Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Gaymer" culture

I want to preface this blog posting with the following:

I do not want this blog to be viewed as some sort of political tool.  Realizing this is my first blog posting, it is also going to touch on something that is by-and-large political in nature and I respect this fact.  I am not advocating one way or another concerning gay marriage, equality, or the like.  I fully support and endorse equality in all things, regardless of ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, or what-have-you.  I'm an EEO kinda' guy anyways, and I treat everyone alike: just like shit (thank you, Commander Richard Marcinko!).  My opinions will be stated on some topics, but please do not read into them as anything more than a stated opinion.

In all seriousness, this is just me rambling about something I have started to see crop up lately in terms of people expecting certain things, at the same time being ready to denigrate other players who ask a question or don't fall in-line with the thought process.

Maybe it’s because I’m a heterosexual, and that has limited my ability to actually view things in a different light.  I consider myself an actually “enlightened” person, and while many times on the political scale I may be more conservative than liberal, I do support gay marriage, among other things.  But it seems like there’s a continuing presence in that there is a need to force the LGBT “agenda” on everyone, to the point that it becomes almost more annoying and “preachy” than the ultra-conservative, ignorant fuckers we see running around, spouting the anti-gay-marriage crap.  I have gay friends: two gay, three “bisexual”, all female: two I can confirm are legitimate and have been since high school; the third I am under no illusions about that she does it for attention, as she has done so since high school, once again.  That doesn't mean I care any less about them as I write this piece, and I even asked for their opinions on this subject, since I do like the concept of being inclusive.

Now, I don’t want this to be a political piece.  This is more to do with the rationale behind the need to draw attention to someone’s sexual orientation, especially in a video game.  I don’t know you, I will probably never meet you.  The same is true for the hundred—if not thousands—of people that are similar in nature to my outlook.  We don’t know you, and really all we are ever going to know about you nine-times-out-of-ten is if you’re a good person or not.  Sure, on a roleplaying server more often than not the lesbian characters show up, because it’s men playing female ‘toons and wanting to be able to ERP, but having a straight female ‘toon makes them feel gay.  Fine, whatever.  I’m not going to judge you, and the majority of people aren’t going to judge you, either, unless you pass yourself off as a lesbian in real life, or the person is just trolling roleplayers to begin with.  That’s just how it is.

Back to the topic-at-hand: is it necessary to point out that you are part of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender—just in case people needed that to be expounded upon) community?  In my honest opinion, it shouldn't need to be, and I’ll explain my reasoning in a bit.  Now, this all stems from a person on my server in Rift that has been advertising their guild as a “gaymer” guild, and is LGBT-friendly.  I have no problems with the community, but the way it’s presented in many contexts is my issue.  More often than not I have witnessed these people who draw attention to this fact flaunt it, and not just a little bit of “I’m gay”, because it is seriously no big fucking deal.  These people ram it in your face, doing the equivalent of “I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it”, and then demand you accept them for who they are.

Seriously, wouldn’t you be a bit pissed if someone was in your face, screaming about their sexual orientation or what-have-you, and then demand you accept them for who they are?  At the very least, wouldn’t their constant need for validation and the like annoy the hell out of you?  I’m a patient man, I’m not very tolerant in that I don’t tolerate bullshit from people.  When you push my buttons enough, you’ll know it, and it will be quite blunt.  Tact and diplomacy only seem to work to a point, and with many of these people it seems they want to force you to respond so they can start playing the victim card.  Now given, that is just speculation and I’ll admit freely to that; but it certainly seems the common act is just that tactic.

I’m not saying that we should run all the gays off the server.  As one person jokingly put it, “If God wanted gays to play video games, he’d have put it in the Bible!”  Facetious as it is, there are people who act like that out there, and we generally ignore those people, don’t we?  In the interest of keeping what little peace we have in-game and not causing unnecessary drama, we keep such information out of the game.

We know there’s a subset of female gamers out there who use the fact they have tits in real life to get gear and the like.  There’s stories out there of women in EvE Online and World of Warcraft who have abused the fact they are in a minority to get what they want: they play politics, turn people against one another and destroy alliances or guilds.  Or they use their “feminine charms” to acquire gear in raids they either haven’t worked for, or it’s not their turn to get.  They make a mockery of loot systems and generally give female gamers a bad name; and of course, many players rightly ridicule them, because it makes those players  who are insecure feel even worse, and gives the wider female gaming community more of a bad reputation.  A great case-in-point: recently the alliance (in EvE Online) Easily Excited fell apart, because a female officer tried to use her gender to play politics.  The alliance as a whole fell apart because the drama got so bad that it caused a complete breakdown in communication and trust in the senior leadership.

That’s not to say there aren’t issues facing female gamers: recently, Finland banned females from competing in the Hearthstone tournament because they wanted to promote e-sports as a valid sports form.  And while I believe that to be a terrible idea—it does smack of sexism—I also can’t stop it.  I can draw attention to this fact, but I can’t stop it from happening, simple as that.  As a journalist—even an internet journalist—I can and do ask questions, and I simply want to make people aware of these stories as they pop up.  I am not supporting the decision, I am not supporting the thought process.  With that being said, I am not a politically correct person in the slightest, and I am very much a misogynist when it comes to joking.  One of my favorite jokes is,

“If a man and a woman get into a car accident, who’s at fault?  The man, because he shouldn’t be driving in the kitchen to begin with!”

Yeah, it’s fucking misogynistic as hell, and it’ll piss off the feminazis no problem.  But I’m not pandering to them, just like I don’t pander or cater to any other group.  I prefer to keep shit like I see it, and be honest with my opinions.  It won’t always be something you agree with.  It won’t always be worded in the best way, but it’s an opinion, and as much as I try to validate it and back it up with fact, it is simply my thoughts, nothing more.

Enough on that, though.

As I said, this came up because we have a guild master on my server (Faeblight) advertising his guild as “LGBT friendly”.  And so I decided I’d ask a simple question: why is it that something that is out-of-game is necessary to be noted in-game for your guild?

I understand almost every guild tries to fill a niche: PvP and raiding guilds, leveling guilds, roleplaying guilds, etc.  But it seems like there’s a growing group out there that is specifically looking to capitalize on an out-of-game group of people for the guild.  In World of Warcrat on the Sentinels server, we had the guild <Sisters of Passion>, which was supposed to be an all-female guild.  In truth, while it had some females it also had many males playing female ‘toons, simply there to roleplay lesbian sex scenes.  We all knew it, even though they denied it.  No one gave two shits about it being a female guild, it was the fact that they kept telling everyone that they were an all-female guild when it wasn’t true caused a lot of friction, especially when they began raiding.  We’d hear about how the “girls” were beating everyone—despite the fact <Acies> was always ahead of them in progression—and how we should be ashamed, counting on political correctness and fears of being referred to as a misogynist from calling out the bullshit.  And they were wrong.  I’ll be honest, I don’t know what happened to them after I left the server, but I know they weren’t there a year later when I showed up to say hi to my old server.

That’s the thing, though: when you push something such as an “all-female guild” or the like, and you cause drama via this fact, you are also a person who is probably going to play the victim card when you find yourself in a hole you’ve dug.

That sort of happened here.  I asked this question and the GM ignored me.  Fine, that’s okay.  But then a player named Arawulf jumped in.  He began with the usual tactic of being defensive, demanding to know why it should matter.  Even as I explained that it was a question intended to elicit information for my own ability to understand the mindset, he continued to deride it as “hostile” and “homophobic”.

Let me get this straight: asking a question to understand someone’s mentality is now homophobic?  This is no different than when people asked why blacks were voting for Barack Obama and some replied with, “Because he’s black.”  When people wanted a further explanation as to why that mattered, those same people screamed racism in order to shut the conversation down.  It isn’t a chance for them to rationally explain themselves.  Many people who act like this are not used ot being asked to elaborate, and so they panic and scream “racism”, “bigotry”, or the like simply to shut down the conversation.

It normally works, too, because those labels have power behind them in today’s culture.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work on me.  I’m not one to simply lay over and say, “Well I don’t want to be seen as a racist!”.  I pride myself on journalistic integrity, even if it’s not exactly working for The New York Times.  I do hold myself to a standard and etiquette, and as such I continue to ask for facts.  I want to know what makes you think something like that when all I asked was a simple question.  Of course, he continued on the same line of attack until two others chipped in, one claiming to be gay and wanting an answer to the question.  At this point, Arawulf logged for whatever reason.  Fine , don’t answer the question.  He followed the same style as those before him who try to shut down a debate or conversation by screaming “bigot”.

There are two types of people who will shit on you for being anything but heterosexual: the people who hide behind the anonymity of the internet to be little shits, and the people who legitimately don’t like homosexuals for whatever reason.  When they pop up, the players seem to rally to defend them when it’s deserved.  Two guilds were run off servers in World of Warcraft for being horribly anti-homosexual, to the point they almost caused a gay player in their guild to commit suicide.  Gamers tend to be protective of other gamers despite the bullshit that you hear about on the news.  EvE Online is a place of terrible people, but the gamers come together to protect people who are unjustly accused of being whatever.  The same is true in every other MMO.  We tend to drive those ignorant fucks off servers/shards, and we defend people who deserve it.  But the truth is, the people most affected are the ones who are incredibly sensitive to begin with.  The people who feel the need to proclaim their sexual orientation, or their gender in a game where it shouldn’t fucking matter are the same ones that cry when an off-color joke is made.  They don’t laugh along with everyone else, they don’t try to turn the tables and tell their own joke.  They simply cry, scream <insert racism/bigotry/homophobia/Islamophobia here>, and then act like they are completely in the right.  And the sad thing is that these people tend to blow things far out of proportion and exaggerate what actually happened in order to either make the story more interesting, or to garner more sympathy.  Many times these people cause the drama that offended them, and they play the victim card, expecting people will feel bad and support them because they’re a “minority”.  Then, when people get all the facts and don’t support them, there will inevitably be a locked thread on the forums about how the game fosters a homophobic community, or racism runs rampant, or what-have-you.

There are legitimate concerns for those who aren’t straight males in video games.  But when you identify yourself and cause drama over it, it’s no one else’s fault but your own.  If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  Or better yet, don’t bring your personal life into video games to begin with.  It only causes more problems for you, and many times for others around you.  You can’t fault people for wanting to remove the drama, and many times the drama will be removed, and you won’t like the collective agreement on the source of that drama.

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