Grandma is seriously pissed off today
This kind of post doesn't happen very often.
Grandma has her regular bookmarks on her Firefox toolbar that she clicks through every day for some gaming goodness. Destructoid, Kotaku, Joystiq, Crispy Gamer, The Escapist, etc.,.. She takes the dog out, makes a cup of coffee, sits down at her computer, checks her email and thus begins her routine a couple times a day.
Well, today she read this article on Kotaku.
Immediately afterword, she sought me out, showed me the article (and perhaps more importantly the comments section) and said the following:
"We're posting tonight. I got some shit to say."
The Kotaku article is a brief post on the Today Show disaster piece featuring The Big Fish Babes. Brian Crecente captions the segment with an appropriate eye-rolling sarcastic "Have you heard? Video games aren't just for 13-year-old boys anymore!"
As for the Today Show piece, Grandma's sentiments are pretty much the same.
Grandma has battle-hardened experience being schlepped around for various puff pieces on various news networks, an experience that was all in all harmless and thankfully not nearly as condescending or patronizing as what these ladies had to endure.
Grandma found her own answers as repetitive as the questions. Endless variations to "when did you start gaming?", "what do you friends think of your hobby?", or "what's your favorite game?" were met with near identical "at arcade machines in bowling alleys", "my friends don't understand it, really", and "Final Fantasy VII" respectively. Which was fine! What else are they going to ask?
But Grandma always, always, always included a massive caveat to all the attention gifted upon her:
She is not unique.
She is not the best older gamer.
She is not the oldest gamer.
There are many, many people just like her.
And that's what's awesome.
So when CBS Evening News or NPR or MTV called to ask some questions, she was genuinely bewildered. She would ask me, sincerely, why she was at all newsworthy.
"Because you're awesome" is a cute and easy answer, but it wasn't enough and she knew it. She isn't stupid. So she repeated her caveat to all who would listen.
We thought, naively perhaps, that what was newsworthy was the obsolescence of The Gamer Demographic; not by Grandma, but by the thousands of gamers who obstinately stand outside the marketing targets which were so carefully perpetuated.
And Grandma wasn't the first. Doris Self was a far better gamer. Middle-aged men played Counterstrike in offices. Colleges had Quake tournaments. And then there was the rest of us, who started with Atari and Nintendo when we were kids and never stopped as we got older.
The myth had been dead for awhile.
So the story of The Big Fish Babes is a happy one, an inevitable one. And not at all as unusual and weird as the Today producers decided to make it. They were portrayed as a Hugh Wilson montage of Old Women Find Friendship. They deserved better than that.
But while it peeved Grandma to see clueless reporters repeating the stupid myth with these kind, cool women as a backdrop, and oh boy was she peeved ("Thirteen year olds? Seriously?"), it wasn't what pissed her off.
"There's all these people pissed off at Kotaku because they think they're making fun of these women, and they don't get it. They think he's saying "look at these fat assholes trying to say they're gamers" and that's not what the fuck he's talking about.
And THEN you have people who ARE basically saying these people are ugly and stupid, in agreement with something nobody said in the first place!
First of all: who gives a shit if they only play casual games. I think that counts. I play Sudoku too, assholes. Why is it that these people think I'm cool but these women are stupid? It's the same shit. They like that game, I like different games- they're still games. You want them to play Call of Duty? Show them how to do it. Maybe they'll like it, maybe they won't. What's the difference. If somebody came up to me and said "Oh, I play this puzzle game thing online" I'd tell them "oh hey! I'm a gamer too! That's cool!" Maybe we'd be friends! How else would you know? They don't see themselves as gamers because of people like you who won't let them.
But what kills me are these people laughing at the way they look. I'm old and fat too, but nobody gave me shit about it. Sometimes somebody on Youtube calls me an old bitch, but pretty much everybody else has been so cool. You know? Don't ruin that by laughing at these women. NBC made the story corny, not them. They're just like any of us.
Kotaku wasn't making fun of them. YOU were.
Then Grandma showed me this video, posted in the comments section by someone who I'm pretty sure has opinions that mirror Grandma's:
"The worst part is, there is nothing I can even say to counter these people. They have their minds made up. They think video games are for kids. And if video games are only for kids, then they should be made for kids. And if video games are made for kids, they shouldn't have any violence or vulgarity. So, if video games contain violence or vulgarity, they're bad. Because of kids.
They just want to hear themselves talk.
This makes me so goddamn angry, you don't even know.
This guy is right there next to her SAYING that adults play these games. But she doesn't listen. She doesn't care. "Oh, the kids are going to play them anyway..." How can someone... I don't know.. so confidently have an opinion about something they admit to knowing so little about?
She had no idea that games have a ratings system. But she goes RIGHT ON TALKING as though it were meaningless.
It's like Monty Python. "Yes they do", "no they don't", "yes they did", "no they don't.." It's fucking annoying.
I would never want to be on a panel like that. There is nothing you can say. They aren't listening. All you can do is ask questions and let them dig themselves into a hole. They like to talk, right? Let them talk.
Ask them this: "Do you think video games are for children? How have you come to that conclusion?"
Ask them how old THEY think the average gamer is. Don't bring up this study or that study, just ask them. Watch them pretend like they know what they're talking about.
Ask them what the last game they played was.
Ask them if they liked it.
Ask them what would have made the game better, for THEM. Not for their kids. What would THEY like. Talk to THEM like they are gamers. Force them to.. you know, see themselves that way.
Then all of a sudden they turn from black and white to color like in Pleasantville, everybody skips away and talks about more important shit.
Grandma doesn't tell me to publish her rants on the blog very often, so I figured I'd better do it or she'd hit me :)