Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dear Gamers

Dear Gamers,

I saw a post today on the World of Warcraft forums from a player who had "outed" herself in real life as a gamer.  I didn't think much about it; the social stigma against gaming, whether or not exists, and how various gamers deal with it, is a topic which comes up fairly often on the forums.

And then the replies rolled in.

Here are my favorite two from the first page:
Careful, this kind of "coming out" may lead to more discrimination than the other one!
LOLS! (true though.) 
There is less stigma to being gay than there is to playing WoW. Gamers are just not normal.
The best part of that is how the poster backs off of the statement with a "lol" and then comes around again with a "true though."

Let's see.  Gamers face more discrimination than gay people, you say?  Let's look at that from the perspective of the USA, where the majority of WOW-US general forumgoers reside.

Can gamers legally marry each other in all 50 states?

Do gamers face discrimination in housing?

Can gamers legally adopt in all 50 states?  Do legal barriers prevent gamers from fostering children?

Can two gamer kids attend school functions together without facing resistance from the administration?  Can gamer kids wear gaming-related T-shirts to school without facing resistance from the administration?

How often are young gamers thrown out of their own homes by their own parents simply for liking videogames?

Do gamers have trouble getting appropriate healthcare?  Do gamers have trouble securing appropriate identification and government documentation?  For how many years were gamers barred from serving in the Armed Forces?

Job discrimination, murder rates, assault rates, legal barriers, institutional discrimination, the list goes on.  You can talk about the social stigma against gamers as much as you like, but please don't play "contrast and compare" and "who has it worse" with the gay community, or people of color, or women, or other marginalized populations.

Gamers who feel that they're facing prejudice and bigotry can, if need be, put down the controller, step away from the keyboard, or stop rolling the dice.  Trying to change or deny one's sexual orientation and sexual identity aren't comparable.

With love,
Frank Lee


  1. I have to disagree about putting down the dice; I tried once, and it didn't end well at all. I couldn't do it any more than I could start being attracted to women. That, to me, is what it means to be a gamer: it's the only thing I've ever found that makes me happy.

    To the rest of it though, right on. I've never feared for my life as a result of gaming, only my stuff. If a lovingly converted and painted model gets stolen and destroyed for the sheer bullying hell of it, it can be replaced. I've only got the one body, and I have feared for it as a result of my sexuality.

  2. Ugh. I can't bring myself to read more than the first two pages of that thread, but I bet somewhere in there someone says that "gamerism" is the last acceptable prejudice.

  3. and I love the idea that gamers are a completely separate species to gay people. gay gamers couldn't *possibly* be a thing!

    (read: I don't love that idea at all.)