We’re already to Thursday! Yay! Today I was talking about some of my hobbies—I’m a bit of a nerd—and we got to talking about hygienics, since quite a few people in some of the more “nerdy” communities are also not always the most hygienic. Indeed, this often goes along with the stigma that nerdy people fit a specific body type and stereotype. Personally, when I hear gamer, I think of a significantly overweight white male with a food-stained black shirt that doesn’t quite cover his belly all the way.
And I’m sure many of you have a similar image of these gamers. But is that an acceptable image for us to picture? My thought is that no, it is not. First of all, lets discuss the male orientation. I would wager that a solid 95% of people thought of a male when someone says the word “gamer.” Despite the fact that, in many gaming arenas, women make up more than a meager 5% of the population. For example, Magic: the Gathering, a card game produced by Wizards of the Coast has claimed on several occasions that roughly 30% of all its players are women. Yet when I say card game player I have no doubt that we both assume they are speaking of men.
Part of the reason for this is that, for quite a long time, being a nerd was a male-centered idea. Dungeons and Dragons, a game where people effectively pretend to be characters on a quest (typically in a Tolkien-esque world), was and is still oriented toward male characters. Many pictures in the rulebooks would show a male dwarf with a long beard clad in heavy armors of red and gold. If there was a female character, she often appeared in sexualized outfits, usually with a more passive role like sorceress or healer. Not exactly the heroine in reality, right? More like heroine in a heterosexual man’s fantasy.
So changing the rhetoric and imagery to be more inclusive of women is something that could pull more women into the nerdy realms. This extends to more forms of gaming though too, think of how few video games have female protagonists. Seriously. Then think of the girls on that list. How many are sexualized in some way? Even Samus, one of the pioneer female characters in gaming, is sexualized outside of her “powersuit.” Why can’t we just have a character that is a female dressed closer to realism. Why is there such a focus on men wielding swords, and women wielding hair brushes?
Of course, hygiene, which is what I opened this discussion with, is also a problem. Often time sedentary lifestyles are produced by people that game—whether it is card games, video games, board games, role playing games, or whatever. The list goes on. These lifestyles in turn lead to a drop in hygiene for whatever reason. Why isn’t there a conscious effort on the part of businesses to clean up the appearance of their crowds? Why isn’t their a conscious effort of players to be more clean. Even if it is a minority today that isn’t fully hygienic, even if only 10% of the people smell, that’s more than enough to be what the rest of the world focuses on. And that’s unacceptable. Because so many people are afraid to say “I play Dark Souls” outside their clique of “geeks” for the fear of being judged. That’s not fair. These people are human beings, and most of them are kind-hearted as well. Please be more active in treating each other with respect—both as a player and as an observer.