Queer Gamers and the Gamer Myth

Five of the six participants discussed playing video games in their leisure time; however, they mostly resisted labelling themselves as ‘gamers’ and emphasised the causal nature of their interest in games. The only participant who identified with the label of gamer was Gemma, and she works in video game design.
‘It is not that I don’t play video games…but I am not addicted to video games the way that some people are’.
-Lisa (Application developer)
‘I have not ever really been a serious gamer. I am a fake gamer boy…I play portal a bit’
– Henry (Application developer)
All the participants who played games but did not get paid to make games felt they should qualify their interest in games by saying they did not play as often or know as much about games as ‘serious gamers’. This is despite the fact that two of them work on game design in their spare time. It is possible that we are looking at a phenomena similar to the ‘Geek Myth’ described by Margolis and Fisher (2002, pp. 65-68). Under this thesis, the ‘Gamer Myth’ would mean that the majority of people who play video games feel that they are not the ‘true gamers’ but believe they are in a minority of less-committed imposters.

 

The hypothesis of a ‘Gamer Myth’ is given weight by the shaming of women perceived not to be committed enough to video games in the ‘fake gamer girl’ meme. This shaming means that players, especially women, are less likely to feel that they fit the exacting standards of the gaming community and more likely to distance themselves from it.

 

Screen-Shot-2014-10-15-at-10.23.41-AM-479x480
Fake Gamer/Geek Girl Meme

 

There are other reasons Queer people distance themselves from gaming identities. Tyler feels that people who define as gamers are likely to lack identities which are based on shared experiences of oppression:
‘Anyone I know who describes themselves as a gamer is a terrible person. If a core part of somebodies identity is being a gamer then I think that symbolises that they don’t have many experiences of oppression.’
– Tyler (Software tools developer)
 Queer people shun the identity of ‘gamer’ because they feel their level of gaming is too casual. This may be due to the Gamer Myth. They may also choose not to identify as gamers because they feel that identities based on shared oppressions are more valuable.

 

Find out about Queer themes in video games. Alternatively, learn about Queer teens online, Queer politics, or professional lives.