GamerGate, stereotypes and the ‘gaming community’

Ever since the GamerGate movement arose a few months ago, many claims have been made about how it has hijacked the “gaming community.”

GamerGate’s supposed message promoting ethical games journalism has been dwarfed by its association with harassment, threats and misogyny. Now national media has picked up the story, with a New York Times article making the front page of the paper.

That attention has only amplified the message of so many who bemoan GamerGate’s negative influence on the “gaming community’s” reputation. Just read a few of the top comments on that piece to learn the general public’s reaction to GamerGate (hint: it’s not good).

Clearly, gamers have a long way to go to shake their reputation as basement-dwelling nerds. And many gamers believe GamerGate is to thank for that and have taken to Twitter to voice their concern for this “gaming community.”

Here’s the thing: Older generations might forever lump gamers into a single stereotype. But why are gamers so quick to do the same? Why is there seemingly only one “gaming community” that every schmuck who has ever played Angry Birds is suddenly a member of?

There are so many different types of gamers that classifying them as one group is both unnecessary and inaccurate. Gaming has become such a mainstream hobby that there is room for countless communities under its umbrella.

59percent

We’ve all heard the statistics: 59 percent of Americans play video games, and that group spent $21.53 billion on games in 2013.Is every one of those Americans part of the “gaming community?”

A community should be more intimate. Narrow it down – gamers who prefer a certain console, genre or developer would be a good place to start using the term “community.” Even better, a community could be a group of dedicated fans of a certain game.

The point is that games and the people who play them have become so diverse that it’s insufficient to consider them all part of a single club.

While it’s true that GamerGaters poison the image of those who identify as gamers, especially to older generations, its supporters are part of their own community, just like League of Legends players or Mount and Blade modders. Don’t give GamerGaters the power to make you feel bad about playing video games.

GamerGate hasn’t hijacked all of gaming, although it might appear that way to those unfamiliar with the evolution of the hobby. Not every gamer is the same, and the hobby has become too large and diverse to generalize so easily.

And, ultimately, if New York Times readers refuse to recognize the diversity of modern gamers, that’s their fault. It’s on them to realize that one group of gamers doesn’t speak for everyone, despite being the loudest.

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