I now understand why "gamer" is used as an insult

December/2007: Anyone that knows me knows that I've been playing video games since the original Atari. When the NES came out, my grandparents bought it as a gift for Christmas, 1986. I was seven and I still remember this. We used to do gift-giving on my mother's side of the family on Christmas Eve because I would have to go to my father's side of the family on Christmas Day, that is, until I hit the age where I could say "no mas, no mas" to that arrangement. I came back a couple days later and there were two NES systems.

My grandparents had played mine while I was gone and had gotten hooked. They had to have their own system after that.

Since then, I've played video games more days than I haven't. My grandparents turned into huge gamers as well, playing every RPG that came out for the NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis... all the way through the original Playstation and Nintendo 64. They loved video games and one of the saddest parts of their getting old and dying was watching them no longer be able to enjoy them as they once did. Fun turned into frustration as memory went away and games became more complicated. Still, they both played video games nearly until the day each of them died.

Both of them died before Perverted-Justice.com became well, what it is. Which, obviously, means they died before they could witness the media stories and learn much of the ridiculousness that comes along with those. Reporters are always looking for an angle with which to attack you, so they ask you about your hobbies a lot of the time. I've always responded that I play video games. I had no reason not to, in my mind. I've been playing them as long as I can remember and I consider it a great hobby to have. It certainly beats weekend drinking, partying and the random stupidity that most people of my age at the time made frequent practice of.

What surprised me at the time was that this fact was made into a frequent attack. "He's a gamer!" Even recently, a goofball reporter for Rolling Stone wrote a over-the-top hyperbolic article and literally, wrote the following sentence to describe me...

Rolling Stone
One of the few who know their true identities is their elusive leader, Xavier Von Erck, a twenty-eight-year-old libertarian and atheist who kills on Civilization IV.

You might think I used the italicizing for effect. I didn't. It's in the piece italicized like that. Obviously, anyone who has ever played Civilization 4 is snickering at the description right now. KILLS on Civilization 4? A person couldn't be more out of touch than writing that. When you think of a game that would satiate a "bloodlust of killing!" you wouldn't really think of Civilization 4. It's a nation-building strategy game, of all things.

Of course, that's just one example!

Random Internet Moron
Perhaps we need to begin asking whether it is acceptable for unemployed twenty-something drop-out computer-gamer cyber-vigilantes or pretend-news entertainers to hand out death sentences


Easily, I could go on and on. Since the summer of 2003 when we had our first media attention, those seeking to attack the organization via myself, the founder, have often used the fact that I play these apparently evil video games. For the last few years, I've found the entire tactic humorous. It is hard to look at it any other way, as the entire idea that Perverted-Justice.com is evil because the founder of the organization enjoys video games just happens to be one of the most absurd statements I can imagine from looking at things from a logical perspective. However, the general public often doesn't do this. For example...

Man, just look at that douchebag

The guy above is a fellow named Jack Thompson. He's a Florida "attorney" who is on a huge campaign against video games. One of his favorite targets is one of my favorite companies, Take Two Interactive, the publishers of Civilization, the NBA 2K series, etc, etc. They also publish games like Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, Bioshock, etc, all games with disturbing elements to them, admittedly. Anyways, this guy is bat-fruit-nuts-crazy. He's more certifiable than your average piece of sports memorabilia sold on QVC. He submitted pornography in an argument to a court, has staged countless publicity stunts, has settled out of court regarding a lawsuit against him and has come within a hairsbreadth of being disbarred in Florida.

Still, despite all this, Jack Thompson is regularly featured on cable news programs, his "work" has resulted in some really wonky legislation (all of which has been struck down due to the efforts of the games industry) and the guy makes crazy money going around the country to give speeches regarding the evils of video games.

I mean seriously, the guy is fucking bonkers, check out these quotes:

- "The 'video game community' (what's next, 'the necromancy community'?) surely seems exercised about someone who is a 'joke' and who is accomplishing nothing. You all seem rather bothered and worried about a nonentity. God is in this battle, and I am privileged to be a foot soldier. You all should be concerned, not about me, but about Him."
- "Any letter from a video gamer like you would deepen his concern. Are you actually so confused that you think gamers have any influence on anyone. Gamers are considered by normal people to be cretins. Get used to it."
- "Jack Thompson keeps racking up wins and you gamers just can't handle the truth. What's the truth? It is this: Adults with common sense and common decency who respect law enforcement are still running this country. Video gamers are not, and never will..."
- "I have made a choice, and it is a choice for Jesus Jesus said: "If any of you should cause any of these little ones to stumble, then it would be better for you that a millstone be tied around your neck and that you be cast into the sea." Rockstar is marketing adult murder simulators to kids. You are an apologist for that molestation. You're the one who needs to square his actions with the Bible, not I. I'm the one winning cases in the Bible Belt, not you. Please go to Hell more quietly. Thanks."
- "Actually, I'm succeeding and you're not. We're moving toward the trial in Alabama, and Rockstar is on the ropes. You and Xenu can go to Hell."

While I'm no fan of ol' Xenu myself, the guy is bats in the mental belfry. However, because he's more cracked up than Courtney Love hanging out with Kate Moss, the media loves to put him on television. And of course, he goes on there and says crazy alarmist things that make great soundbites to scare the crap out of people who don't know any better. You go down the line a bit and tragedy-chasers like ol' Thompson create such a stigma about gamers that reporters then use that stupidity to attack me, because I dare to play video games and run an anti-pedophile organization.

From my own experiences doing cable news interviews, guys like Thompson are what they die for. I've had a producer in my ear during one show excoriating me to tear into another guest because they needed "more passion, more fire!" for the interview. I've had times when producers I've done interviews with in the past would contact me about related stories and ask me questions, gauging to see if I'll say something fiery. If you don't, you don't get booked to do the interview. That's how little crazy people like Thompson get interviews... by being unreasonable, crazy and frothing, he (justifiably) in the minds of producers will keep a viewer watching. Producers are right about that, there's nothing that the public in general hates more than a reasoned discussion.

But is that it? Are toadies like that goof the entire reason why people who wish to attack me feel that they have a free hand with the "gamer" slur? Sadly, after much deliberation over it the last couple of years, no.

Gamers are also to blame, themselves.
As much as I'd like to, you can't just blame goofs like Thompson for the word "gamer" being demonized in many people's minds. You also have to blame... well, gamers. With the internet, gamers have banded together and created a "gaming culture." Over the last couple years of reading Joystiq, Kotaku and other blogs, I've come to know it all too well. There's a myriad of aspects to it that make it condemnable.

Anime and Japanese culture - Loads of gamers are into anime along with anything and everything in Japanese culture. Unfortunately, many gamers are into all the dark sides of Japanese culture. Tentacle rape, drawn child pornography they call "lolicon", and all sorts of other crap. The gamer blog Kotaku is the worst of this, as they have a contributor that lives in Japan and feeds the garbage by covering everything and anything under the sun regarding the worst of Japanese culture. From Japanese games such as rape simulators to peripherals designed to be vibrators, the Japanese have "classy" scrawled out of their dictionaries when it comes to gaming.

Rape - Even innocuous posts on Kotaku, such as one post where they showed a picture of a sleeping Japanese "booth babe", elicit a disturbing reaction. The commentors immediately started in talking about how she made a good target for rape. Yeah, literally. Morons. A large subsection of gamers think rape is great. Sounds like hyperbole, I know, but the amount of positive rape comments disguised as "jokes" really illustrate why date rape is at epidemic levels. So glad I'm male... as I feel so bad for females trying to find someone suitable to date in this modern age.

Racism - I've been on XBox Live since it launched. It is, without a doubt, the scummiest cesspool you can imagine. I've been called the N word more times on there than I can count. Not "nigga", but with the "er." I'd just type the whole thing out but I'm sure some dipshit would then probably state that I throw around that word on my blog in an attempt to smear me. It's a common insult on XBox Live, you're bound to hear it in any game you play from other players. You'd probably think that it's stupid moron teens that throw it around, and you'd be right... but you'd be wrong to think it's exclusively them. Players who are obviously in their twenties, thirties, etc, toss it around liberally. But it's not just racism against black people, it's every kind of hickery you can imagine. Hatred towards Mexicans, the French, the British, the Germans... hell, you name a nationality and I've heard someone on XBox Live use a racial slur regarding it. Oh, yeah, anti-semitism is rampant as well, don't let me forget.

Hatred of females in general - There's nothing more embarrassing than trying to play a game on XBox Live with your significant other. Playing Rainbox Six: Vegas with my wife, for example, was pretty excruciating. I was trying to get her into playing more first person shooters as playing them online is quite fun... except for the fact that 80-90% of other gamers basically hate females. Their conversations about their "love lives" usually pour contempt towards women. Whenever we play now, I just play in private voice chat with her. That way we don't have to hear the idiots with their idiotic conversations but we also don't have to deal with morons on XBox Live hating my wife because she's a female.

Drug use - Every other gamertag I've played against online are pot references. The amount of conversations I've had to endure listening to two morons who don't know each other "bond" over the fact that they both ~gasp!~ people who smoke pot. I'm not morally against people smoking pot and I think all drugs should be legalized, but as a non-druggie, there's nothing more boring than hearing two druggies get all friendly because OMG POTASAURUS! Fucking boring people.

Webcomics - One of the more noxious aspects of "gamer culture" are webcomics. Webcomics are quite much like the "Sunday Comics" you're used to in the newspaper. With the success of gaming webcomic "Penny Arcade", every other gamer in America decided to go make a shitty website with a shitty webcomic detailing "gamer culture." Of course, the vast majority of them are sexist, racist, anti-homosexual, dumb and most sinful of all, unfunny. Oh, and did I mention a lot of them tread into pedophilia? There's a great blog called "Your webcomic is bad and you should feel bad that breaks down these crappy examples of gamer culture intellectually, something most gamers don't have any ability to do. Hell, reading it was the entire reason I wrote this blog and the reason I've come to understand how "gamer" is an insult to begin with.

Gamer Kids - I'm 28 years old. I don't like children. I don't like being around them. I don't like hearing them. As much as I don't like kids, I really, really, really don't like gaming kids. It's another negative of XBox Live. As good as Microsoft is about parental controls and building a great online interface, they suck ass when it comes to identifying exactly who you don't want to be around. For me, I don't want to be around kids. They have the online service denote who are kids, teens and adults in order to set up various permissions and try to keep kids on XBox Live safe. I appreciate that. What I would appreciate even more is an option for me to select so I can then only play with other adults. Segregating the kids from the adults is what I advocate and not to "save the kids" from adults (Microsoft does a good job in general of doing all they can) but rather to save me from having to hear them scream and yell. I've heard kids curse at their parents, siblings, friends, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. They're dumb, they absorb the worst of gaming culture like a giant garbage disposal.

Hatred of gays - If they're not calling you the big 'N' word out of racism, they're calling you a gay, a "queer", a "faggot", etc. Think of it as one giant male locker room, say football. Just worse, because there's no coach around to kick someone in the ass for being a giant douchebag. While the racism bothered me more as I had naively believed it mostly a dead issue in this country (At least, in the Northern United States), the amount of gay-bashing was slightly more than I expected. If that sounds like a compliment towards gamers, it's not... I expected a fucking lot of it to begin with.

At the end of the day, gamers are to blame. Even moreso than guys like Jack Thompson, gamers themselves have illustrated exactly why people like me have to deal with nutty reporters calling me names because I'm an "open" gamer. I simply wished I had taken a clearer look at the gaming community before I dared to expose the fact that I play game series such as Civilization, Halo, NBA2K, and uh... everything else I can get Gamefly to ship me.

So my advice to anyone reading is pretty simple. If you're going to embark on a career that involves anything relating to the public eye, avoid noting that you play video games because more than likely, you as well will end up described hilariously as someone who gets a murder lust on from playing world building simulations... and worse, associated by the public as being like the vast majority of gamers people encounter.

The problem isn't the stereotyping of gamers by non-gamers. It's the gamers themselves.