Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Millennial Gamer...My Age Is Showing

By now many of you know about the flurry of content, arguments, debates, and shaming of women in video games (both digitally and in the real world). I've discussed it enough times on this blog that you all should be fully aware of my interest in the subjects. And we are at a point where most of the content has already been said. We know there's a problem. It's not just women that are underrepresented and stereotyped as background characters, but any and all non-white, non-straight men. We are at the point where action is needed - developers stepping up and listening to the majority and seeing where games can go in the future.

Today's net piece on the topic is pretty much what you expect. Time posted an online article from Northwestern University student Lauren Janik. She's a life-long gamer and has felt the sting of the "boys only club" motto since middle school. She didn't jump into online gaming because she knew early on from internet forums that she was going to be singled out as a female, and targeted. Most of her friends were boys, but that didn't limit the teasing or taunting for being a girl in gaming. And as she got older, saw the harassment of high profile gamers such as Anita Sarkeesian, she could relate to their experiences.

What caught my attention was the very end of the Janik's article and I wish she would have expanded upon it from the beginning to give a new perspective on the discussion:

"I’ve played video games for more than 16 years. Does that make me a feminist insurgent? No. It makes me a millennial."

As much as I dislike to admit it, I'm considered a "Millennial." It's a word I don't associate myself with because it has a heavily negative connotation regarding the work-ethic and personality of my age group. We're considered lazy, narcissists, attention-mongers, and those needing constant praise for every little thing that we do. And at the same time, we're the tech gurus. Your businesses wouldn't be running at optimal efficiency if you didn't have a few of us in the back room working on your servers. We are a generation that is loathed for our ethics but needed for the world to keep spinning. There's even a few quizzes on how much of  a Millennial you are. Apparently I'm 83% Millennial according to Pew Research. Because of this general gloss for my generation I typically don't associate myself with the group - most of us are pretty well rounded people who care about civil service and looking for ways to make the world a better place.

But being a Millennial I am a part of that gaming crowd. My earliest of childhood memories was holding the Atari 2600 joystick. Gaming was never a gender, race, nor religious issue to me. It was something we all did in our free time. There were more boys then girls that played but it didn't bother me until we started to be separated by our genders into different groups at school and work.

For Millennials, gaming is a normal activity. It's a stress release. It's productive. It's a new area of art and theory. We know our games can be better because we grew up with them. We've seen their rise, their fall, and rise again. They have the potential to be beacons of [insert your concept here]. Entertainment, scholastic, diversity, whatever you want gaming to represent. We know they can be better - we just need to make it happen.


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