Gamer’. Retrieved from
https://overland.org.au/2014/09/game-of-moans-the-death-throes-of-the-male-gamer/

Wanenchak, S. (2014). Not a Real Gamer: Identity and Conspicuous Consumption. Retrieved from
http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2014/09/09/not-a-real-gamer-identity-and-conspicuous-consumption/

Wu, B. (2014). No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry. Retrieved from
http://www.polygon.com/2014/7/22/5926193/women-gaming-harassment

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