Not since pastors thought certain genres of music channeled Satan has an entertainment medium been as misunderstood as gaming. Relatively speaking, gaming is still in its infancy, but the misconceptions and misinformation surrounding it are numerous.
To both address and shine a light on these false notions, and gauge the perception of gaming across the non-gaming public, I’ve decided to start a new series, Interview with a Non-gamer. The first is a recycled piece from my days at the newspaper, but I will follow up with new entries that probe the psyche of America…or at the very least allow me to expose the ignorant.
This interview is interesting because of the exploration of sexuality in games, and how that’s perceived by the general public. Or at least by her.
Shaun: Okay, let’s start with this. You don’t game. That’s why I’m interviewing you for a piece called “Interview With a Non-Gamer.” What exactly is it about games that is unappealing to you? What has…
Anonymous Girlfriend: Do we really have to do this? Why do you want to interview me? I don’t know anything about videogames. You should go interview someone else.
S: Okay, first of all, interviews don’t work when you ask me the questions, okay? Secondly, you not knowing anything is the point. I’m trying to get your perspective on things. So, again, what do about videogames do you not…
A: All the girls that have huge (expletive). It’s ridiculous.
A: Girls don’t really look like that. Not in real life. These girls are like Barbie Dolls.
S: Well, okay, fine. Sometimes it’s a little overdone. But that’s just media in general for you, not a gaming thing. Is it not the same in movies, or television? Actresses and actors that do not resemble the average human figure are hired to sell sex.
A: I understand, but not every female is a caricature of a woman’s body designed to satisfy some animated sexual fantasy. Often, women in film and television are in really good shape, sure, but there aren’t very many actresses that have the same assets like all girls the in videogames. If Pamela Anderson was in every movie, I wouldn’t like movies either.
S: I think you have a gross misunderstanding of what kind of girls are in games. Yes, some games, like the Soul Calibur series or Dead or Alive, have a full roster of impossibly endowed women. But there are plenty of counter examples. Elika from Prince of Persia is very normal looking, and Alyx from Half-Life 2 is has a very typical body structure.
A: What about that girl in the game with the ninja. The one that wears dominatrix clothes. Is she what you consider normal?
S: No, Rachel (Ninja Gaiden) is one of the bad examples. But that developer is known for stupid stuff like that. He once put breast physics in one of his games, but on each individual breast.
A: That’s funny.
S: No, it’s disturbing. Anyway, how did we get on this topic?
A: And in the fighting games, they wear bikinis. If I was fighting in a tournament, like, a kung-fu tournament, I would wear armor or something, not lingerie.
S: Fine. Yes, females are often misrepresented, and it’s a problem that is slowly but surely getting better. But that can’t be the only reason you don’t like gaming. You said once that you stopped playing games after Yoshi’s Island…
A: Oh my God, I love Yoshi’s Island!
S: So what made you stop?
A: And Mario. I love Yoshi’s Island and Mario. But I think games got too hard. They’re too complex these days. It’s not fun anymore because the games are too hard to learn.
S: Well, I can understand that, but the scope of the games has changed as well. Back then, characters only ever moved from side to side on a 2D plane, so the input could be relatively simple. Now that characters occupy a three-dimensional space, a D-Pad with two buttons just could not work really work.
S: You could not control Halo with just a D-Pad and two buttons.
A: Yeah, Halo’s hard. I don’t like the shooting ones. The two joysticks are too hard. I always look at my feet, and then people shoot me.
S: So, what, you just want the industry to stop making advances in technology?
A: No, but I want to still be able to enjoy the types of games that I like. Why does everything have to be Halo?
S: I will agree that there are way too many First-Person Shooters, but that’s not all that’s out there. The Wii is making control inputs more simple by utilizing motion with the Wii Remote, and Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation network offer old school arcade games for sale.
A:I like those. But those aren’t the ones that everyone plays anymore. Everyone wants to play the new stuff. They want the games that look like movies. I can’t play with them. It’s too hard to learn. Besides, if I wanted to play a movie, I would just watch a movie rather than spending time learning the new stuff.
S: That’s a really interesting point. So basically, you believe that by emulating movies, gaming is becoming less unique as its own medium?
A: I guess. More than that, I think videogames are for, like, children.
S: What? Why?
A: I don’t know, they just are. It’s in the name. VideoGAMES. Adults don’t spend all their time playing games. Children do.
S: That’s just a misconception. The highest percentage of people that play games belongs to adults.
A: In high school, girls didn’t like the guys that played videogames.
S: But girls at our high school were whores. Everyone at our high school was whores. What is that supposed to mean?
A: I think it means something that they would sleep with anybody, and yet they didn’t like gamers.
S: Because games are for children, or because games are a technology-niche thing? Twenty years ago, comic book movies were a niche thing. Now, films like The Dark Knight and Spiderman 3 are universally accepted, and a huge percentage of those sold tickets are female viewers. Furthermore, about 50 percent of the gaming population is female. I’m just saying that perceptions change, and games are already making an impact on the mass market thanks to more universal appeal.
S: What say you?
A: Oh, you’re done?
S: Of course I’m done, I stopped talking.
A: Sorry, I thought you were giving a dissertation. I wasn’t sure. Spiderman 3 sucked.
S: Yes, it did, but that’s not the point. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the fact that games do not possess the same societal acceptability as film, television, and books.
A: Definitely not. Not even close.
S: Everyone’s a critic. That’s okay though, fair enough. Last question then: fix it.
A: That’s not a question.
S: No, I…okay, technically, whatever, I’m saying what would you do to fix it. According to a non-gamer, how do you help gaming make the leap to mass-market appeal.
A: Well, make games available that are easy to learn and fun. I love Cake Maker because it’s simple and addicting. You make cake. Then you serve the cake. But there’s nothing like that on the PlayStation 3. I want Cake Maker with the same production values as the games with bigger budgets, like all the Halo’s. As long as it’s easy and fun, I will like it. Games will never get anywhere if they just try to make the hardcore gamers like you happy. Mass appeal is about making games fun for everyone, not just the fans they already have.
S: So the answer to saving the industry is Cake Maker in 3-D.
A: That’s what you took from that?
S: No, I’m sorry, you actually gave a very good answer. Very insightful. I’m impressed.
A: Great. I’m going to watch Glee now.
10 thoughts on “Interview With A Non-Gamer: Ex-Girlfriend Edition”
I like the idea behind this series. There seems to be a lot of misinformation and misconceptions going on when you aren’t a gamer. I wasn’t always a gamer myself, but I definitely didn’t think of gamers in the same way your ex-girlfriend did. It also helps that a lot of my friends are gamers, so I was never ignorant of what games or being a gamer was really like.
What isn’t true now is the idea of girls not liking video games or not liking guys who play video games. Studies have been done where it has been shown that we have more female gamers than ever before. The gripe we need to overcome now is having better female characters in games.
That was easily the part of the interview that annoyed me the most, this idea that because someone plays games (or does any hobby, really) it intrinsically makes them completely undesirable. Thanks for reading! 🙂
I can’t imagine anyone paying for Cake Maker on PS3 the same they’d pay for any of the other games on there. I’m not a massive gamer, but I love games when I do get the chance to play them. And yeah, there are misconceptions about people who play games but there are always those who can challenge those. One of the biggest appeals of my ex was that he played games. I bonded with a very good friend of mine in high school over Final Fantasy X-2.
Things are changing. What was undesirable is now desirable. Of course, I can’t talk from a guy’s perspective, but I get the impression that more girls now actually like gaming guys. Just look at those gamer girls pics online – typically hot girls appealing to gamers.
Thank you for this! I found it extremely funny. As a female gamer myself, I get comments and looks from girls all the time for playing video games. Most just don’t seem to get gaming or just want to play Fashion Story on facebook o_o. While I agree, most female characters are over the top sexual, there are MANY great games that have great females who are bad ass (Rochelle from Left 4 Dead 2 is the first that comes to mind) and some where the sexuality is just right (Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw). Sadly, most girls will never know some of these beloved characters and more (Clementine from Walking Dead) because they just won’t give them a chance. 😦
Thanks for reading ! 🙂 I mean, I don’t want to come off as dismissive – sexism in gaming, and in a lot of mediums, is still a big deal that needs attention. But to say gaming is completely and utterly sexist completely ignores the games and characters that have taken strides to eradicate this, and in a good way. It’s not enough to have a female character, but then just make her act like a man. That’s not an accurate portrayal, either, which is something that the new Tomb Raider did very well. She is a complex character who undergoes an emotional journey while still kicking a ton of ass, not a caricature who spouts one liners and is bullet proof, both physically and emotionally. We’re on the right track, and it’s disappointing when it fails to get the acknowledgement it deserves.
I understand that most girls aren’t as excited about the new Borderlands2 DLC as I am. I haven’t played WoW for a few years now, but I will hop on Guild Wars occasionally. Still, free time is precious and often other activities like reading or blogging are prioritized before gaming.
97% of girls under 18 play videogames each week acoording to IbisWorld, but that number drops rapidly as you move up the age groups and even fewer women will actually admit it. I am sadly no longer celebrating my first 29th birthday and often won’t admit that I am a gamer. In a business setting where I want to appear professional… not a chance, even if the guys are talking about the latest FPS or sport game release.
But I don’t have as much time as I used to have for gaming. I find myself trending towards games that are simpler to play and don’t take 120+ hours to finish. While I have nostalgia warm fuzzies for old-school RPGs, the storylines are so convoluted that if I put a game down for a few weeks, I don’t remember what was happening when I pick it back up.
More gateway games that are simple and engaging but without a childish vibe would be appreciated. There are still people in the world who enjoy couch multiplayer, so including that feature would be super cool. Also, fewer overdrawn, overanimated boobs.
Agreed. Continue to make both casual and epic games that reflect the consumer and balance what the market needs. My time fluctuates, and I have need for both depending on my situation.
And seriously on the boobs. I don’t need bouncing breasts in my fighting games (or bouncing male genitals, which is what someone else suggested as an equality solution), and I don’t need spectacle sex in every episode of Game of Thrones.
Great article! Makes me want to finish a post a started featuring some of my favorite female game characters! Anyway… I do partially agree with the interviewee here about a couple of things. Obviously sexism, which has been discussed, but also that sometimes I feel like games are so damn complicated nowadays. Now that I have way less time to do anything with undivided attention, I hate only having time to play a game on a weekend and spending my entire hour of playtime trying to remember what button does what lol. Yay for Indie and retro games. I think thats a big reason why I liked Retro City Rampage so much.
I’ll weigh in on this idea that girls don’t like guys who play video games. There was a time in my life where I would totally agree with that. But now that I’m married to a gamer who happens to be a gentleman, I realized that it’s not that girls don’t like gamers, it’s that girls don’t like getting ignored because their boyfriend can’t handle putting the game on pause for a second. No one likes to be ignored and the “I can’t stop playing til I get to a point where I can save the game” isn’t helping anyone. So I guess my point is gamers are fine, douche bags are not.
Douche bags are never, ever ok. Not even if they’re gamers.