This has been a topic that has actually just scratched me by. Somehow around the parts where I live and on the sites I visit, this was never such a big deal. But then I found out: it quite is. The so called "fake gamer girls", that apprently ruin the fan scene. Girls that just pretend to be gamers, because it's cool and trendy. The next evolution of the hipster, so to say. But do they really do any damage?
Let's face it: gaming has become cool
It started with this...
It was when I visited an established toystore line here in Germany, that it really finally hit me. Gaming, as a hobby, has become acceptable. Moreso even: gaming has become cool. While it was something for the social outcasts 20-30 years ago, it's now something that is perfectly fine to enjoy for everybody. When I saw Mario memrabilia in that said store, I knew the day has actually come. The influence of gaming can't be denied anymore. "The cake is a lie" is a well known pop culture reference and so are the green mushroom and other things. Gaming has become something for everybody - and we, as the gamer subculture, have to live with that. What was "our" little space, our comfort zone, a few years ago, is now something more people want to enjoy.
This, per se, isn't bad. Sure, as the law of relations goes, that also means that more assholes flood into the subculture, but that is something that happens everywhere. It's just the nature of things and we can't stop it. But then again, no one seems to bother that, either. It's just those pesky fake gamer girls.
Some argued that they are a sign that gaming has become mainstream and thus worthless. To those people I can only say: fuck off. Games were always SOLD, there has always been an industry behind it and while there are always ambitious people in a big industry that genuinly try to create something artistic, it's the nature of the industry to ensure an income for the people behind it. Bend it how you want, that fact won't change. And it hasn't changed over the past few years, the numbers just got bigger and bigger. Instead of being a bestseller with 1 million copies, you now have to beat 5 million copies sold. Instead of 7 people work on a game, there are now big teams involved. Instead of pixely 32 color games, we have fully rendered HD 3D graphics. It all has evolved, but it's still the same. This has most likely played a big role into games becoming more and more mainstream, but it was a natural evolution and not something forced. But then again, this really isn't the topic here.
Motive and cause?
As far as I can tell this usually refers to usually good looking girls posing with gaming equipment. One of the most famous pictures would be this one:
In short: it's a girl pretending to be a gamer. There are whole articles written on how to spot them. Saying that Super Mario Bros is the favorite game, games like Farmville aren't games, you don't know MMO specific slang... all those very stupid arguments that only a moron would actually use. My favorite was the one that basically said "If she is very outspoken about her hobby, yeah... faaa~ke".
So basically, there are apparently some girls out there that pretend to be avid gamers, but really aren't. And that makes people angry. I can't really speak first hand experience here, because I never met anyone of those ominous fake gamer girls. But I do believe that nothing happens without reason, meaning: when a person does something, there usually is a motive. So the motive would be the girl would want to be recognized as a gamer. The question that stays is: to what effect?
To get the attention of (gamer) guys? Hm, well, that actually might be. Some people DO have incredibly low self esteem and just have to boost it by fishing for compliments. Yes, those people DO exist. And pictures like the above one are handed through forums and imageboards and there is always someone jacking off to stuff like that. Or maybe they do have a crush on someone who is a gamer and they want to get closer to that person. We have seen stranger, I assure you.
To fit in with the crowd? Well, it's pretty apparent that this wouldn't work. If you are part of a group associated with a certain topic, you can't just fit in. Even if you dozends of wiki sites so you have the basic information, it will be noticeable. Let someone retell the story of Portal 2 who has just read the synopsis and then by someone who actually played it - you will notice the difference.
I really can't think of any other motives to pretend to be part of a group than those. Be it gamer or anything else. But those two reasons are not really too bad. Sure, if you try to endear yourself to someone by claiming you are something you aren't, that shit won't fly for too long. The lid will get blown off and the hypothetical male object of desire can likely feel betrayed and might turn his back on the girl. If all, some feelings will get hurt and a lesson might even be learned. But aside from that? I can hardly see any damage done.
Now of course one could argue that these people are trying to damage the reputation of gamers by claming they are gamers, then misbehave. But you would have to be a pretty big idiot to actually BELIEVE that. I mean, we are gamers. Our reputation is in the shitter since Columbine and it hasn't gotten any better. In the eyes of society we're already potential mass murderers, so I consider that theory out of the window.
Oh, and just get the other kind of "fake gamer girl" in here: modeling. Because, yes, there are actually models that go to shoots where they are asked to pose with gaming related stuff. I would dare to say that those people simply do their job and don't care much about what they are holding and calling them out on it is just stupid. It's like asking a doctor to know what kind of steel his scalpel is made of and how to forge one. The reasons why people demand that kind of shootings can be many: maybe they really want to cater at gamers. Maybe they just found some item that serves their need/goal they want to reach with that shooting. But really, there is no need to hate on those people. It's a job and it's not something unethical to pose with gaming stuff, if you are not a gamer. You might think so, but in this case you are wrong. Plain and simple.
Clearly a fake gaming model - wait, what?
What is real?!
But then again: when is someone a fake gamer girl? This is a discussion I actually had recently, just about being called a "fan" in general and I think everybody has their own standards here. As an example: there once was a girl who claimed to be a HUGE fan of the band Dornenreich, a band I really love. It was pretty clear that the girl was simply getting wet for the singer. At the moment I met that girl the newest album was In Luft geritzt (Ripped in air), which she kept calling In DIE Luft geritzt (Ripped in THE air), even after correcting her. So she was pretty much a moron and I didn't consider her a real fan. She was getting off to the singer, fine, but that didn't make her a fan of the band in my eyes.
But do you have to know the lyrics to be a fan? Know how to play the riffs? Know the real names of the artists? Do you have to know the voice actors of a game to be a REAL fan? Who produced it? Do you have to earn all the achievements or play it for a certain amount of time? No. No, you don't have to do that.
You should have a certain investment in the material, and I wouldn't know why you would consider yourself a fan if you don't have that, but that is actually all. I know people who don't play a lot of games, but tremendously enjoy Let's Plays or Walkthroughs. Just because you didn't play Portal in person, you can be a fan of it nonetheless. Sure, the experience you got was a different one if you just watched the games, but you have experienced it nonetheless.
Then again; this is just my opinion. I can understand if you are fan of something without knowing it, actually, pretty well. There are certain characters I liked just after I saw one single picture of them. I didn't know their personalities, didn't know their roles or ANYTHING besides their name and their looks - and I liked them nonetheless. I considered myself a fan of those characters just based on that. As you might tell my view on this has changed over the years, but I still remember those times. As long as the people aren't dickish about it, like the Dornenreich-girl, I actually don't mind. Those people don't harm me and if they are willing to listen when they are getting corrected by someone who actually does know more, hey, good for everybody.
I think we should get away from the term "real fan" anyways. It's just like "consoleros" and the "PC player master race", like the "casuals" and the "core gamers". It's a term that does only one thing: driving a wedge right into a group that has a commong hobby. If you feel the need to label yourself any further, have it that way, but you might want to think about why you feel the need to do so. Does it make you a better person? Are you more worth because of that? Do you think the aliens will probe your ass last for being "core" when the invasion starts? I somewhat doubt it.
I also heard a lot of comparisons like "the women who pose on cars surely aren't considered race drivers" or "when someone wears sneakers we don't assume they are professinal sports players". This is right, but these comparisons are just bullshit. Cars are something many people need (!), shoes are something that practically everybody needs - and this is the difference. Because videogames are a luxury after all. You don't need them to get to work, you play them to get down again. To calm yourself. So when someone poses with video game peripherals on private photos it's just logical to imply that this person is a gamer - the photo itself implies it already.
Then it must be pure misogyny, right?
Yeah... no. There was no way I could get around this, but: no. No, it is not. I said it before, but just to make sure I explicitly say it once more: there surely are sexist individuals in the fandom, on both gender sides, but the scene as a whole is not sexist (and if you honestly believe that is the case or that women can't be sexist, please go away because I really don't want you to read my stuff).
The thing is: after doing some research for this text, I came to the conclusion that female gamers can be somewhat worse than male gamers, when it comes to the witch hunt. You all know that cliché how a catfight is? I saw pretty much that in forum and blog form. I can't count how many allegedly female gamers sunk their teeth into so called "fake gamer girls" for being what they were. They can be as vicious as the male gamers and really no side left a good impression here.
REAL gamer girls hate fake gamer girls too
But even if it's a male gamer I wouldn't go so far to accuse them of misogyny. See, some of you might not remember those times or know this, but there was a time, not too far ago, when gaming wasn't this cool thing that got critically praised for good writing or emotional stories. It was hobby for shut-ins, nerds and eggheads. For those strange guys that knew how to use a computer. For the kids that stayed inside when the sun was shining, instead of going outside and playing soccer with their friends or stuff like that. Gamers were SHUNNED for simply enjoying their hobby. And looking at this, I think we get a the root of the problem.
See, nowadays the video game industry has become this HUGE monster, that rakes in millions. That markets Madden
and Call of Duty
games to the cool frat boys, Pokemon to the cute girls and Farmville to the soccer moms out there. Gaming has become a hobby for everybody. Not only that guy with the thick glasses, the heavy acne and no friends. Suddenly the people who laughed about videogames 15 years ago want to have their share of the fun too. It's like if the bullies of yonder want to enter the chess club now. And you know what? I can understand those who oppose that somewhat.
It's not that I don't grant them the pleasure that gaming brings. In fact, I think more people should give videogames a chance. But then again, I never had to really suffer of the fact that I do game. I grew up in a environment that was open to that. But I can only imagine the hate one might have for that pretty girl that laughed at you for spending your time with videogames and now is sooo~ into Portal and the cake is a lie and lulz! This isn't about sexism - it's about a form of revenge! It's the "You didn't want it back then, so why should I grant it to you NOW?" stance. And while I simply can't have that stance because of my personal experiences I can understand it nonetheless. And I think those people are well within their rights to have that stance.
And ff you REALLY think a girl can't be gamer, or a girl besides YOU can't be a real gamer: fuck off. Go the bronx like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 3, because you deserve that beating you will get.
But I think those people need to realize something. These girls that just pose with game peripherals for the sake of it, even if it's just to garner comments or whatever, they do no real damage. The worst case scenario is already written above: a heart might get broken, but that is something that will heal. The people that will be actually affected by such a situation surely are just a minority and they will get over it. People get over stuff like that all the time. The fazit I want to get to here is: yes, fake gamer girls exist. I simply have no reason to doubt that. BUT they won't do any damage to the hobby or the scene. Fucking Big Bang Theory
has done more damage with one episode than any fake gamer ever will (but that is another topic).
This doesn't actually hurt you, okay?
If you are a girl and get questions like if you're playing your CoD on your boyfriends account, you most likely already know you are dealing with an asshole. So if someone crosses you like that, mute/ignore that person, but also think about the cynic that might sit on the other side of the line. Think about the person that was once an idealist and was turned into what he is now by society over many years. And if you want to start asking questions to test the knowledge of the girl that just headshotted you, to defame her for all to see, remember one thing: the girl you are talking to might not be the former cheerleader queen/quaterback jock that laughed at you for playing video games, so don't project your anger on your fellow gamers.
But to those old school gamers, that think they are so core and pro: get over it. Deal with the fact that gaming gets more popular, because it WILL keep growing. So you can lock yourself in your basement with an old SNES and weep, or be an adult. No one will take away your enjoyment of games and the scene itself won't look any worse. In the very worst case someone will try to get closer to you by pretending the person is someone who she isn't - and that is nothing exclusive to gamers. If you want to be a proud gamer, BE a proud gamer. But don't think you have the right to rate a person, don't think you have any right to hate that girl that just walked past you with a Super Mario shirt and for fucK's sake, don't think there is some kind of test someone has to master to be accepted as a "real gamer". Because there will always be someone who does this stuff longer than you and if you start to "test" that person, because you think it's just another fake gamer, they might hand your ass to you. And you deserve getting your ass handed to you then.