That was a fun read. That’s really all I have to say about it.
I thought it was more than just a fun read.
If you take video games out entirely, it’s a story about growing up, about an adolescent trying to decide who they want to be. That’s human experience, and author expressed it as well enough for me (at least) to see the threads in my own life were the same, just slightly different colours.
But she also talked about something I didn’t experience, the heavy hand of gender expectations. I concealed my love of game from ‘norms’ because there was a stigma about it, but there were always a wide spectrum of people (by which I mean ‘fellow possessors of a Y chromosome’) to discuss them with.
So I thought it was memoir writing at its best. It connected the author’s personal experience to both a universal human experience and a wider cultural issue.
Incidentally, her first game of choice is the only Final Fantasy (-ish) game I have ever finished. On an emulator, but still. As such, I do obviously have to applaud her taste in games.
(Not because I dislike the series, either - IX is to this day on my todo list.)
A great story and I agree with DevinC it doesn’t have much to do with video games. Lots of people feel they don’t fit in. In fact I’d argue in the average high school / college less than 70% of the people feel like they’re part of the “in” crowd or doing what everyone else expects.
On the other hand, I don’t really know about this “girls aren’t expected to pay videogames” thing. My sister has been playing videogames since at least NES days. She 44 now. Still plays. I don’t think it’s ever once occurred to her that she shouldn’t nor do I think she’s ever had someone discourage her from playing. To her they’re just another fun activity like movies, tv, books, sports, whatever.
It’s funny to me how different people with their different experiences can perceive the world so differently
Engaging, insightful, and nice illustrations. Though it brings up some issues that always baffled me:
Why are some people so down about girl gamers? In 1990s high school I only knew one girl who seemed into video games, but that was one of the things that made her cool in my eyes.
I can see there being a problem with not fitting in with peer interests, but why the rejection from similarly inclined geeks? The only excuse that comes to mind is socially awkward people having trouble admitting their commonalities or admiration for other socially awkward people.
The whole “fake geek girl” thing confounds me too. Can geek poseurs even exist? How can that be a thing? If anything fascinates you enough that you want to emulate it, even part of the time, doesn’t that kinda make you a geek?
So maybe you have more mainstream interests as well: Great, nice to hear you’re balancing different aspects of your life.
Or maybe you aren’t the foremost exponent of (insert geek culture here): No problem, we’re all learning.
Or maybe you dress or act a certain way to get positive attention: Don’t most people do this throughout their lives in various contexts? How is awareness and manipulation of your own social impact a bad thing?
Just thinking about this makes me want to throw up my hands in exasperation.
Yeah, you’ve pretty much summed up the whole ridiculous “fake geek girl” fiasco. Some geeks got butthurt because some girls were supposedly “appropriating” geek culture, when they weren’t really geeks. That is, they weren’t being geeks the way that those geeks wanted them to be. And then other, more clearminded geeks spoke up to say “Uh, hey dummy, you’re not the one who gets to decide how people enjoy the things they want to enjoy”.
Edit: John Scalzi was right in the thick of that who controvesy… His post on it is here (entitled “Who Gets To Be a Geek? Anyone Who Wants To Be”)
Upon further reflection, this is exactly my take away. It was really just a “awkward 14 year old hides her true self to fit in, realizes through high school and college that she actually doesn’t have to hide her true self, gains self confidence, ends up happier as a result” story (that many of us go through), but this time just happened to feature video games and gender expectations. Good on her for having the self-awareness to understand it, and the honesty to share it with the world, warts and all.
Sure, it made her cool in YOUR eyes, but it probably didn’t make her cool in the general high school population’s eyes, which is what this girl in particular seemed to be striving for in her teenage years. And really, it’s what many of us strive for in our teenage years. I gave up a lot of interests that I loved, but which were considered “uncool”, in order to fit in when I was in high school. Comics are one of said interests, and I’m only really getting back into them now, 20 years later.
I kind of understand where the anger about “fake” geek girls comes from. It’s sort of like the “nerd” costumes they sell for halloween - it’s putting on the dressings of a stereotype for amusement or other gain. It’s not far removed from blackface.
But the issue really is determining who is a “genuine geek”, and that’s what people who are angry don’t understand - anyone can be a geek if they want to. Some people think they’re born geeks and have always been and always will be geeks, and anybody who’s only getting interested in geeky stuff later in life doesn’t count (particularly if the newcomers didn’t suffer when they were young).
What really brought the issue to the fore is “geek chic”; the co-opting of certain clothing and accessories once the sole domain of “true geeks” and nerds into mainstream/hipster fashion. Teen girls made that stuff cool all of a sudden, and people like in the comic who have only ever played angry birds called themselves geeks. Like many teenagers, they just went along with what was cool whether they were actually interested or not.
Of course that’s only one aspect of it, another thing is stereotypically “hot” women gaining visibility as hosts on the G4 TV channel, youtube shows made by game magazines, etc. It’d be easy to imagine those places simply hiring models and actors, and I guess that’s what people assumed… though it turns out that most, if not all, of those people are like the author of the comic - they are actually into that stuff, but they’re also girly or whatever and don’t dress like a geek stereotype.
In any case, what it comes down to is what was once social suicide for non-geeks, stuff like gaming and whatever, is becoming mainstream. Like in the comic, nobody in high school now would think twice about anyone of any type if they said they’re into videogames.
That said, there’s certainly different levels of geekiness. It’s like the word “hipster”, which is used so generically it’s lost meaning. It’s becoming harder and harder to label people - a good thing - and soon I think the word “geek” will lose a lot of the meaning and connotations that it has now.
And all the assholes who make nerdy and geeky stuff hard for females to approach can go fuck themselves (not like anyone else will, anyway) - they’ll disappear over time too.
Do it, it´s real good.
It most certainly is far removed from blackface. Comparing the plight of the sterotypical “nerd” (white, smart, socially awkward) to institutional racism is ham-fisted and insensitive.
I agree that it’s insensitive, but the structure (“dress up as a group you feel superior to for fun & profit”) and dynamics (it lets you appropriate the parts you like without it “rubbing off” on you) are … really kind of similar, though on very different scales.
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