The USS Quad Damage

Revolutions and gaming

I had some thoughts on the nature of revolutions

Whatever most normal women might want to say about male gamers, they cannot deny that there are many women who are in it for the attention.

Innovation makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old regime, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. — Niccolo Machiavelli

I’m guessing that subtleties in translation could allow you to substitute “Revolution” in place of “Innovation”, and I suspect it is as true. We can see the effects on the revolutionaries, too. As every revolution takes place, the reluctant many start to fill out the ranks after the sacrifices made by the bold few who take a stand. When the risk is lower, or perhaps when the risk of being in opposition to the revolution is greater, perhaps it is prudence alone which pushes the masses to join ranks with the rebellion.

At some stage, the revolutionaries must feel a distaste for the way the revolution is changing — getting scrubs, with new, perhaps watered down ideas; perhaps what is perceived to be (or indeed, is) a “hijacking” of the revolution proper. In any case, control goes from the initial revolutionaries to this new guard. And yet, in order to be successful, every revolution must change into a regime.

This isn’t just about national revolutions, like Egypt or Libya. It can happen in cultural revolutions too. We can look at the new-found interest and legitimacy in the Australian Greens today — the tension between a new age of the greens rooted in reason and the old greens in ideology is palpable. You can see the sheer force of will of the revolutionaries in movements related to impressionism, with starving artists and paintings named “The Talisman”. It seems there is a sense of hopelessness to the beginnings of every revolution — fight till the last man, hold out for as long as we can, and I suspect there is a “knee” — a turning point — at which revolutionaries realise that the revolution is not going to result in their demise, but might actually succeed, albeit in a completely different form than they imagine or have any control over.

I think at this point the revolutionaries get pissy at their own kind. You can see this in musical revolutions like Emo music or the Grunge — the animosity they hold to being popular. The spear they spent so long fashioning to drive into the heart of the establishment is being eroded by the movement itself. Reason takes over, diluting whatever it meant to be a revolutionary. New heroes are hailed, the old are forgotten. The hate, the sheer anger of revolution, the sting, goes away. And yet, the tip of the spear remains, embeds itself into the new world consciousness, and becomes the new regime, waiting for another revolution. This is the only way a revolution can succeed, for it either does this, or it kills the establishment entirely.

Reading all the things related to women in gaming recently, I can’t help but think of the misogynistic men in the same regard as the hardcore revolutionaries.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t excuse the behaviour, but it does go some way to explaining it. This isn’t just gamer culture, but nerd culture in general. The internet, video games, being socially awkward, any of it being socially acceptable was hard fought. In 1990, socially awkward teens weren’t the heroes of movies. In 1990, it was not cool to play video games and wear nerd glasses and know stuff about computers or the internet. In 1990, you would get beaten up for being these things. In 2012, the now 30-odd year old nerds wish nerd-glasses-wearing hipsters would get beaten up.

I can see it from that perspective: Aisha Tyler may have been a gamer since before little Timmy was born, but she still did nothing for little Timmy when he got beat up for being a nerd. No one did. And that’s the point — the nerd revolution has been hard fought, and the girls have been missing. Don’t get me wrong, they exist, but most of them would “nod in agreement with the men” and move along. In nerd-land, you’ll have two types of women: the kind who are proper nerds — the Brenda Brathwaites, who will get assimilated the second they open their mouths, and the pretenders. In nerd-land, women can use their sex as currency. Whatever most normal women might want to say about male gamers, they cannot deny that there are many women who are in it for the attention.

Which sounds so strange. In the 90s, no one would do this. Most people would pretend not to be nerds. If enough nerd girls in the 90s had “joined the ranks” so to speak, I suspect we wouldn’t be having these conversations as late as 2012.

In any case, the point is: it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if you’re a hipster who started gaming on his iPhone 6 months ago and now you consider yourself a “gamer”. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “normal” girl who likes World of Goo, or if you’re a hardcore gamer who keeps her hand on the WASD keys, and happens to be a woman, or man, or something else. Gaming doesn’t belong to the revolutionaries any more. The poison that has welled up inside of them from the years of having to fight for being a gamer is the exact thing that needs to go if gaming is going to become an accepted part of society.

The only thing I would say is: Don’t hate the people lashing out against a revolution that’s slipped from their hands. Hate is not the thing the revolution needs. It needs love. And all the angry original gamers need love too. In many ways, that’s just as hard as starting the revolution in the first place.