Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Gray Gamers

This is a very interesting article on the subject of senior citizens who play video games.

I'm not much of a gamer - I haven't spent much time with a video game since I beat The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask almost ten years ago. I have lots of friends who are into gaming, though, I enjoy watching gameplay videos on YouTube (ProtonJon is awesome), and the gaming subculture is pretty much ubiquitous online so it's not like it's a foreign concept to me.

Anyway, one of the things that bothers me about the gaming subculture is the constant undertones (and overtones...) of ageism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and general smallmindedness. There's an assumption among a lot of gamers that the only demographic that matters is the 18-to-25-year-old straight males and that anyone who doesn't fit in there has to identify has a "girl gamer", a "gay gamer", and so on. Games that are marketed specifically towards women are insulting in how stereotyped they are. When games include strong female characters who aren't eye candy, male gamers complain about the lack of T&A; if a game ever included a strong gay character, there'd be rioting in the streets over "the fags" ruining "our video games"; and as of today the only transgendered video game character I'm aware of is Birdo.

It's good to know that there's a place for senior gamers - according to the article, 19% of gamers are 50 or older, and that was in 2005. It's proof that games aren't a fad, but have become a legitimate, mainstream form of entertainment just like movies and sports, and as the current target demographic ages, the percentage is destined to keep growing. For my part, I look forward to the day when I can sit down with my nieces and nephews and grandkids and play some Final Fantasy XXV while waxing nostalgic about the halcyon days of A Link to the Past and Super Mario World.


myfragged said...

I have to disagree. I am a girl and a gamer, and have been both for almost whole my life ;) and haven't noticed much signs of sexism. Not more than in everyday life. I've always could play with my male friends and there wasn't any problem, they talk with me 'bout v-games as someone equal. And v-games, especially rpgs, almost always have strong and important female characters, and I haven't heard any complaining. So maybe we just have so very different experiences.

Anonymous said...

I play a certain SF MMORPG where senior gamers tend to do thier best to 'pass' as the standard 16-21 profile. While I have found that most of the college age kids I play with came at it with the attitude that everyone there is just like them, the few I have felt comfortable enough with to reveal my senority with have been cool with it. A few have treated it like leprosy, in 'if you hang with a old goat' you will start acting like one' type attitude. And then there are always plenty of jerks of all ages online, but thats another topic. For the most part I think gray gamers are pretty much in the closet these days.