The problem with perceiving any woman as a “fake” in gaming culture

I am a 24 year old male gamer who has been playing video games since I was three years old. I am also a communications and media type with a degree in Political Science and Psychology. I like to take long bubble baths and watch terrible sitcoms. I do a lot of other things too, and like any label, I am not solely defined by my one role as a gamer–I am a person of many interests.

With labels, the problem usually lies with stereotypes and negative perceptions–and trust me, gamer is no exception. Many negative stereotypes exist for gamers. But one thing that doesn’t happen to me is I’m never questioned about whether I am a “gamer” or a “geek.” People accept it as fact.

Unfortunately, it would seem that not everyone has this right. It comes as no surprise to anyone that many women are questioned whenever they associate themselves with what is considered a traditional male domain–which, don’t get me started about how that’s so ingrained already since video games have only been around since about the 1970s and didn’t become really popular until the 1980s. But so it is that another domain is considered traditionally male, and unfortunately, that means women come under fire for enjoying a hobby.

I have many friends who constantly tell me stories of “how can you be a gamer? You’re a girl!” or “You’re just a fake gamer. You only play [insert game associated with girls here].”

This essay has mainly only been a description, without an answer. And while the long-term answers lies in the way we perceive and educate ourselves, children, and those around us, there is a short-term answer. Stop. Just stop doing this. Stop viewing someone as an anomaly or as a fake. Who cares to what degree someone is associated with a label? If a person wants to enjoy a hobby, and enjoy it their way, who are you to tell them differently? Who are you to judge them on the degree in which they fit your schema of a gamer or geek?

Just stop. Next time a woman says to you “I’m a gamer” don’t ask how or why. Instead, do what normal people do when they are in conversation. Continue the conversation. Here are examples of dos and don’ts:

Do:

Woman: I love video games! I play them all the time.
Person: That’s great. What games do you enjoy? I’m a huge fan of Real Time Strategy Games.
Woman: Those are cool, but I really like Nintendogs and the Harvest Moon series.
Person: Oh that’s cool you have different interests from me. People are allowed to be different.

Don’t:

Woman: I love video games! I play them all the time.
Person: Do you REALLY play them all the time? What games do you even play?
Woman: Oh… umm… sometimes I like to play Nintendogs.
Person: That figures, you’re such a girl. Real gamers play Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.

Why does this picture even exist? It may as well just say "why i hate women."

Why does this picture even exist? It may as well just say “why i hate women.”

This may be an oversimplification of conversation, but the first one is a dialogue. It’s one that contains respect and doesn’t make assumptions. The second comes off with a sense of superiority and sexism.

Negative stereotypes surround the notion of being a gamer, and when you are limiting what a gamer means, you continue to perpetuate these stereotypes. Furthermore, and more importantly, by questioning whether a person of a certain gender can be a gamer, you are contributing to sexism. You are contributing to an environment where a person may not feel comfortable, where a person may feel they can’t truly express themselves.

This essay could go on and on, but the point here is about sexism in video games. As a gamer, I want to be a part of a community that accepts all–anyone who enjoys sitting down to a shared love and art form. I don’t question whether others really are a gamer just like I wouldn’t question whether someone is really a movie fan because they have a preference for one genre, or because a person has a different gender identification.


I’m just a guy who plays video games. I am a gamer. And I hate that not everyone is afforded the opportunity for it to be that simple. However, you can help make it so that it becomes that simple. Treat people with respect and allow everyone the opportunity to enjoy a hobby.

Tl;dr stop asking girls if they are a fake gamer or nerd. They aren’t. They are a person with a hobby. Like you.

PS: This tweet below is great.

rae-johnson-bioshock-tweet

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The Internet is a great place for a verdict without a trial

The Internet is a great place for a verdict without a trial. Yes, the Internet is a great place because it gives everyone a say but it is unfortunately a bad place for the same reason. Too often I see on social media some sob story about how someone got “screwed over” or a picture of car parked incorrectly, with a caption “what an asshole.” Or a picture of a supposedly married man kissing someone with a caption saying “this man is a cheater, and the whole world should know.” However, public shaming does more harm than good and can destroy someone’s credibility, and even their lives, based on solely emotion and lack of thinking on the part of social media users.

To add some context, last year a post about a cheating man went viral on Facebook to the point it was covered by the Huffington Post. In short, the poster claimed to overhear the man talking about cheating on his wife and the poster took a picture of him and posted it online, hoping it would go viral enough that the wife would see. The problem with this post is that it’s one person telling this story, and without actual proof. Let’s say in theory the person was just a mean person, and shared the picture of some guy online for laughs to see what happens. Or the person had a grudge against the man in the picture and set out to destroy his life. With little proof or context, they set out to pull on the heart strings of the people and sure enough, it worked—the picture and message went viral around the world. Regardless of the truth of the matter, whether the man was truly guilty or the man was just a victim of an online prank, a verdict was declared by public opinion—this guilty cheater is a scumbag, they screamed.

Image

Locally in St. John’s, a new story has gone viral on Facebook about a supposed neglect of a baby by a doctor at the Janeway. Before I begin to critically analyze this one, I’d just like to say, I can only feel for the mother and father of the child. Losing a loved one, especially so soon, is tragic. I am very sorry for their loss.

The problem with this story is it’s clearly based on emotion, and people who are experiencing loss are allowed to be emotional and irrational. However, the general public should be a little more rational. Instead, this story has been shared over 7000 times, has 2000 likes, and all the comments on the actual post are in support, deriding the doctor and declaring guilt without a trail.

One commenter went so far to say it was straight out murder:

so heartbreaking how can the health system do that . should be charged for muder [sic] for sure”

The claims put forth by the poster is that their prematurely born child was neglected by the doctor who chose to not treat or resuscitate their dying son. The story describes an emotional father as he deals with a doctor who apparently refuses to treat the baby, who he believes will pass away anyway. However, it should be noted, this is all in the father’s words, not the doctor himself. As well, it is clearly written by someone who lacks medical expertise. Chances are, unless the doctor is forced to talk—and then there would have to be talk of malpractice—we won’t know the full details from the doctor. And that’s because medicine is complicated, both by the subject itself and the need for confidentiality. If the doctor came out and explained details without being warranted to, the family would likely accuse him of breach of confidentiality.

Essentially, this doctor is being accused of being a baby killer. An attack on the doctor’s character, his career, and his life. All over NL (and likely elsewhere due to the power of social media) people see the doctor’s name, and decry his guilt because of this one-sided story shared on social media. I’m not saying that the family’s story is definitely untrue, but with what I read, I can’t say for certain their story is true either. If malpractice is expected, then that’s what the law is for, and a trial. A trial with facts and two sides.

I see people share things online all the time that lack any evidence, but they tend to be sob stories or the like, and I usually post. I post citing the lack of evidence and say that sharing such a thing is more harmful than helpful, discrediting someone (or a company) without a proper investigation. Often times, I get told “oh, well I’m sharing it just in case.” I suppose I should start sharing photos of these people online with taglines like “killer” or “cheater,” you know, just in case.

But for some reason, critical thinkers are called “heartless” or “smartasses.” I cannot count how many times I’ve seen someone post saying “I’m not sure if that’s entirely true” and they get attacked for being heartless. And it’s true that many people online are pulled by emotion, no matter how rational they claim they are. Mob mentality is alive and well in the online realm, as people berate others for seemingly bad things.

Sharing such things online, without evidence, are an attack of character and can negatively affect someone’s life. Declaring a guilty verdict without hearing both sides; sentencing someone to viral shame because the share button is just so easy to click.

Next time you see a sob story online, next time you see a picture of a weirdly parked car, ask yourself, is this worth sharing? Was there another reason something may appear as it does? Is there only one side to this story? You wouldn’t convict a person on a crime based on one side. And equally so, you shouldn’t declare a verdict without a trail. End this new found public stoning—eer I mean, public shaming.

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MUN Student Union Election – Go Vote

Today (March 11) and tomorrow(March 12) until 9 PM you can vote in the MUN student union election, as long as you’re a student at Memorial. And you should vote. Why? Because you pay $42.43 a semester to the union, whether they are representing you well or not. The least you can do is pick your favourite pretty face to lead you (or read their platforms online, if you really want to get informed). You can vote online at your Memorial Self Service, which is the same place you go to register for your courses. It also means you can vote in your jammies. Also, palindrome’s are cool and 42.23 is almost a palindrome.

The truth of the matter is that few people care about student union elections, especially MUNSU. In my six years at MUN, voter turnout has never surpassed 20 per cent, and rarely hits even 10 per cent. It takes a lot to get involved with such politics—time that could be spent doing other things. So election time is the time you can at least have your say in an easy way. Here are all the platforms. Go luck and vote! Let’s see if we can get this above 10 per cent this year.

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On the Spot – Back on CHMR Airwaves

Hey Everyone! It’s been a while since I made a post on this website. I just finished updating all the pages on this website, and thought I should make a post, too. My first show ever on CHMR in 2010, On the Spot, was just a fun talk and music show that came on once a week. I unfortunately had to take a break from it due to time constraints. But I’m happy to announce it returns tomorrow. Every Monday at 3 PM, listen in at chmr.ca 

For the next four weeks the show will have a special theme to celebrate being back on air. Tomorrow will be YouTube covers of popular 90s songs. As well, I’ll get you up to date on what’s going on with the MUN student union election (#MUNSU2014). If you’re a student at MUN, remember that voting is on March 11 and 12. All you have to do is log into your Memorial Self-Service and vote. You can find a complete candidates list, along with platforms, here.

Hope you’ll tune in tomorrow!

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Newfoundland MHA removed from house—public respond with inappropriate cyber bullying

This week, a Newfoundland MHA was removed from the house of assembly after refusing to apologize for comments she did not make. Tonight (April 17), after a CBC broadcast found hypocrisy in the Progressive Conservative’s stance on social networking, many users on Twitter responded with what bordered on cyber bullying.

First, let’s address the incident that happened in the house of assembly. In short, PC Justice Minister Darin King accused NDP MHA Gerry Rogers of being a part of a Facebook group which he says endorses killing the premier. The group, called “Kathy Dunderdale must go!” is like any other facebook group—a group that anyone can be added to without accepting, and further, one that anyone can be added to. The reason I’m repeating that is because ANYONE can be added to these groups and become a member of these groups. Equally, anyone can post on these groups. The notion that one automatically supports all posts in any given group is ludicrous and has shown how out of touch the government of Newfoundland and Labrador is. The comment, which was made by one member of the group, is very much problematic and is not something we should tolerate. However, not everyone in that group can (or should) be held accountable for that one comment.

But let’s continue the story. The house recessed for three hours so that the issue could be investigated (read: old people learn to use the Internet). When the session returned, the speaker of the house asked for Rogers to apologize. Rogers refused, and as parliamentary precedent goes, she was escorted out of the house.

She states she was unaware of even being a part of the group, which is entirely plausible. I often find my Facebook failing to alert me when it should notify me—further, notifications can be different on all Facebook accounts and how you choose to set them up.

However, let’s say she was aware she was a part of the group. What exactly is the crime? I’m assuming that Rogers, an opposition NDP MHA probably supports the notion that Kathy Dunderdale must go—she is, after all, in the opposition. But that also implies being a part of a group on Facebook means you support the cause. I’m in a couple groups on Facebook I don’t support. I was added, and as someone who is curious, I want to see what people are talking about. For instance, I was added to the MUN NDP group on Facebook. I am in no way a member of the MUN NDPs—I’m not even sure what they do. But, I do know some of their beliefs, some of their upcoming events, etc. Useful for a journalist. Useful for anyone. Much like following someone on twitter, I follow pages on Facebook to learn things. It doesn’t mean I support it—but maybe that’s just me.

The notion gets even more ridiculous when you think about something else. As a peer pointed out to me today, if Premier Dunderdale had been added to that group and had she not noticed she was a part of the group, would that in turn mean that she supports her own assassination  Should she apologize for her “inadvertent” support of wanting herself to leave government?

There is a level of social networking responsibility that everyone should take. You should not have to take responsibility for things you literally did not say—and that is a scary precedent to set. However, responsibility must be claimed for posts that are done by the individuals themselves. Your tweets (or, in public cases, Facebook postings) are very much something you say. If you typed them, they represent you. Which brings me to my next point, cyber bullying. Let’s not make politics so personal—keep it clean.

After it was uncovered that some MHAs follow some weird accounts, I’ve seen some very unnecessary tweets. The most recent was #dunderporn, which came about after it was discovered that the Kathy Dunderdale Twitter account follows a porn account (which, considering Dunderdale doesn’t even follow me on twitter, a person who lives in NL, but follows a porn account, I will admit to feeling a little hurt). What followed were very inappropriate tweets under the hashtag, which personally attacked Dunderdale. I feel it was best put by Dunderdale’s grandchild said “Do they know she is not just Premier? She’s a nan too?!” (@SaraDunderdale, Twitter) We can attack the decisions made by the individuals, and even their positions, but let’s not insult them personally—it’s despicable, and a form of cyberbullying. Statements about how much “the PC government sucks” is fine—statements about her personally is uncalled for.

Some might say the past couple of days has been a waste, but I’m not quite sure it has been. I think the discussion it’s opened up is really important. As more and more discussion takes place online, it needs to be determined what is considered problematic and what’s free game. The notion that Gerry Rogers should apologize for a comment made by someone in a Facebook group is ludicrous to anyone who understands Facebook’s functionality. Equally, it should be equally obvious not to post personal insults. However, what is not so obvious is where do we draw the line? Are all re-tweets endorsements? Are you accountable for what you write on a personal account? That’s where the discussion should be—not about a threat that an MHA did not make (or endorse), and not about what porn movies you can make with Dunderdale’s name.

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We’re live at the LSPU Hall

We're live at the LSPU Hall

If you had told me two years ago that Who’s Got the Mic? would be headlining at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s, Newfoundland, I’d have called you crazy. One, because I never thought I’d have such an opportunity and two, WGTM? was created in April of 2011, so time’s a thing (see, aren’t I witty).

But seriously, I’m so excited it’s ridiculous. Myself and some of my best friends will be performing improvised theatre on stage and you should come check it out! March 24th, doors open at 7 PM, show starts at 7:30 PM at the LSPU Hall!

In the mean time, check out Who’s Got the Mic? on the radio, or download previously aired episodes via our website – http://www.whosgotthemic.com

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Video Game Carnival for all

Goodwill Gaming is having a gaming carnival in St. John’s, NL and you’re invited!

No seriously, everyone should come out to this. Our marathons are really great because we raise money for awesome causes and awesome kids. But our gaming carnivals is a great time for the community to get together and have fun. It’s not about being the best—it’s about having fun. You don’t have to be a hardcore gamer to get involved either. We have games of all sorts set up, from DDR to Mario to FPSs. And it’s only a minimum donation of 5 dollars for ten hours of fun. I encourage just about anyone to come check it out, learn more about Goodwill Gaming, and have a ton of fun!

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