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Nerdist Play – Are ‘Gamers’ Under Attack By The Media?

Have you ever been harassed for being a gamer? Has a cop ever pulled you over and made snarky comments about your love for gaming? Have you ever been followed through a department store because you’re wearing a Pac-Man t-shirt? I can’t say that any of these has happened to me simply because I am a gamer. In fact, I don’t remember any point in my life where I was treated maliciously because of my gaming habit. Gaming is a huge part of the person I am, but would it be fair for me to consider gaming as a social class with the abundance of other slings and arrows that we are trying to cope with in today’s society?

On today’s episode of Nerdist: Play, I give my answer to that recently often posed question, and whether or not I believe gamers are being attacked (mainly by the media). But before we get into that, we’ll be checking out one of the most adorable takes on Sunder from the MechWarrior series that you’ll ever see.

No twitter question today folks, but if you want to have your voice heard on the next episode of PLAY, be sure join the conversation with yours truly over on Twitter!

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  1. Nathan says:

    I can see where you’re coming from, but we’ve been trying to let them go away by not visiting them — problem is, they still receive money for reasons of click-baiting. You’re also focusing on the wrong part of the conversation — if anything the whole “gamers as a social class” thing is totally inapplicable and more just a generalized concept due to the camaraderie felt by those banding together
    alongside a likening to social rights movements due to the massive censorship of people trying to talk about the obvious issues in the industry they love. Also, if not buying every corruptly dealt game worked — why did Ubisoft try to control how their game was perceived with both Watchdogs and Unity?
    The only reason that EA started to decline was because of YEARS of abuse of their power until they were regarded as the big joke in the games industry. They still do these things because they have the money
    and nothing gets done if we all just fall in line and pretend nothing is wrong. If anything, talking about these issues and having these conversations is important now more than ever because people need to start looking at the situation objectively rather than taking the word of MSNBC at face value.  Those against GamerGate – since this is obviously a discussion in that realm – have been given more time to talk, they’ve been given large pulpit to preach from and everyone is giving air time to their narrative, which makes it duly more frustrating that our own culture cannot even agree whether or not it is a conversation worth having. The fact that they’ve been legitimized at every turn and GG hasn’t been given anything is what upsets people the most. We want our voices to be heard and they haven’t been getting the chance. THAT is why people have been going a little overboard about their feelings on the situation. 
    Nothing but respect, however, for even agreeing and inviting a conversation. Hell, I’d say good on you for leaving the comments section open. You have my appreciation and future view!

  2. Queedle says:

    Those who identify as gamers have a responsibility to make their voices heard when they disagree this the very vocal, violent minority who threatened one female game development for what turned out to be unfounded accusations of unethical behaviors. These jerks became advocates for the entire community in the absent of more reasonable gamers calling them out for their terrible behavior. Speak up, reasonable gamers. The rest of society would not be questioning misogynistic culture in gaming if you didn’t let the misogynists be the only voice heard. Unfortunately, some of my gamer friends really do believe that women have no role in gaming, even if they are not the type of person who would threaten her directly. They just silently support gaming as a boys club. But gamers are open to social criticism like everyone else. If you don’t like how you are portrayed, change the misogyny in gamer culture, embrace that women are also gamers and stop bullying them (funny how many of the gamers who claim to be bullied by society turn to bullying who they see as not part of the club), and for goodness sakes, speak up when you see this bad behavior!

  3. Stefan says:

    I (and the gaming community as a whole) have been discriminated by the media for a long time, especiallyto discount sth. as an exaggeration the gaming community as a whole) have been discriminated by the media for a long time, especially after the shootings in Germany, when officials claimed, that the culprits have been ‘practicing’ their rampages on games like Counterstrike. After that message went round the media, people started attacking fpss and their fans. The most common misconception caused by this incidents was, that shooters make people aggressive and lose their reality and anyone who was known to be an intensive gamer was stamped as no-lifer or potential spree killer, much like this ‘potential terrorist’ policy in the united states. My girlfriend and me are hardcore gamers. That means, we’re are spending most of our free time in front of our pcs. For some years now her own family is discriminating her heavily because of that fact. So please don’t discount it as exaggeration, when discrimination against gamers is actually a thing we’re experiencing everyday. The problem is, that so many people believe blindly what the media says. If they say, games are bad and come with some empty broad-brush statistics, then the average citizen will most likely think alike. That’s my experience on this topic here in central Europe…

  4. Higuide says:

    not really besides the social stigma outside the social group. but gamers were attack by media 1999 at all time high after columbine thanks to jack thompson until finally his disbarment years later.  media attacks died down to a trickle nothing that’ll break ground to the gaming industry (possibility of being edited by fisher price ) at the time

  5. It’s gonna sound cliche, but apart from being black, he’s said everything I’ve said over the last few weeks. I want to understand. I’m not a gamer who plays AAA or fps or most mmos, so I am not privy to the level of human excrement that exists over various comms devices and that’s because I can’t be bothered to be bothered by it. Like Malik said, we have the power to ignore it. But there’s something about the opportunity presented by previous issues that are giving light to other issues that do need discussing. I think my bit about it is that as an introvert, I already expect people to be crap, on the net or in life. I’m not black and I’ve not been wrongly harassed by cops, though I’ve been harassed by cops for other reasons, though I still surf the web or play my one mmo or even walk the streets with the same level of initial distrust of everyone around me, at least until I get to know how great a person they are (because that’s been true more often than not). In the end, I think that the problem now is that there is no purely neutral place to have all parties of the  various discussions present, though I’ve seen some valiant people try. I have a few people in mind who should moderate this kind of discussion because they have no stake in any of it, but I’m sure people would disagree as we are wont to do. Until there is an agreed upon forum for the issues to be hashed out, we may be in store for either more sensationalism and divide, or it’ll drop off the radar when (insert upcoming tech fad here) comes out. Such are the problems of our time and I don’t believe we are incapable of working it out somehow.

  6. Being a gamer is no more of a social class than being a gearhead or a foodie

  7. Nell says:

    You know the only time I felt targeted as a gamer, it wasn’t for being a gamer; it was for being a woman, and it was in game. 
    I like games, I like tabletop and video games, and I have been playing since the 1970’s. I loved RPGs and video games allowed me to play, even if I couldn’t commit to a group. 
    So when MMPRPGs came out, it was a natural transition. But being behind a screen allows some peoples’ inner asshole to leak out. Now I got some ribbing from time to time, I have a thick skin, but I was out and out attacked on occasion just for being a woman. 
    The very worst was also when I saw the very best in my fellow gamers. I asked a question in general chat, and was instantly given crap for it by two people. I shut up but they continued to say terrible things; then a guild mate made a terrible mistake, he said “leave her alone”. 
    My gender revealed, the onslaught turned below the belt nasty, and other people joined the attack. The comment I remember the most was “f-ing cunt, get off your boyfriend’s account and get on your knees where you belong.” I blocked them from chat, but they found me in game and stood near enough their chat came up on screen. I logged out; 30+ years old and a bunch of immature children brought me to tears. 
    When I finally, hours later, logged in, I got hundreds of whispers asking if I was okay. My mailbox was full of notes of support and apologies from other people who had witnessed the attack. And a GM contacted me because so many people turned in the bullies on my behalf. 
    I learned many things that day, good and bad; but the most powerful lesson? I never spoke in raids or PUGs, I never said anything that would reveal I was a woman in an unfamiliar group; because I was afraid.

    • Ann Chan says:

      It is sadly true, I remember the first time I spoke with mic when playing Call of Duty. They at first was calling me a noob just cause I didn’t know the map, then once they realized I was female they started calling me fat and said I belonged in the kitchen making sandwiches instead of playing Call of Duty. I eventually only used my microphone when playing with friends and muted everyone.

      Then one day I found another girl who played Call of Duty and we got together and played it with other girls. We used our mics and eventually didn’t care what guys had to say. They called us names we’d retort to defend ourselves and kicked their butt. It felt safe in numbers and it felt like eventually I could ignore whatever they had to say because it was my right to play that game no matter what they thought of it.

      Hearing your story I wish I was there that day to help you so you didn’t have to go through that alone. Some people are so close minded they can’t accept that women can do everything things. Don’t let those people ruin your fun or ever stop you from having fun. Because it is our right as human beings to play video games. 

      • Nell says:

        Thanks, Ann. I did find other women to play with, and my guild was very supportive; I just avoided letting anything slip outside of the safety of my known allies. 
        I was one of highest ranked in my class on my server and my record should have stood for itself, but still if I was forced to talk in a raid, derogatory responses to my gender followed, or some variant on ‘I can’t believe you are a woman’ which is almost more insulting because they think it is a compliment.
        The attack above was 8 years ago, and I still felt a knot in my stomach writing it out. It was painful in a very personal way. I wasn’t called out for being a crappy player or teased for being a noob, I was attacked for simply being female. 
        There is no defense to calling a stranger a slut and a whore, for threatening sexual violence and wishing someone to be beaten by their loved ones or suffer horrible pain and disease, just because you don’t like their gender. 

    • lisa says:

      Had to have been wow. Been there done that.

  8. aaron says:

    I think the word gamer is a bit over used. I agree it isn’t a social class at all. But then again I’d be lying if I said “gamers” didn’t exist. There are some die hard video game players and they might not mind being thrown into that category. I consider myself a seasonal/retro gamer if thats even a class haha. Oh well, doesn’t matter because its just a word. Very subjective. 

  9. When did we (gamers) become a culture, and get oppressed and rights denied because of it? I have never been looked at funny or denied something because of the fact I play games, for other reasons yes, but for games no. Can somebody tell me where this came from and if I am supposed to be pissed about it. Sincerely a Gamer since 1978.

  10. gary says:

    I’m a comic book fan so I tend to put it in comic book terms.  In the 1970s, Ms. Magazine wrote an article about “Whatever Happened to Wonder Woman?”  At the time, WW was depowered in her comic book, became a fashion designer, and learned kung-fu.  Gloria Steinem wrote in her article that she disliked that WW was not the empowered icon that she remembered when she was younger.  Eventually, Wonder Woman got her powers back and even George Perez, when he revamped WW, decided to ask Steinem what could he do to make her more of a symbol to women.  If this was today, would the fan community have leaked Ms. Steinem’s information online and called her derogatory comments?  Would they be so offended that her wish for the character to be more of a feminist icon that they would have threatened her home and her family?  Would they have dismissed other female creators/editors/journalists like Cat Yronwode or Trini Robbins of that era for speaking out against the sexism in comics and the way that Ms. Steinem was treated by the comics public? 

    • gary says:

      Would they have decided not to go with Perez’s Wonder Woman run (and thus lost out on bringing in new people into comics) because the writer had decided to go outside the medium and take into account what women had to say on the topic of gaming?  It feels wrong to attack people who disagree with you without at least trying to understand how change might actually make your medium better. 

  11. Thom Curry says:

    I didn’t even know I was supposed to be upset. No gamers are not a social class, and no I don’t feel descriminated against for being a gamer. Maybe some people make snarky comments on occasion, but people are jerks and will say anything to bring a fella down, so what’s new? I think folks need to develop a thicker skin toward perceived slights and get on with business of living their lives. Otherwise, they’re going to be miserable forever. 

  12. mikedudez says:

    this is an election year so thats why the complaints and false assurances that a politician will do something if you get them elected. (OBAMA)

  13. Doddy Bigital says:

    This whole thing makes me hate both sides. I hate faux-activists who don’t realize that being morally correct is only 1% of any solution and that getting angry and self-righteous in the name of a cause is the same mistake made by early puritanical evangelicals. I also hate gamers for taking themselves so seriously—what other hobby group gets to do that?—and for making the same mistakes as the other side, stupidly buying into the idea that aggression will somehow alter anyone’s opinion.

    Everybody wants to belong to some sort of concrete system, whether activists or gamers. Where are the individuals? Where are the rebels? Fuck all those people; they all need to broaden their horizons and find some sort of life enrichment elsewhere instead of desperately trying to take possession of abstract social concepts.

  14. A Nerdnick says:

    How about we ask the questions that are really relevant such as, “have you ever been stereotyped as a fat nerd living in your mom’s basement unable to to bathe regularly, talk women or hold either a job or a relationship?”  and not “have you ever been harassed by the police for being a gamer?” (where the heck did that come from?)
    Now add to the already offensive stereotype that if you’re a gamer you must also be a semi-psychotic misogynist who makes anonymous death and rape threats in online flame wars.  That’s much closer to the line that’s being pushed by the media, perhaps because it’s a more sensational story or maybe because they’re circling the wagons in an attempt to divert attention from the ethics questions, or maybe it’s a little of both. 
    All I really know for sure is that gamers are as diverse a group as any other.  Some of us are educated, some not.  Some of us are professionals, some not, some of us are women and some of us are just nerds and admittedly, some of us hold offensive views that the vast majority do not share.  So, how come it’s only that small minority that’s getting painted in the press as the entire Gamer Gate community?

    • So, you are saying you don’t appreciate stereotypes being placed on an entire organization of people based on the actions of the few?

      Every group has some “stereotype” about them, and is used as a sharp stick to poke at said group. Whether it be a job, religion, politics, or what have you, most groups have a stereotype that exists.

      What Malik is saying is that no gamer has ever been persecuted for being a gamer. Never pulled to the side of a road because you had a PS4>Xbox One sticker and the cop has a prejudice against gamers due to cultural upbringings.

      It’s completely different. Welcome to life and people judging your life off the stereotypes that know. But that isn’t prejudice that is ignorance. 

      • The Dude says:

        Prejudice: “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”

        Sounds like prejudice to me…

        • “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.”

          Don’t just look up the first definition on google. People don’t have “unfavorable opinions.” of gamers. The problem is stereotypes. While some stereotypes may be depicted as hurtful towards a group, others may be depicted as uplifting. It depends.

          I have yet to run into anyone chastising a group of gamers because they have bad opinions of what a gamer is. Most of the time people just apply the stereotype to piss someone off in a video game. Which, we all know is wrong.

        • The dude says:

          “Every group has some ‘stereotype’ about them, and is used as a sharp stick to poke at said group.”

          “I have yet to run into anyone chastising a group of gamers because they have bad opinions of what a gamer is.”

          Nice flip flop bro, also still sounds a hell of a lot like prejudice no matter which definition you use.

  15. Orbital Striker says:

    This is kind of disingenuous. It’s not merely that we don’t like the behavior of one or two journalist sites, or that we feel that we’re being discriminated against.

    It’s that there’s a core narrative that’s been constructed by the media outlets that is way out of line. That being that gaming culture is rife with misogyny, resorting to shaming tactics and threats.

    I’m not going to deny that these things exist, however when I see friends of mine who support GamerGate getting the EXACT SAME HARASSMENT, it really makes me angry that the gaming press doesn’t cover it. It’s not even acknowledged, because it goes against the narrative of good guys vs. bad guys that the game press has constructed.

    But like you said, if I don’t like what’s being printed about gamers, I can just not read the gaming press, right? Well, if gaming critics don’t like what they see in video games, they can go do something else, right?

    Oh, you don’t like that solution, do you?

    Then let’s cut the crap and admit that the gaming press has gone too far. This has gone way beyond simple consumer outrage.

    This is about people who are tired of the press marginalizing them with a bunch of biased half-truths. This is about people who are tired of being called misogynists because they have objections to the media narrative.

    This is about people who want to be heard.

    • A Nerdnick says:

      Completely agree. 

    • CorruptedbyCoffee says:

      I’m so sick of this. The reason people are calling GGers misogynists is because of their actions. Maybe they are a only a few of you. Maybe only a few people phoned in death threats to that college. But I hear fewer GGs condemning those who used their name to issue death threats than I hear outrage that people are understandably upset about the attacks.

      • little kon-el says:

        You guys picked the wrong spokesmodel.  Those gamergaters who are misogynistic and revealing to people the personal information of female journalists/academics aren’t doing you guys any favors. 

      • The Dude says:

        How can one side be wrong because of an action that both sides have done? Shouldn’t they both be at fault. Don’t put all the blame on GG because the other side has done the exact same thing.

      • TwilightFate says:

        But there’s actually a large majority of the GamerGaters not only condemning those people,  but reporting those people to authorities and getting their accounts banned on a daily basis. Check out Harassment Patrol under the #GamerGate hashtag next time you’re on Twitter. From an outsider looking in at both sides, it honestly looks to me like there isn’t enough publicity about the positive things GamerGate supporters are doing to distance themselves from these attackers.

    • drgrrlfriend says:

      My sincere question here is this: HOW are you being discriminated against?  Are you denied service at restaurants? Are you unable to get a job?  Are you pulled over by the cops for nothing?  Are you being told at Gamestop and other retailers that no, you actually aren’t allowed to buy a game? Have you been forced to play Depression Quest when you wanted to play Halo? No.  you haven’t. When you say that you are being discriminated against, it implies that you are being left out of something or prevented from doing something because of being a gamer.  Malik’s point speaks to the fact that he’s experienced actual discrimination in his life.  Every time someone says “gamers are being discriminated against” I just want to respond with “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” For people who have faced actual discrimination (people of color and women), it’s pretty hard to take the “gamers are being discriminated against” mantra seriously. A group of gamers are raging and expressing it badly, and it’s being called out.  

  16. Luis Flosi says:

    I agree with most everything you said. However, I do believe there should be a difference between those who are more enthusiastic about games and the culture as a whole than those who just play a few games every once in a while because they have nothing better to do.
    In the past, I considered the first to be a gamer. Then, it changed to “hardcore gamer” against the “casual gamer” that is the later. But since so many people seem to think that is offensive, what SHOULD we call people who are more into gaming culture?
    I still think it’s important to have a differentiation in groups. I’m not saying one is better or worse than the other, or that one cannot go from one category to the other, but for the purposes of community and even branding (as in marketing branding, not the bad kind of branding), there should be specific names for those groups

    • I agree about the two different types of gamers.
      Casual gamers play Pokemon and eat the game at the final stage and call it good.
      Hardcore gamers (to whom I believe the tytle gamer should be applied) are those who trade to get all the pokemon, ev train, and also hunt for shinies and so on. They see the game as a continuous process and learn ever in and out including the math. That is a gamer in my opinion. Also heard them as elitists which, to be honest, is true. They are in an elite classification above others and deserve to be so.

      • Chrissy says:

        I agree with Brian… can we please get more games where the female isn’t in a bikini or any outfit that is showing of basically anything. I’m all for showing off what you got.. but some of these games are just ridiculous… at the very least can we not make them look like Barbie? Just once I’d like to see the MAIN character girl not look like a stick figure.. REAL CURVES PEOPLE! They do exist and they ARE healthy! Even guys proportions freak me out sometimes… I get you want a guy to look ripped… but some of them look like their muscles would explode if they were real… just.. stop with the proportions.. please.. and the outfits.. Games should be more about the story and the feelings you have while playing…. not the eye candy.

      • Corby says:

        No. Gamers play games. That’s it. My daughter who has played through 2 Pokemon games as well as Animal Crossing, finished Sonic Racing, and loves board games is a gamer just as much as my friends who only play board games or LEGO games or the Simpsons Tapped Out or whatever. You’re the same as my daughter – a gamer. Being an elitist doesn’t make you any better than her, it just makes you a jerk.

  17. Adam says:

    I’m so glad someone put this whole uproar into perspective. Racism and misogyny are very real in almost every aspect of society. Gamers are not under attack. If you feel you are discriminated because you game (and we are looked down upon by older generations), look at the behavior that’s being attacked. Most of the time it’s because of the content of what you’re saying or what’s being done, not the medium.

  18. I agree with everything you said, I wish you had taken it a step further to discuss that tiny but loud minority of trolls that has vociferously attacked female gamers for pointing out that maybe, just maybe some games sexualize women. If gamers are going to have a community it should be inclusive one where we can disagree with each other without threats of violence.