I do not play games. I haven’t for decades. I used to play Trivial Pursuit™ and I still enjoy a game of chess, but both these games are high on the mental acuity charts and low on the following the rules charts. Sorry, but it’s true—to play Trivial Pursuit™, inane as some of the questions are occasionally, you actually have to know something about, you know, The World and its contents. That’s why people who read widely and pay attention to things outside themselves do well at it. Chess requires strategizing way outside the possibilities prescribed by the relatively simple set of rules and works the gray cells and synapses much more thoroughly than the repeatable pattern-following of many games.
Most games bore me, but more than that I am put off by the zero-sum essence of so many of them. For me to win, someone has to lose, and while that is also true in both chess and Trivial Pursuit™, it is also true that you can play both those games without having that as the primary focus. Chess is a problem-solving game and Trivial Pursuit™ is about its contents. That’s my take on both and I’m sticking to it.
Even so, I rarely play either anymore. The fundamental competitiveness of games puts me off. I’m not particularly competitive and I have too often come face to face with the ugly side of a player who staked his entire status on winning games. (I’ve played foosball once. Once. Some friends of mine and I happened to be in a bar, toying with trying the game out. None of us had played it before. We were approached by a guy who, in retrospect, was a regular and a true foosball fanatic, who offered to play by giving us a fourth. Well, he was on “my side” and I was terrible. My friends and I were laughing while trying to figure it out, but this guy damn near punched me out for being so bad. It was far more to him than “just a game” and I never tried it again.) For the most part, this is just me and I have no brief on others who are into playing games. They’re having a good time, life is short, go for it.
So this is about those who make a life out of games, especially those who have chosen to invest in those games everything of value of themselves. Obsession above and beyond the weekend warrior variety, because for these folks the game is life.
Even with that, there are many gamers for whom more is definitely merrier, they are inclusive, expansive, and social. I’m not talking about them.
I’m talking about those who are evidently very particular about who gets invited into the clubhouse.
We come now to the ongoing farce known as GamerGate. I say farce knowing full well that it has, for some, gone way beyond what may normally be meant by that word. This is not harmless. This is exemplary of just about everything negative in a certain kind of mindset. We’re talking elitism, hypercompetitiveness, insensitivity to others, paranoia, exclusiveness in the extreme, and the abandonment of empathy that comes from a psychic insularity bordering on the pathological.
You do not threaten people’s lives and physical safety over a fucking game!
What’s wrong with you? So there’s a girl who plays games as well if not better than you and she has some suggestions for making it better for more people. So? What’s this whole Attila the Hun thing about keeping her out and beating, raping, and maybe killing her if she doesn’t stop criticizing your fucking game? Did you miss the part that it’s a game? Didn’t your mother teach you that you don’t make threats to people just because they have a different opinion?
Or are you so terrified of women that you just can’t deal with them inside the clubhouse?
Yes, I’m using the simplest terms and models for this because I just cannot wrap my head around anyone older than nine reacting this way.
Unless, of course, we are dealing with a sociopathology that has somehow found a place within gaming from which to look out upon a world that is nothing less than an absolutely hostile place determined to take away all meaning from your life.
This is basic ingrown immaturity which in order to feel worthwhile at all seeks to define everyone else as in some way less in order for you to feel even nominally worthwhile. It appears not much more complicated than that, although I will quickly point out that simple heuristics, put in play, can often result in complex manifestations.
It would be perhaps worthwhile to see a full psychological and anthropological work-up on the mentality at work in someone who is so threatened by the presence of a female in their preferred venue of escapism that they would resort to violence to not only prevent the females from entering but to tear them down to a level of complete subservience from which they might never be able to rise again. Maybe. But I think it reasonable to say that we’ve all encountered something like this from time to time in individuals who have so little sense of who or what they are that just about anything outside their sphere of understanding demands that they ridicule, revile, and render harmless via full-bore antagonism. Rather than step outside and find out about something, better for them to shut it down, blow it up, kill it. Rather than risk the hermetic seal insulating them from any recognition that there are things which they not only lack understanding but which are perhaps more important than the arrangement of furniture in their pyschic den they play a hard and fast game of total destruction on the offending truth.
Game? Did I say game? Indeed, because that’s all this is. The harm comes from the sudden interface with reality that catches them completely unprepared. The game is all, the game is the world, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world itself was the game. Simpler, where the rules, as byzantine, myriad, and manifold as they are, could be known, memorized, mastered, and those who did not play by them could be penalized immediately, without any considerations of rights or ethics or pesky maturity. A place where every eventuality is covered by a rule.
For young males of a certain age and mentality, females seem to conform to no rules, at least none they understand. The presence of a female is a chaos-making event that is fraught with exactly the kind of uncertainty these males have fought hard to deny.
I say that knowing full well that any individual, of any sex or gender, who is not part of the game represents exactly that kind of potential to upend everything and render all these carefully-wrought rules…inapplicable. Imagine trying to roll against someone who not only may not know what the die faces mean but who doesn’t care. Imagine then the sheer terror of rolling against someone who not only knows all the rules you do but intends to change some of them to accommodate factors you joined the game in order to avoid.
The vitriol and childish, tantrum-soaked invective of the GamerGaters is precisely the reaction one should expect from someone in full reality-denial mode who doesn’t want their (artificial) paradigm fucked with. They doubtless experience similar reactions to males who threaten the model, but it’s harder to tell the males apart.
Women are obvious purely by their appearance.
Is this sounding pathetic?
Here’s something even more so. That some idiot can publicly threaten violence in a public space and get away with it because the powers that be are too afraid to piss off a different set of Gamers playing by another set of reality-denying rules by doing anything about it. I’m talking about the Anita Sarkeesian event in Utah, canceled because the university refused to enforce a no-carry policy in an open carry state, and yes, I’m comparing the fanatics backing open carry to the GamerGaters, because they’re exhibiting the same pathology of establishing the parameters of a worldview inconsistent with reality or reason and excoriating anyone who suggests that maybe there are circumstances in which a reasonable alternative to walking around armed every-damn-where might be in order.
Like in the auditorium of a university where there will be a speaker appearing who has been threatened with death if she steps up to the podium.
(Pathology? What else do you call people who see the blocking of approval of a surgeons general at a time when we may be facing a rather nasty epidemic just because he said some things you find objectionable? I suggest that the mentality is about the same.)
Others have gone public with rebuttals and denunciations of the GamerGaters, so much of what I have to say is redundant to say the least. But I’m saying it because I think more males need to get out there with this, that targeting women, because they are women, because you can’t handle dealing with them is pathetic, spineless, and repulsive. I don’t care what level psionic warrior you are within the cramped confines of your game, if you don’t know how to talk to a girl like a human being and feel so threatened by females that you would rather stay in the monastery of your game than even attempt to accommodate reality, you have nothing.
And under no circumstances is it acceptable to threaten anyone, especially if all they do is suggest your game could be improved.
I realize that GamerGate is comprised of a small group within the large and diverse gaming community, but the structure of these games has the unfortunate effect of granting permissions for obscene behavior in the minds of certain poorly functioning child-men. In this is it similar to religion, and in a world which is fully aware of the weight of ugliness layered upon women because men have decided what they are and what they may be, no one who has the least interest in something called morality or civilization can tolerate this infantile nonsense.
Admittedly, I have no profound insights here. There’s actually, in my mind, very little depth involved. These are people who have mistaken a game for reality and forgot—or never learned—how to behave in public. Assholes who talk loudly in the movie theater, ruining the experience for everyone, and who ought to be escorted out. These are the disrupters who sat in the back of the class, fouling the air for everyone else. The inept wannabes who think it’s cool to drug a girl at a party and rape her, because who the hell wants to actually talk to a girl? The real question is, why don’t they want to talk to you? Well, because.
Within their games they are warriors and rulers, wizards and magicians, with many arcane powers. Unfortunately, outside of the game they’re still ten years old and they haven’t learned how to behave.
But they aren’t ten. Physically, they’re adults, and living with such illusions makes them just a bit dangerous.
So, guys—yeah, all you males on the sidelines who know better—time to step up and start stating up front that this is wrong, that women are people first and foremost, that venting spleen over someone just having an opinion is the mark of a very poorly developed intellect, and that threatening and abusing women is no longer acceptable.
As for the GamerGaters—I’m reminded of that foosball fanatic who was ready to take me to the parking lot and beat me up because I caused him to lose a game. Pathetic. Grow up. I’ve known magic people and they didn’t get their powers from a fucking board game. They got them by living life.