So how much of this stereotype actually spills over into real life? From my experience, very little. Being a pretty hardcore gamer myself, I know a lot of people who are heavy into playing video games. However, not one of them falls into the above category. First of all, I don’t know any men who still live at home. Secondly, who the fuck has a basement? The anatomy of the run-of-the-mill Irish household has no room for a basement in which a fat son can hide away from the world. Multiplayer RPGs seem to be the ones who get pinned with this particular stereotype, as if playing a game that demands a great deal of time means that you cannot interact with real people on a basic level. This, of course, is horse shit! It boils down to the classic misconception that if you play video games, they become all consuming. The more you get into the game, the less capable you are in the real world. You forget how to converse with humans, and before you know it, you’re running down the road eating mushrooms and collecting coins. Some of my friends play Starcraft II at a high level; others have clocked up months on WoW throughout
the years. Instead of becoming the embodiment of gluttony though, or shells of their former selves, they simply stayed the same as they always were. They were the same guys coming back out of these games as they were going in. Each one is still a friendly, approachable, fun person, who loves to jump headfirst into a Friday night out on the town as soon as they finish work.
Time spent on games seems to be a big concern when tarring all gamers with the one brush. It’s an easy target. If I told you how many hours I’ve clocked up on my favourite Pokémon game, you’d probably be quite shocked. If I then continued to tell how long I’ve played all of my Pokémon titles combined, you’d wind up even more shocked than you would if Pikachu hit you with his Thunderbolt attack… and then stole your wallet. A lot of folks just can’t fathom the fact that video games take a long time to master. Even games that seem simplistic on the outside can deepen to unveil huge, powerful gaming experiences. If someone wants to play Final Fight, for example, they can easily beat their way through it by hammering the attack button and getting fifteen shades of Street Fighter knocked out of them. No problem; just hit continue and keep going. However, if they actually want to be good at the game, it takes a lot of practice. The same could be said for Metal Slug. Easy as pie with infinite credits, hard as nails without. This usually throws down the stereotype of gamers’ having no life.
At the end of the day, whether you’re more comfortable with this evening’s TV schedule, or slaughtering tyrants in Resident Evil, it’s all just a spot of light entertainment.
Another classic stereotype is the one that brands anyone who’s ever as much as touched a console as brainwashed, violent thugs. That’s right, gamers are untamed and unthinking. They cannot tell reality from fiction, and thus proceed to tear the social fabric of the civilised world to shreds. Again, there’s a lot of bullshit wrapped up in this one.
I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never gotten pissed off with a game. There are many frustrating titles out there, and at this stage I think I’ve played them all. At least, all the ones that seem to be designed for the sole reason of making the players’ blood boil. I’ve screamed profanities at the TV screen and called my character’s mother a cunt (although I’ve sure Lara Croft’s mam was actually a lovely lady indeed) on more than one occasion. However those days are pretty much a thing of the past, and looking back I’ve realised that it wasn’t the game that annoyed me, I was simply in a bad place in my life. Nowadays I’m a lot more chilled out and focused. If I have my head torn off by yet another ugly-ass orc, I simply try again. What I didn’t ever do, however, was replicate what I saw on the screen. I’ve never torn anyone’s head off or shot up a jeep full of foreign soldiers, for that matter. Even when I’d get pissed off, I knew that the game was in fact a game. I’d step back, make a coffee, and relax before returning to it. At no time did I ever even entertain the idea that the game world and the real world were one and the same.
Because of the amount of action and violence in gaming, it’s the scapegoat for everything. If a crime occurs, the criminal must have been jamming on a spot of Xbox before he stabbed his mother in the eyes, right? People really seem to believe that these games cause a surge of evil inside their players. If it happens on screen, then it must then also happen in real life; the game said so. Monkey see, monkey do. It’s Call of Duty’s fault, it’s Doom’s fault, it’s Mortal Kombat’s fault, it’s Need For Speed’s fault; it’s anyone’s fault except for the sick fucks who actually committed the murder! Many people would have you believe that this is the case, but it’s completely untrue. There was war, crime, and shootings before there were ever video games. Also, some of the biggest gaming nations in the world have the lowest crime rate. So just like the Atari Jaguar- do the fucking math!
It’s hard to tell who like to blow a few hours on a game from those who don’t, because there are no real telltale signs. Unlike most social groups, uniformity doesn’t exist in the world of video games. Sports fans can often be easily recognised because they proudly wear the jersey of their favourite team. Fans of Rock music can often be picked out of a crowd because they wear a load of black, and hipsters are noticeable because they usually wear a load of shite. Gamers, however, don’t fall into any of these kinds of categories. They just wear whatever.
The virgin thing is one that always makes me chuckle. Out of all the gamers that I know, very few of them are single. Most are in long term relationships. And some of those who are not spoken for are instead ladies men. A bunch of absolute charmers that have no issues in the getting-laid department. Another part of that analogy that I find chuckle-worthy is that it’s always the guys that are made out to look like the lonely geeks. Most gaming events are indeed sausagefests, but they are not without their large percentage of women present. At a recent Anime convention, I witnessed more women geeking out than men. There were chicks dressed as Julliette Starling, Chun-Li, and an abundance of Japanese housemaids (who possibly morphed into huge intergalactic demon fighting mechs). There was even a girl dressed as the creepiest Pikachu I’ve ever seen. Yet, men seem to be the ones told how their love of geek culture will lead to a lonely grave, and how no women would want them. Another stereotype, not just broken, but fucking shattered!
None of the classic gaming stereotypes really fit in to this day and age. If they ever did, then those days are long gone. The video game industry is such a powerhouse at the moment that it couldn’t possibly just appeal to one small group of people. Instead, it’s global. Husbands, wives, kids, teens, the family dog; almost everyone plays games in one way or another. Whether it’s spending hours perfecting their move set, or just killing some time with Doodle Jump on their smartphone, there’s a little bit of gaming in almost everyone; and that’s nothing to be ashamed of! The guy wearing the suit who stands next to you the train could be a hardcore gamer, the girl you have a crush on in work could be a Pokémon master, that large group of people drinking and laughing in your local pub could be unwinding together after a tournament and you’d never know. Not a stereotypical buck tooth or toy lightsaber to be seen, just regular men and women who share the same pastime and enjoy spending time with like minded people.
Being a gamer doesn’t mean I’m a child in a man’s body. I look after my family, enjoy spending time with my friends, and work for my wages each week to ensure I can pay my rent and get by. I’m just as much a functioning member of society as the next person, and my playing video games has had no impact on that. Personally, I wonder why people must look down upon gaming communities in the way they do instead of just leaving each to their own, and getting the fuck over it.