“Your a fukking pussy, u probbly couldn’t beat my retarded bro wit both of his hands tyed behind his back.”
I was 13 going on 14, rummaging around in an online gaming community then known as “The Zone.” The game of choice was Age of Empires.
“Oh yeah, you wanna know why I got such a nice tan?”
“Cuz you a fag?”
“No, because I drug the bed outside last afternoon and pork-roasted your whore mother on it.”
“Fuck u, u jar of dog piss. 1v1 in Room 19.”
“It’s on, shitheap.”
Ah, the joys of newly minted adolescent boys trading cheap insults about slutty mothers and dog piss. We did, indeed, do battle and my reputation was well earned. My Spaniards ran rough-shod over his woefully unprepared Persians. He called me a “dick-sucking cocksucker” before whisking off into another game room, obviously licking his wounds after being castrated by a gay jar of canine urine.
Any place where men come to gather and congregate—especially during the tumultuous teenage years—isn’t what anybody would call a “safe space.” We form bonds—often life-long—with other males and we battle back and forth in groups. At the global level, it can take the real, important ways of war, politics, and general power conflicts. Human history has been overwhelmingly influenced by males simply because, as I shall sketch out, that women are not interested in agency or seizing power simply to exercise agency or have real power.
This dynamic is fully on display in the video game community, as men have built, nurtured and maintained the community for years. Even when called nerds, treated like losers by women, men who loved video games still played them. It can be a brutal place from a shit-talking standpoint, either you can develop a thick skin, or you find out you aren’t cut from the right cloth to handle the banter. Competition can be fierce and reputations are difficult to make and easy to destroy. It is a mirror to real life, as people will shit-talk you, talk behind your back and often times don’t act in accordance with your wishes and best interest.
However, a curious and recent development has occurred, with women demanding access to this largely male-exclusive enclave. As usual, the typical female narrative emerges: those sexist brogamers have prevented women from engaging in gaming for so long, it’s time to change! They have swept into the video game community, set up shop and are making demands. As we see elsewhere in society, men are not men until they have a woman in his life, most likely “reforming” him so he fits her image of how men should behave.
Why did women wait until now to be gamers? And, no, I don’t mean some person who plays solitaire on his laptop or “Words With Friends” on her bejeweled iPhone. The primary reason is simply that the star— the power— of the industry has passed. No, I’m not saying video games are dead or anything of that sort, what I’m saying is that women don’t want actual power but the appearance of it. They don’t want challenges, they want simple solutions fed to them by media, “9 Ways to Feel Better Right Now,” “10 Reasons It Isn’t Your Fault You Married A Cheater,” and so on. They want empowerment, which by the nature of the word, means they want power handed to them, not taken.
The power that has been drained from video games is their ability to challenge the gamer. Video games are soft these days. I remember playing the original Super Mario for NES. There were no save games. Either you got it all right in one try, or it was start over from the beginning. Nowadays? Assassin’s Creed doesn’t even have a save function, as the game only proceeds if you don’t make a mistake. At worst, you are set back at most a few minutes, not an entire two hours. Early video games had shit for graphics, now some games have no substance and all flash. Guess when women wanted to be a part of the community?
A lack of real difficulty is the primary reason that women are now increasingly becoming gamers. The power of video games has been drained; there are no more frustrated afternoons where you try to find a way to kill a Red Dragon in Baldur’s Gate or deal with a horde of zombies in Resident Evil. Now, walk-through’s are nary a second away on Google with no worries about screwing up a game in epic fashion that results in a waste of 20 hours. Modern gamers are coddled.
It must be noted that the rise in online gaming, particularly for console games, has also been instrumental in drawing women to gaming. One of the primary reasons that Tomb Raider bombed with women—aside from the intimidating cleavage of Lara Croft—is that it involved a solitary female, isolated from society, fighting beasts and monsters. No group collaboration, no mindless affirmations —-just a woman and her guns fighting murderous creatures. Women—surprise!—need story lines and relatable characters in order to enjoy video games. Simple conflict doesn’t code for women, it has to have an emotional context to be understood. The desire for power, for wealth and fame apparently doesn’t work for women, it has to have a context. Once again, why are men so “over-represented” in positions of power?
Video games are not purely about entertainment through challenging the gamer to step up his game to meet the increasing difficulty of a game as it progresses anymore. Apparently, the most recent Mass Effect had significant homosexual themes. Insertions of homosexual characters into a story is a political act meant to challenge the “tolerance” of the gamer. By dumbing down games, it allowed not only women to find a home, but to increase video games popularity. Just like how liberals destroyed the educational system in order to “have access for all!,” video games have been reduced to a vessel for political correctness, illusions of personal accomplishment and personal fantasy – which is my final point.
Take this article about a woman who revels in her rank narcissism and celebrates a female character who is a “complete human.” Apparently, she sprouted a ladyboner over the game Left Behind. In it, a limitless girl is girly but also methodically murders “a bunch of motherfuckers.” The author seems upset that “nobody wants to be a woman.” Well, yeah, no shit Sherlock. What man wants to be a passive-aggressive, back-stabbing person who thinks that power is gifted, not taken? Men, generally, don’t want to be women because we want to take power, not have it handed to us. However, she betrays what often hurts women when it comes to gaming and why they are flocking to it now: she wants what she perceives as powerful entities affirming her life as a woman and girl. You know, the resultant behavior of women after the death of God in a society where paternalism has shifted to the government and corporations.
She is moved to tears when Left Behind ends. Why, you might ask? Because it has affirmed her as a person, a woman who is both girly and can brutally murder people. She blurs the lines between her life and the video game in a way that betrays her damning and self-defeating narcissism: it isn’t good enough for her to kill people as a girl in a video game, but that that female character has to reflect her own life experiences. This isn’t some Xena fantasy, it has to be Xena plus taking selfies with your bestie after a falling out. I bet Andrea Dworkin is turning over in her shallow grave. She reinforces the idea that she only plays video games to act out the girl and woman she wanted to be in real life. Since she was never that woman, she has turned to video games which don’t challenge her at all, but give her an interactive movie that reinforces her fantasies:
That’s part of what makes Left Behind so special: Here, Ellie is the sun, the lightbulb that the rest of the universe rotates around. And she shines.
She never got to be the “It” girl, so she turns to a video game that neither challenges her abilities, but gives her an outlet to slake her desire for historical revisionism and naked self-possession. This is another reason that women have gotten into gaming. Playing Tomb Raider does nothing for women because a solitary female killing off wolves with a shotgun isn’t aspirational nor self-reflective. Emotional context is necessary and, as the preceding female highlights, that context is often centered out of self-delusion. The woman is moved to tears because she finally has found a game that reflects her desire to act on those who upset her (the killing aspect; she doesn’t confront people in real life) and her desire for a media outlet to value her relationships with other women (the Randi Zuckerberg problem).
This is the psychological progression: going from emulating Carrie from Sex and the City in real life to demanding an interactive video game so she can pretend to be Carrie on her Xbox. For this to happen, however, the challenging nature of male-centered video games has to be neutered. The banter I cited above? It has to go, because questioning people’s personal identities is challenging for women, so men can kiss busting each other’s ball goodbye. Mainstream games that approach the difficulty of Paper Boy for SNES? Sorry, but that doesn’t affirm anybody’s identities nor advance diversity or equality. It must be pretty triggering for a gamer girl to not measure up in the fantasy world of video games. Who can she blame if she can’t beat a video game? White males?
What these female gamers are demanding is a “safe space” where their egos go unchallenged, undisturbed. The disruptive nature of male behavior—equally disruptive of male and female egos—leads to upset female gamers who simply want a space to be, where they get to act out what they either can’t or, most likely, don’t have the girl balls to do in real life. They demand games that are simply interactive movies, revolving around emotional relationships (what they call “complex” and “real” human relations) between people with, apparently, fantasies of killing people and blowing shit up… after taking selfies!
The roaring cacophony of political correctness that dominates modern dialogues betrays the utter emptiness of modern society. These female gamers are not happy women in any sense of the word. Their lives are so despondent and lacking in true substance that they turn to video games, not to pass the time or indulge in destroying the Packers as the Bears in Madden, but as an outlet for the lives they don’t live in real life. When men question whether a woman is a true gamer, men are hacking away at a part of their beating heart. They start with themselves then see men as not-female and he must be doing X, Y or Z because she is a woman as men are not women. They port out the typical female-as-a-victim-of-men rhetoric that reveals their true unhappiness—the inability to find love and contentment with a man.
They are not simply looking for happy relationships with women. These women are seeking approximations of happy, loving relations with men. If that is the cloying worship of a gang of online gamer betas, so be it. If that is the fantasy of an alpha male romancing a female lead in a video game then game on! Inextricably bound up in the issues of seeking the trappings of power and fantasy is the fantasy of men loving them for who they see themselves as, not who they really are. The fantasies of power easily gifted to them is part of the fantasy, but it isn’t complete without the concurrent bestowing of sexy men upon these fantasy women. Male worship is expected and positive attention from sexually attractive men is fetishized.
This movement exposes more than a few things about women. It exposes how often they see themselves as powerful and capable in their own minds, but fail to display that in real life, so they turn to media to smooth the ruffled feathers of their egos. They don’t like challenges of any sort, especially to their self-identity. They crave male approval and will go to any length to secure it, even if to devalue it once it becomes rote and expected. Women want to be gamers now simply because it is easy—easy to fantasize about their idealized self, easy to secure male approval and worship, and easy to rock the boat and demand the world revolve around them.
Read Next: 3 Ways Women Have Ruined Video Games