So something happened recently and no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get it out of my head. I know I'm being silly and childish. I know I'm too old to worry about what other people think of me. I know this argument has been repeated over and over. However, the longer I dwell on it, the more I realize I've fought this battle a hundred times.
Now the incident I'm talking about happens to be a little article posted up here on Destructoid a couple weeks ago. My attempt to web link
The article stated how Kathie Lee Gifford made the comment that any person over a certain age that plays video games is weird. Unless you're playing the games with your children, you should have more important matters on your mind. Now this was followed by several rude remarks towards Kathie Lee, and then there were some remarks from people who enforced the who cares, she doesn't know state of mind. I even posted a remark about how I could be falling asleep on the couch every night to some reality TV show instead of being mentally involved in what I was doing. That should have been the end of it, but it's a little more personal for me.
We are at a point in time that being a female gamer is no big deal, or shouldn't be a big deal anymore. Female gamers have had to fight their way through the endless sexist remarks, the "OMG are you a girl? Wanna chat?" ordeals, and game developers just not recognizing us in the market. But how much have we accepted the older female gamer? Yes, here on Destructoid we have a mixed community. It is truly a wonderful place to be and the people are amazing. But what about world wide? What about a smaller town like the one I live in?
How older women should dress compared to how you're viewed if you don't.
Let's start off with an incident that happened to me recently. I had to go into work and pick up my paycheck. Now this was on a Friday that I was scheduled off. It should be noted that I work in a high fashion retail store. I also worked at a bank in the past so dressing up is something I do quite often. On this day I had on my worn jeans and a Call of Duty t-shirt. The very first person I run into responds with, "Did you forget to do laundry and end up having to steal your daughter's shirt?" I suppose this person was only trying to be funny, I mean after all, normally I'm dressed to the max. But I've noticed this behavior on other occasions. I can not throw on a Gears of War t-shirt and go anywhere without head turns and strange looks from passers-by. Would I get the same strange looks if I had on a t-shirt with a big ass picture of a bulldog on it, that read Cleveland Browns? Heck no. It's a sports team so that's perfectly fine no matter your age. Throw any game related clothing on me, or anything for that matter that's not deemed by the majority to be "age appropriate", and suddenly I'm the old lady trying to be young again. This standard does not, however, apply to men.
Widely appropriate for men of all ages.
And what about the cougar syndrome going around since Demi and Ashton hooked up? Now I do admit that I can usually start up a conversation with people of all ages about a game and have a normal conversation. I've done this at work when I see a kid wearing a Pokemon t-shirt. Their response is usually one of surprise that I can name all the Pokemon and talk to them about the games. There have been times I'll see a teenage customer walking through the store with a GameStop bag, and I'll ask them which game they've purchased, which leads to a deep conversation about aspects of said game being good or bad, or games yet to come out that everyone's looking forward to. Then there are the occasions where I get the look - the look like I'm flirting and trying to pick them up. Let's add to that responses I've got on Live when playing a multiplayer game and people find out I'm 45. Just because an older woman is passionate about games and playing Gears doesn't mean she's some creepy old lady out hunting for young bucks. Seriously, get over it.
Jump in baby, mommy wants to show you how to use that joystick.
Now the above two examples are situations that any older female gamer may run into, but let's get to the reason Kathie Lee's statement hit me on such a personal level. I've stated in my introduction that I am 45 and divorced. My marriage started out happy and storybook-ish like most marriages often do, and I remained married for nearly 20 years. (That's a heck of a long time by today's rate!) But the last 10 years of my marriage were pure hell. There was drinking, lying, and being treated like a prisoner in my own home. I'm not going to get into the details. I could probably write a book about it. Anyway, I knew I needed to get out, but I didn't know how to do it. I also had to consider my two children and how it would effect them.
Right around this time period I had started playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I ran into a group of people that I quickly became friends with. I can hear it now - "VIDEO GAMES ARE THE NEW LEADING CAUSE OF DIVORCE!" or "Video gamers defend their hobby and point to relationship problems existing to justify their excessive gaming," as claimed on a divorce blog I stumbled across recently.
Just plop me into the box with everyone else because there are no individual circumstances. Serioulsy, stfu..
I'll point out here that gaming for me is like TV, reading, gardening, cross-stitch, scrapbooking, etc. etc. all of which I do. I don't remember them requiring two people, and I'm pretty sure a LOT of people have similar hobbies, and like any hobby, your family comes first. But if you'd like to pick one and begin ranting how it's the reason for divorce, go for it. I'm sure people would defend their hobby, no matter what it is.
But back to my group of friends. They were a light in a time that I felt depressed, scared, alone, and unsure of what to do. They listened without taking sides. They offered advice. They were the support group when I was stuck at home for sometimes weeks with nobody to talk to but my kids. I'm not even sure if they know to this day how they helped me. I was able to leave and restart my life on my own feet. I went from being a prisoner to a free person able to control my own life. Do you know what reason my husband gave to friends and family about why I left? I left because he couldn't pay the cable bill and I couldn't play the Xbox.
20 years of marriage and I left for the Xbox. He has spoken, it must be true!
Now since being on my own I have found a job. I support my 15-year-old son on my own, with no help of child support from my ex. I'm taking care of back taxes he acquired, on my own. I've went back to school, and passed with As. I'm constantly trying to better myself and make something for my family. I have freedom to do what I want, when I want to do it. Except for one thing: I am constantly
having to defend playing video games at my age.
So you know what, Kathie Lee? Pretty sure I've had more than enough important matters on my mind. And to everyone else - I'm going to wear that Dead Space t-shirt when I feel like it. I'm going to stay up all night and play that $79.99 collector's edition of the newest game I bought, because I worked my ass off for the money to buy it. If I pass you by on the street and see you carrying a GameStop bag, playing a PSP, or DS, I'm going to stop and talk to you. It's my life baby, and I'll live it like I want to.
Oh, and btw, Kathie Lee - I think you're pretty weird too. That's why I watch Ellen.