I cannot even wrap my brain around the kind of logic that creates the whole fake geek girl phenomena. We’re really at the point where we’re trying to measure someone’s interest in video games before they’re allowed into our inner circles now, is that it? There’s an exam before you’re granted entry into our hallowed halls? What kind of gall do you have when you think you can tell someone that they don’t like something enough to…like it?
I’d ask if gamers really were that paranoid in a rhetorical way, but I can’t even make myself type the words. Of course gamers are that fearful and delusional, although what they think they’re protecting is beyond me. Are brown shooters at risk of disappearing if the girls get to play too? Will we not get as hard hitting a sequel to Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 if there’s vaginas all over PAX East 2014? Will the entire gaming community collapse under the weight of the female attention it’s somehow garnered despite its downright hateful attitude toward women? What is supposed to happen to us now that the ladies want to play? I’m dying to know what it is I’m supposed to be afraid of.
I’ve read some of the arguments, and I really just can’t handle them. I heard one person trying to argue that women were only recently entering the gaming world (peep some of the comments), and that they hadn’t been there to support it during its inception. They came on board when it was safe for them, and that this made them cowards who deserved to be punished or something of that nature. They took an easy road when all of us nerds took it on the chin so that video games would have a loyal customer base to build itself into the industry it is today.
For starters, there were gaming women back when we were growing up. Some of them liked games as much as some nerds, and some only loved them in passing, just like the guys who played games. It may shock you to note that I wasn’t all that enamored with the NES when it first came out. I loved it in theory, but I was so terrible at the games that I really didn’t play it that much after I got it. I read a lot of Nintendo Power and How to Win At Nintendo Games, but lacked a lot of the actual skill needed to really get into games. I knew a lot of minutia because I liked knowing a lot of minutia about everything nerdy, but as far as games were concerned, I was far from supportive of the industry.
Starting off by claiming that women weren’t playing games back when you were a kid is just foolish. How do you even know? Because you didn’t know any girls in your elementary school who liked Mario too? Were you even talking to girls back then to find out? Also, since people seem to think they’re suddenly experts on the subject, what girls were you examining as your control group? How much did you know about them? I wouldn’t assume that I could even guess which member of New Kids on the Block was most popular among girls in my elementary school, since the only thing I knew about much of any of them was a name, at best. These girls could have been closet Nintendo fanatics for all I knew about them. It’s not like I heard anything most of them ever said or had any reason or chance to look in on their lives.
Even when I did get to know some women, most of them had at least some passing interest in games. It was always surprising, as at some point I’d just bought into the idea that video games were for boys. I had no basis for it since I knew a handful of women at most, and even when I looked at video game popularity as a whole among my entire group of friends, most of them had about the same level of interest in games as the girls. Half of my friends didn’t like games and were more interested in Magic: The Gathering or comic books, which lowered the percentage of guys I knew who liked games down to around the same point as the percentage of girls I knew who liked games. From what I could tell, SOME PEOPLE JUST LIKED OR DIDN’T LIKE GAMES.
Even more interesting, the people who did like games liked them in varying amounts. Of the gamers in my group I’d say half of those people only played games once in a while. They enjoyed them like a good movie or book, picking one up in passing if they liked it. It wasn’t the be-all end-all hobby that some people seem to expect of anyone who claims they like video games. Very few of us felt like that, and even then, a good comic or game of Magic was well worth shelving our controllers for the night. Taking that into consideration, there were three of us that I’d still call hardcore; and we’ve already called my own interest in games into question, haven’t we? I didn’t love my NES enough to earn my geek credibility according to some, so that leaves the two stalwarts in my group to hold the torch.
Their game collections put together wouldn’t have even come close to mine by the end of high school, though. I once had a man fall to his knees upon seeing my NES game drawer, wrapping his arms around it as if he were welcoming a lost son. I’m not really saying that those two friends were bigger game geeks than I am, am I? Not a chance, as I had more games than them. Didn’t we just establish that I wasn’t much of a gamer nerd for a while, though? Doesn’t that leave us with the startling revelation that there were no serious game geeks in my group of friends as a child?
With such variance in the gaming nerds in my group, who would be allowed to say that they were truly a video game fan in this age of fake gaming geek girls? I really don’t know what the criteria for fandom is these days, but all the people screaming ‘fake’ at women wearing gaming shirts and cosplaying at conventions sure seem to know a lot about it. I have a feeling that I wouldn’t meet the criteria if I were to figure out what it was, though, judging from the checkered past of my gaming pals and I.
I still seem to get a free pass, though, don’t I? As an example, if I were to wear one of my Transformers shirts around, no one would bat an eye. If my girlfriend wears her own Transformers shirt into work, she gets a barrage of questions asking her whether she’s read the original Marvel comic books or how much she knows about the Japanese version, and then is all but told to take the shirt off because she’s faking her interest in it. While I’d never argue that she liked it as much as I did, I still wouldn’t say that I like it enough to get a free pass. I know nothing of the Japanese episodes, don’t even actually like G1 all that much (Beast Wars was excellent), and haven’t really bothered with the franchise in years. Where’s my interrogation?
If this didn’t have anything to do with gender, the whole ‘fake geek’ thing wouldn’t be restrained to just women, would it? We’d all have to pass a quiz, wouldn’t we? All of the excuses about supporting the industry in its infancy or that some people just aren’t as invested in the thing they claim they like fall apart when you realize that it focuses purely on women. If the level of interest in any one item was the only criteria you were actually looking at, we’d all be suspect. After all, how many male Madden or Call of Duty fans skulk about our conventions, proudly displaying their favored games while unsuspecting gamers ignore them in favor of the women in the League of Legends cosplay outfits? Aren’t many of these late-comers to the game industry just as guilty of being fake nerds when they only like a game or two?
The truth of the matter is that some game lovers hate women. They try to dress it up in fancy ways, and maybe they even believe the things they say about fake geek girls diluting the industry, but you don’t have to scrutinize the behavior too closely to see what’s underneath. There’s an assumption in the very statement ‘fake geek girl’, and it’s that you have to be female in order to fake being interested in games. Not only that, but there’s also the depressing little belief that only a woman would be capable of this kind of duplicity, or would even want to. All male interest in games is pure and to be lauded, but all female interest requires scrutiny and investigation.
I would be more upset at this line of thinking if I didn’t pity the thinkers of it. Really, what kind of world view do you have to have in order to think that every woman out there is trying to trick you in some way? Worse, how do you live day to day while suspecting that the women who are most likely to share an interest with you are only doing so to hurt you in some way? That’s what it boils down to, doesn’t it? There’s a belief in the statement ‘fake geek girl’ that these women are out to hurt you – that they’re only pretending to like the games you like in order to bring you pain. It’s a rough life to live, and it’s one I’ve seen far too much from some of the nerds I grew up with.
One type of guy in particular stands out: one who never had any luck with women. Not that many of us did, and we all took turns being angry at the world because of it. It’s weird seeing people you know getting into relationships with women when you can’t get a date. The process of asking a woman out, something that was already terrifying for at least my teenage self, gets worse and worse with every time you get shot down. On top of that, you begin to misinterpret every smile or kind word as you try to figure out how it all works. Pretty girl smiles at you and says something nice? She must like you. When you find out she’s just being friendly and has no interest in dating you; you file that information away.
These behaviors start taking on different meanings to the kind of guy who’s used to getting shot down. I saw it in my friend over the years. If a woman was nice to him or smiled, she became a ‘tease’ or ‘whore.’ This is because the kind gestures were misinterpreted as signs of the woman liking him, making him feel like he was being deliberately tricked when he found out he was wrong. That feeling started to infuse any sign of friendship coming from a woman, and it wasn’t long before those signs become grounds for anger. When you feel tricked because a woman is nice to you, it’s not long before you interpret every time a woman is nice as some form of trickery in and of itself.
It’s a pretty sad state to end up in, but I imagine many of the cries of ‘fake gamer girl’ come from people just like this.
So, what happens after you begin assuming that every woman you run into is out to trick you in some way? You go on the offensive. You start off acting extremely hostile toward women, and I saw aspects of this in my friend over the years. His actions toward them skewed into trickery as well. Women became a group that you had to fool into doing things. He tried to trick them into believing things, worked on lowering their self-esteem in order to get dates. They became projects instead of human beings. He became the kind of person who buys into pickup artist tricks, and sincerely believed in ‘fake gamer girls.’ His every interaction with women was steeped in hostility. I know a lot of this because I came dangerously close to going down that road.
This is where I feel that the ‘fake gamer girl’ phenomenon comes from. There is an intense hatred of women born of an entire group of gamers who grew up antisocial; who had trouble communicating with a woman and even more trouble getting a date with one. I too started to resent every time a woman was nice to me because I knew I was going to ask for a date and fail later. I started to get angry with women who were nice to me because I felt it was just playing with my already fragile heart. I started questioning behaviors and motives, right up until I figured something out. It’s something I should have already known, but sometimes you just get so wrapped up in your own darkness that it defines you.
Women are human beings.
Just like my own attractions and interactions changed with each person, just like my own interest in games would shift and change, so did those of the women I liked. There were people I wasn’t attracted to, there were people I didn’t even want to talk to, but I had forgotten that. I’d forgotten what it was like to just wave and smile at someone in passing, wanting nothing more than to acknowledge someone with a kind gesture. I’d forgotten that my feelings toward some people were just different from others, and while that could change a bit, for many people there would never be an appreciable difference. I could rhyme off several people I wouldn’t have dated at that time. Why was it so strange that someone wouldn’t want to date me?
We all have our own interests and desires, and each of them guide us in different directions. We have varying degrees of obsessions with hobbies and tastes in our favored genders. We’re all just out there doing our own thing; sometimes that jives with someone else, sometimes it doesn’t. As human beings, we like to try to make sense of it all – to assign logic to matters of the heart. It’s not that you haven’t found a woman who likes you for who you are, but rather that women as a whole don’t like you. It’s a terrible thing to think of yourself, but again, it’s not long before that thinking leads to hostility and my pity dries up.
So, this is for all of you who bristle at the idea of someone trying to “defend” fake geek girls. I’m not defending anyone. What I am trying to do is point out something about the kind of person who would call a woman a fake geek; about a person who would question a woman who dares claim she’s interested in something you like. There are women out there who like what you like; some more and some less than you, and they can be an absolute joy to be around. They bring so much more life and fun to fandom than you could ever imagine, and it’s in being inclusive to these people that we see the shows and games we love grow.
Screw games, shows, and comics, though. What I am really interested in is having you take an honest look at yourself. Ask yourself why you’re accusing women who enjoy the things you like of not enjoying them enough. Ask yourself why you meet a potential shared interest with anger and scorn. Ask yourself if this line of thinking has made you happier, or if it’s just helped you further alienate yourself. What do you have to gain from trying to keep women from enjoying the things you’re interested in?
Why are you mad at so many women for being just like you are?