Editorial – The tags we wear…

Whilst I was checking twitter, I came across an article from UKfurforums. The article itself was about reporting on the negative side of news relating to furry culture and a specific piece of news that had been reported.
The article itself was not the best and didn’t really address the point that it originally started on. However, in the comments came an interesting discussion on the tags that we give ourselves and the perception that comes with them.
We give ourselves tags to identify us as different from the rest of he world, furry, gamer, nerd, geek. They are badges that we wear with pride and give a clear image to everyone else of what we like and do. The discussion started with the amusing Google search game that everyone does by entering “word” is/are.
Starting with furries, Google states we are weird, sick, stupid, etc until at the end of the list we are not bad. If Google is a good example then the tag we choose has been affiliated with some very bad press.
Gamers are losers, idiots, stupid, smarter, sexist, sad. Again, some bad press here.
Yet we fight for the right to wear these badges with pride, often defending them with vitriol and passion that is not seen outside of sports fans.
I sometimes wonder why…
As gamers, we have tried hard to get our hobby recognized by the mainstream. To an extent this has occurred, with more people at least knowing about games and even playing casual ones. From Call of Duty to Candy Crush, our hobby has never been this popular and recognized and we are set to see it reaching further with the new console launch and greater penetration of the internet.
But if you say you are a gamer to people, you will get a look. That look that says, clearly you sit about in your pants eating cheese puffs playing WoW and drinking Mountain Dew.
Sure you can defend your hobby, you can argue about it being beneficial and hand eye co-ordination. Yet even the most well thought out argument will be thrown out by peoples perception of gamers.
Even I find it hard to bring games and gaming into casual conversation, especially as I see myself as a polygamer (made up term ish). I play computer games, roleplaying games, board games, card games, etc. My gamer “tag” covers a whole load of things, but peoples perception on what a gamer is will restrict how I would interact with people until I have a clear idea on peoples opinion.
So if it is difficult to maintain these tags, why do we use them? Why cling to the negative difference that they give?
We are, as a whole, a group of strange misanthropes who are not the most socially acceptable. I would dare anyone who reads this to say that they have no issues that can be fully accepted by society.
The reason that I can see on why we hold onto this, is the feeling of brotherhood it brings, the sense of identity, the warm fuzzy feeling you have when someone recognizes you as a gamer and say they are too. Its rare that this occurs, even with the increase in gamers, but we all look forward to that experience.
Could we find a way of making ours tags more acceptable? That’s the tricky one…
The Google search brings up several things that we as gamers have not addressed properly. Sexism, homophobia, self entitlement issues and intelligence.
We have all seen the news of sexism in games, at cons and on forums and on live chat. Heaven forbid that you’re a girl and announce the fact online, for fear of the pre-adolescent rampage that would head your way. This in itself is a whole editorial, but it is an issue that gamers ignore and sometimes propagate in comments and behavior. Women are people too, and should be treated as such, especially if they like the same hobby.
The LGBT issue has raised its head many a time, often with much vitriol as people state that games should not have these harmful things inside them. In my view, this is one of the best ways of being able to get a social taboo out to people in a way that can be understood by many. If it is done well, then the positive message it can have would be epic.
Self entitlement, lets just say Mass Effect 3 here. Granted, the game had issues, and people felt they were promised something when that wasn’t the case. Yet, gamers stamped their collective feet to get what they want to happen, and now have caused developers to do soundings before they even design a game, which is not a good way of creating something. Seriously, read Dilbert cartoons and see why this idea is stupid.
The idea that gamers are stupid and games make you stupid is one I find amusing, but the hardest to fight, especially with parents. I learnt a lot from all the games I have played and I look forward to teaching my skills to my daughter when she is able to roll dice and hold controllers. I will get her to the point that people will not play Monopoly with her and that she can hold her own in Street Fighter (Cheap Ken for the win) (ED: Cheap Ryu is better – how many times has your Cheap Ken defeated Salamander’s Troll Vega/Blanka?). I will also make sure that she still does her homework, something that I know most parents don’t do as it is easier not to fight over the console.

Its a whole load of work to do to get a positive spin on the gamer tag, and it need to be done by everyone. If you take from this one thing, it should be that if you can help improve the image of gamers then you should. Then maybe we shall see Google saying we are friendly, fun and smart.

As for furries, we need to start culling the idiots from the herd… With fire.

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