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I was given the task in my Rhetorics course, to write a short statement on a topic I was familiar with. Since it is something near and dear to all of us, I thought I’d share it here as well:
I love telling people I’m a gamer. I’m in my thirties, I’m a woman and I often come across as the outspoken, informed, feminist sort. I’d argue the “informed” bit but it helps to explain why I get so many strangled or confused expressions. In that one, short statement I can often poke as many as 7 different misconceptions with a verbal stick:
1) Girls don’t play video games, let alone women, because:
2) Video games are violent media and
3) Video games are only for children, thus
4) It is embarrassing to admit that you play or have played video games at all.
5) Video games are a lower form of media and only for people who don’t read or watch TV.
6) Video games are evil, but
7) Oh she probably meant Facebook games which aren’t real games at all.
I’ve played video games for more than 14 years now and I have identified as a gamer for the past 5 or 6 years. Mostly that identification means as much as saying “I read books” or “I love the theater”. But to someone who has never picked a book up or watched a theater show for the pleasure of doing so, it can seem a strange and exclusive group of people who do these things.
But gamers are as varied as readers or movie-goers. Among my personal gamer friends (who openly acknowledge they are gamers) are one NASA engineer, a former fighter pilot (now commercial airlines pilot), a published author and an EMT. Professionally those are perhaps the cream of the crop, but the circle also includes stay-at-home mums, artists, college students and lots of other regular ‘Janes’ and Joes’ from all over the planet, with a variety of cultural, intellectual and religious backgrounds.
One of the gamers I admire the most, Ray Muzyka is an MD, but also founded (with another MD, Greg Zeschuk) one of the most cutting edge game companies in the business; BioWare. Which in turn is among the forerunners of content producers who are pushing gaming to an increasingly mature western audience.
In another decade or so, saying you play video games will be tantamount to declaring today that you do, in fact, watch TV. It is fascinating to be a part of a new(ish) fiction medium as it goes through all the same stages in society as books, theater, radio, movies and TV has before.