Friday, March 30, 2012

Our culture, it's evolving.. into a Magikarp.

Growing up in this day and age, with the endless series of tubes that is the internet, there's no doubt that the things that could've easily been considered niche: a meme, underground band perhaps, have the power to spread like a wildfire. On the subject of double rainbows I feel fairly confident that we are covered.. however, what does this mean for the self proclaimed 'nerds, geeks and gamers'?

What is it that defines us as people? I would imagine most would consider the answer to that question as the hobbies that consume their daily lives, the people they spend it with and maybe even for some, the objects that they behold.

I remember when I was in high school and I was enthralled at the idea of defining myself. I spent hours upon hours listing hundreds of both likes, and dislikes on my LiveJournal profile page, flipping back and forth between tabs as I checked the current status of my Neopets.

A lot has changed since then. For one, I have come to realize that you cannot define a person with a sentence, a series of likes, dislikes.. or 140 characters for that matter. The truth is, there is no way to define a person, or, even gather enough evidence to formulate a solid opinion without getting to know them. I like to think that on the subject of nature versus nurture, growing up in town where I felt I was constantly being sized up could have been what led to me to my love affair with technology: the internet, video games. But it's more than just that.

There is no way to simply define a person in the same way that there is no way to physical shit out of your mouth. We can surely try, and we do. Social media has made it easy to throw around terms like geek, gamer, nerd.. the list goes on and on. For many, the internet offered an escape from stereotypes, but now this idea as we very know it is being threatened.

I read a particularly interesting and thought provoking article by games journalist Leigh Alexander this past week. I really hope you read it. She's awesome. It hits the nail on the head in terms of confronting the scary world in which we are now living, the way our culture has evolved as a whole, and the direction that the internet is pushing us on a social level.

Atop of this, Maxim Magazine just posted a casting call for all of you 'gamer girls' out there, which is actually proof, that it is, in fact, possible to shit out of your mouth, so you can retract my previous statement. It's not that I have a problem with the girls who are applying, just the way the situation was handled by the casting agency - don't forget to "wear your hottest outfit", and "bring a headshot".. I'll give you a headshot Maxim.

Sigh. This new 'acceptance' of nerd/geek culture is both relieving and frightening to me. And, despite my urge kick my feet up while petting a hairless cat and laughing maniacally, I really do wonder sometimes.. I'm good for it.


Wolfgang Wozniak said...

Basically, I can definitively tell you that I, personally, am a huge goddamn nerd. I'm an indie game developer with more time on his hands than I know what to do with, and I have a bad habit of staying locked away in my home. Though I'm a social butterfl.... no, I'm a social kung-fu lizard. Though I'm a social kung-fu lizard, I am a little down on my current city, as it's not nearly nerd enough (in the way I need it to be (there's music nerd all over!)) for my tastes.

We're all nerds in our own way. I hope at least. I hope people are interested in things..

But yes, I also sort of generally dislike most of the "enthusiast" side of things. You know, the Mountain-Dew sweating, loud mouthed, pizza faced, DOOM shirt wearing sexists that are a hold over from the 90's. Most of that is still here. Strongly.

Ahhh forgive me. I'm rambling.

Beck said...

I'm not sure we can be whomever we want to be on the internet anymore. I think a few years ago that was my conclusion, that no matter your interests, somewhere online there's a community for it. In the primitive pre-internet days if there was no one else who liked RPGs or had a vacuum cleaner fetish or whatever in your town you were pretty isolated...but now no matter where these types spring up in realsapce they can connect in the cloud. The world was becoming a balkanized ecosystem of microstates where no matter how out there, everything could be normal.

But...I think as social media connects us more into this gestalt, that world is becoming less true. Whereas once these communities were fairly separate and anonymized now they are more and more linked to a baseline identity, one which has to be carefully curated. It's a world which can draw consequences and massive amounts of judgment if the collectively networked attention span falls upon it. Jobs and even lives can be lost because of it. For those born breathing the cloud, the harsh immaturity of online interaction is no longer this otherspace we were introduced to later in life, it's as permeable and real as any other social interaction, and sometimes even worth killing yourself over.

Beck said...

The Leigh Alexander article actually annoyed me a bit. Wasn't too fond of her view that the reason people had geeky interests was because they were trying to shelter themselves from social interaction in a blanket fort, and now they are pissed because people are spilling party drinks on their blanket as they keep hiding under it trying to finish a session of D&D. Waah, wet blanket!

I think people liked whatever their interests were, and for whatever reason those interests were labelled as marginalized (or at least they used to be). For better or worse, that formative outsiderness was a part of shared geek culture, and while it's of course good to grow past it, I can understand an unease with a rapid influx of people into the culture who may have never gone through it.

Oddly, I think the best analogy I could make is someone being gay. For many there was a similar or much stronger level of outsiderness during formative years. If being gay suddenly became fashionable or trendy enough that people who had never considered it before were picking it up in their'd be a mixed bag. Gay for pay porn, like maxim gamergirls, could either arouse you or offend you depending on your sensibilities, probably both. You might feel likewise for all the new hot folk showing up at the club every night, ones who before now seemed more mainstream and hadn't displayed interest. But hey, while adolescence is home to a bulk of identity formation, it's certainly not the end of it, right? Hell, you should probably just enjoy the new crowd, and also probably not question the "sincerity" of their what defines you what you do now or what you used to be?

...but I think it makes sense to have a bit of anxiety about whether they'll still be around in a few years, still like what you like if it becomes unpopular once again. After all, no one feels comfortable seeing a strong element of their own identity worn by others simply for a trending fashion.

Dre said...

I will say this, I worked my ass off to be labeled and mistreated as a True Gamer. I get annoyed when people still look down on me when I say I play video games, but I don't strictly play FPS/Sports games. I get pissed when people say they are gamers and that is all they play. I get annoyed with this gamergirl craze, and the bullshit they portray because they are just trying to sell this craze to consumers. Look at these pinup gamergirls, gtfo. A real gamer girl doesn't look nor act like that. Now I'm not saying they can't be pretty, the only true gamergirl I know (Dat Alibakes) is, but thats not what is important. What they find important is what any true gamer would. THE FUCKING GAME. The game, the stats, the players, the world, the story, the gameplay, the failure, the rage, the success and the glory. I could rage some more but I should probably stop.

Dre said...

The intellect in your last two comments is phenomenal. It brings a spark of hope that this world can birth intelligible people and makes me worry less. But then I began to dread and realize that the world is ruled by fickle, mindless idiots who are not wise but think they are. So I applaud you, and I agree with you. The term should be gamer, all inclusive because gender shouldn't matter. Though I still find girls who are gamers to be few and far between and thats what honestly worries me more. I get annoyed because people just don't seem to understand what I see when I play video games. But it's the same thing they see when they read, watch movies, listen to music or watch television. It just makes sense to me and it brings me joy, the one thing in my life that currently does in fact. The adventures I've gone through are the same as anyone who has read enough books to fill a library, but yet I always felt judged and like an outsider. Yet now it becomes something people throw around and I feel like people don't truly understand. I hear gamer and then I hear a spew of comments about CoD and Madden, and I secretly rage on the inside because it's bullshit. I agree that I should be joyed the community is ever expanding, and that generally gamers are genuine people who don't judge but join in. So I say cheers to the future, where gamers can game their hearts out until their HP hits 0.

IamRyy said...

The Maxim advertising really annoys me. As a guy who plays video games I'm hardly anything or anyone to talk about but the "gamer girl" craze has driven me insane. If you're a girl and you play video games or are nerdy because those are your interests than that is just awesome. The problem is the image of the girl gamer now being labeled as sexy and how it's being abused. Licking a controller and posing (or just going along with the Maxim image) is just stupid. Real gamer girls post screenshots and not self-shots.

I also never understood why the terms gamer girl or girl gamer ever really had to go together. I don't label myself a guy gamer or gamer dude but just as a gamer in general. I don't look at a girl who games any differently than a guy, and if anything it should come down to that person's skill or attitude and not their sex that should be more important.

ShaunWilliamCallahan said...

”I'll give you a headshot, MAXIM” <--- you're the best :-)

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