It’s not a subject I normally post about here, but I’ve been reading a number of articles lately that have prompted me to do a little soul searching. I have been interested in gaming ever since I was a wide-eyed kid. I first happened upon Dungeons & Dragons in 1984 and fell in love with the concept of role playing and story telling. Since that time, I have played more board games than I can count, and have had an on again and off again relationship with the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game since 1995.
Old school gamer that I am (computer games beyond 8 bit computers like the venerable Commodore 64 and Amstrad never hooked me completely), the subject of female gamers has inevitably been discussed on more than one occasion over the years. Where women in gaming was rather a rarity, there are now more women involved in some sort of gaming culture than ever before. This is a good thing not because I am seeing women as some kind of novelty, but because it’s really about time.
Having been involved in gaming culture for so many years, I have also seen how lots of women are treated by men, and it’s not too good. One of the biggest issues is that female gamers have taken on some sort of mythical status among many men in gaming. Since there have traditionally been so few women playing these kinds of games, the men involved have seen female gamers as a novelty. This has been expressed by men variously in terms of fawning, objectification, obsession, awkwardness, anger, resentment, and so on..you get the general picture.
I will admit now that many years ago, I fell into this camp. I remember discussing the myth of the female gamer with male gaming friends. I would extol to them the virtues of a woman who was also into gaming and how it might be great to be with someone like that. But don’t hold it against me, dear reader. I changed my attitudes eventually.
The Big Problem With Nice Guys
To look at how women in gaming have been treated over the years, it’s necessary to discuss the nice guy problem. When a guy is young and single, he’s usually pretty awkward around girls. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all guys, but it accurately describes many guys who are also into some type of gaming culture, whether it’s pen and paper RPGs or Playstations. Growing up is not easy and we all go through some pretty awkward stages, but some of us are slower than others to mature for a variety of reasons.
When I was at University, I was incredibly distracted by the fantasy of having a girlfriend. I had, mistakenly, viewed University as some sort of heaving bazaar of potential hook-ups and romantic relationships. My experience was really quite the opposite, I will admit. Far from the lightly debauched weekend parties I had imagined, my days were filled with lectures, luncheons with mostly male friends, and looking for the latest import CDs. Frankly, it was very disappointing.
What I failed to realise back then was that being a nice guy just wasn’t really enough for the ladies. Like lots of guys who don’t really know how to talk to girls, I thought that by being a nice person, I would automatically attract a mate. It sounds absurd doesn’t it? The trouble is that lots of young guys fall into this trap in thinking. It’s the nice guy problem.
You see, dear reader, back then I thought only of myself and my own needs. I thought that if I was nice enough to a woman I was attracted to, she would automatically like me enough in return to date me. I can tell you now that this doesn’t work. I said some really stupid things to women back then to get their attention or to express my feelings about them. And when they looked horrified, I blamed it on them. That’s right, I did what lots of guys do, and blamed the woman for not being interested in me. My thought was this:
“I am a nice guy, so why would she not be into me? If she’s into that other guy, she must either be stupid, or she must be into some sort of bad boy”
What I didn’t ever think about was what was I really offering them beyond being a nice guy? Why would they be into me? I relied so much on my nice guy image that I failed to realise that it’s not enough. Here’s the brutal truth of it: women can get the attention of nice guys a dozen times a day, so why would they bother with one more to add to that long list?
The fact is that I wasn’t actually offering anything of value. I wasn’t actually offering anything that any woman couldn’t find anywhere else, and I blamed them for it.
Gamer Jerks and Female Gamers
Frankly, the gaming world has always been full of jerky guys. I might have been a very low level one, but I was no different to any other guy who put female gamers on a pedestal, and devalued them in the process. Fortunately, I learned quickly from my mistakes and the boorish behaviour of those men around me.
When it comes to the nice guy problem and gaming, it’s really all about sex. Female gamers are treated poorly by lots of male gamers because those jerks are either not getting any action and desperately want some action, or have some kind of sublimated attraction that isn’t being attended to. When inevitably, these guys fawn over women in their gaming circles and find that they are knocked back, some of them can get angry and hurt over it. But here’s the truth you guys have to hear: get over it!
So, you’re a nice guy? So what? Being nice isn’t enough. What else are you putting on the table? Do you have a great sense of humour? Can you play guitar like a hero? Are you a gifted debater? What have you got? And if she still isn’t into you, then don’t start the blame game! That game goes nowhere really fast and can get really ugly.
Where It Gets Toxic
Sadly, it seems that there are a growing number of so-called ‘manosphere’ groups online that are filled with the sort of toxic masculinity that is a problem for both sexes. All one has to do is look at a site like Return of Kings to see how twisted some of these guys really are. Plenty of these men are embittered and are looking for a convenient scapegoat rather than looking in the mirror at their own miserable failings.
Toxic men like this aspire to be some sort of Alpha male and resort to calling other men Betas or Beta Cucks (cuckolds I assume). These men look to 1950s America for inspiration and would love to roll back feminism in the hopes that they will find a woman that can tolerate them. Frankly, I have had my own share of problems with toxic jerks like this. They are the kinds of men who think that all men should lead, be strong and brutish, and dominate their women (because the world is such a great place with men in charge isn’t it fellas?). Unfortunately, many of the losers on sites like this are also white supremacists as well as sad insecure misfits who are afraid of smart and individuated women.