Elitism is an ever-present issue ingrained in our communities, and gaming communities are no exception. In fact, they are exceptionally bad for it. Within gaming communities I have witnessed and experienced various types of elitism. And while it’s impossible to cover the true depth of the issue with a single article, I hope this at least sheds some light on it. And perhaps causes people to reflect a little bit about their mindset while gaming.
Gendered elitism (sexism)
In gaming communities there’s a common idea that women can’t be as good at video games as men. Some people believe women just don’t game, which can lead to some draining reactions when you’re a woman in gaming.
In online games women will face comments like “we lost because we had a girl,” or “girls can’t play DPS, play support.” And don’t forget my favourite, the very back handed “you’re really good for a girl.” The implications of these are that women just aren’t good at games, and that is a baseless assumption.
Setup elitism (socioeconomics)
When I say set up elitism what I mean is the idea that gamers have to have all the peripherals. It’s an idea commonly found in PC gaming communities, but it’s not exclusive to them. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve got a sick rig full of colour coordinated RGB and whatnot that’s awesome! But it doesn’t make you any better than someone who doesn’t.
Insane set ups aren’t cheap, and they just aren’t practical for everyone. Despite that fact people face comments like “you need a mechanical keyboard to be a gamer,” or “you need a gaming mouse.” These kinds of comments imply that to be a gamer you need all the gadgets which is untrue. If what you have works for you and you’re happy with it, why change it?
Hardcore gamer elitism
Of course everyone has heard the term “filthy casual,” I’ve even used it to describe myself a couple times. And while plenty of people mean it in a joking manner, it doesn’t stop it from being a true mindset for many. There are many people out there (I’m looking at you Reddit forums) who think the types of games someone plays determines someone’s status as a gamer.
It’s this idea that if someone isn’t a hardcore gamer their status as a gamer isn’t as valid. Hardcore gamers can generally be described as someone with vast knowledge and high playtimes, often playing games such as MOBAs, FPS and MMORPGs. But not everyone has time to sink four or five hours a day into a game, or learn every detail about it. Casual and core gamers are valid as gamers.
There are everlasting console wars between PlayStation and Xbox fans. But that isn’t the only area where platform elitism can be found. Many PC gamers feel they are better than console players. They make comments such as “if they’re on console they must suck,” or “I can’t believe I’m losing to a console player.”
Then there’s the divide between mobile gamers and other platforms. People seem to think mobile gamers are not gamers, or less of gamers. That it’s not a viable type of gaming, but that doesn’t even make sense. And it leads me to my conclusion.
True gamer mindset
Three of the four things I’ve mentioned tie back to the idea of a “true gamer.” People have an idea in their head about what a true gamer looks like, and anyone who isn’t that is lesser than them. And it’s this mindset that keeps so many people out of gaming.
I’ve had several friends come up to me and say “I want to get into games, but the community is scary,” and I can’t blame them. New players are often a target for this “true gamer mindset,” and get bullied out. I even get veteran gamers talking to me about how toxic and exclusive gaming can be.
I understand being competitive, I myself am a highly competitive person in all aspects of my life, but being competitive isn’t an excuse for elitism. And I understand being frustrated at new players, I would be lying if I said that I don’t find myself annoyed sometimes. But if that’s the case, help them out, don’t call them a slur and tell them to uninstall. Give genuine, kindly worded suggestions.
Because here’s the thing, anyone who games is a true gamer. There is no standard. Even while writing this I found people were asking on Reddit and other forums things such as “what makes someone a gamer?” The answer? Play games.
They can be tabletops, RPGs, FPS, mobile, PC, anything. A gamer, by definition, is someone who plays games. So throw out the “true gamer mindset,” and just let people game. No gatekeeping, no shaming, no harassing, just game and let game.
Have you experienced any of these in your games? Let us know in the comments below. And while you’re here why not check out other barriers in gaming!
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