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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Changes in technology haven’t changed video-gaming stereotypes

    Video game culture is just short of a disaster and it’s problems seem to come from gamers themselves.

    Video games are a fun platform for all styles of person, whether you’re into the more laid-back, casual genre or something a little more action oriented. They’re designed to appeal to a large group of people and they’re an extremely popular form of entertainment.

    Though I can’t help but notice that it seems no matter the changes in stories or technology and generations playing video games, the stereotypes of gamers haven’t changed. Both because there are stereotypes and because a good portion of gamers have refused to change.

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    The typical gamer stereotype is of an acne-covered, overweight male living in their parent’s basement, feasting on Doritos and Mountain Dew. On the other hand, the idea of a female gamer is tainted by the stereotype of the girl who can’t actually play games and is just in the community for attention.

    These things, combined with the toxicity that online gaming can bring, make gaming a less and less welcome platform, despite the incredible versatility and storytelling that’s starting to become a demand from AAA companies.

    Gaming as a whole has come a long way from Pong, basic point and click adventures, ’90s platformers and the hundreds of other early games. We’ve moved on to better graphics and an increase in characters representation of diverse backgrounds. So, why can’t the stereotypes die?

    The answer points, in most part, to the games being produced.

    Video games developed by large companies are usually marketed toward males by using amazing open worlds and equally as impressive weapons.

    Games marketed more toward females usually involve cooking, gardening or some kind of licensed Disney Channel franchise. My personal favorite of these female-oriented games is Super Princess Peach, where the player uses the pink princesses emotional state as a game mechanic. Make her cry to grow plant platforms, happy to make her jump and fly. You can even make her angry to see her burst into flame.

    Initially, I thought that many must have wondered who at Nintendo thought a game like this was a good idea. The plot of the Princess having to save Mario and Luigi was a great and strong idea when it was displayed in the opening cut scenes. Having the princess fight with her emotions and a sentient parasol only emphasized that the princess really had no business in saving her kingdom.

    Then I realized that no one had taken the time to make Princess Peach a strong female lead because these stereotypes have made serious female gamers about as rare as Nintendo’s gold World Championship cartridge.

    In the online gaming community, it can be very intimidating for a player using their microphone while playing online. It can be even more intimidating when they’re attacked for being a woman or if it’s discovered that they are part of or support the LGBTQ community.

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    It’s something that many have fallen victim to, whether it’s being called homophobic slurs for winning or losing in the game or being sexually harassed and treated like a prize.

    Even though gaming has come farther in terms of representation for women and minorities in gaming, these stereotypes don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon, which is disheartening.

    I don’t want to be associated with a community that has the reputation for laughing and calling others such vulgar things when the game isn’t being played the way they demand. I don’t want the shame of being associated with gender-targeted games that stereotype to the point they offend.

    For now, we can only hope that representation continues to increase in a positive way and the slow evolution of gaming and representation will rub off on the online community. Let’s hope there will be big changes in video gaming culture.

    Follow Alicia Galpin on Twitter.

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