Fat, lazy, nerds, three terms that are often used in reference to people who enjoy playing video games. Those are words I’ve been called on many occasions often when I just mention that I like playing video games. Popular culture, such as shows like South Park, supports the stereotype that gamers are fat and lazy. Just like with any hobby such as movie fanatics, there are those who are skinny, fat, tall and short. The hobby itself does not make one socially awkward. However, according to the majority of media, sitting in front of a computer screen for games makes you a different person. There are many stereotypes that sadden me, the very common ‘Girl Gamer’ stereotype is among them, essentially; women who only play video games for attention. It has never made sense to me why these stereotypes exist, they often bring me a lot of sadness, not the solace and joy I find in video games.
One of those many stereotypes that I’ve found is that video gamers are violent. Granted, many games involve shooting other players or NPC’s (Non-player character). To many people who don’t understand the fun in the game, they simply think that gamers are violent. The most popular games are based around killing, such as League of Legends, World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. An article written by Seb Wuepper describes how Bioshock 2, a popular game from 2010, has a great story line but puts off the public because of the gore. To many people, especially those who don’t play games, Bioshock 2 may just seem like a bloody onslaught while it actually has a great storyline. Wuepper believes that if there is less gore, or the games are less horrifying that media won’t keep portraying video games as evil. While I understand why Wuepper might think that gore is the reason for many problems video gamers, there are plenty of movies that have endless amounts of gore and are critically acclaimed. Think of the movie Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino, an extremely gory movie. It was loved by movie goers and critics alike, receiving an 88% on rotten tomatoes. So why should video games that have gore be shunned while movies that have gore be praised?
Along with being gore loving, video gamers are stereotypically male and do not like playing video games with women. In my experience this is far from the truth, but I know that this is a common trend. The term ‘Girl Gamer’ has negatively affected a lot of women because men have started to believe that women only think women play games for attention. In a video by Buzzfeed called If Gamer Girls Acted Like Gamer Guys they reverse the stereotypes in order to amplify them. They show how poorly women are treated which is horrible when it does happen. For the most part, the simple fact is that most men don’t care whether it’s a man or women playing video games with them. It’s unfortunate that the perceived notion is that most men are always mean to women who play games and that women only play games for attention.
When it comes to girlfriends who play video games, it doesn’t seem like media believes that it’s an acceptable norm. In the Big Bang Theory, a popular sitcom, the men of the group love playing video games. In an episode titled The Weekend Vortex, we see the four guys of the show planning a weekend marathon for a new Star Wars video game. When the girlfriends of the guys ask them to do other things they refuse. Only one of the three who have girlfriends allows her to join in on the marathon of fun (although she goes home later in the night). The simple fact most of my friends who have girlfriends either play video games with their girlfriends or try to get them to. Video games are something that people like to share with their girlfriends. People enjoy sharing their hobbies with the person they are in a relationship with, even when it comes to video gaming. In my personal gaming group there are two pairs of boyfriend and girlfriends who play games together. There is in no way any resentment towards women who play games and still find it mind boggling that that stereotype exists. The term ‘Girl Gamer’ and the negative stereotypes around women who play video games has negatively affected the gamer identity as a whole.
In my personal experience, most people don’t think gamers are smart, healthy or any other positive word that are used to describe attributes. In the show South Park in an episode titled, Make Love, Not Warcraft, we see the characters of the show playing a popular video game called World of Warcraft. While I have to admit, the episode was funny, it did not portray video gamers in the way I see them. South Park portrayed gamers as fat lazy nerds who ‘have no lives’. In the show, the greatest and most talented video game player is exactly what they describe video gamers as, a fat and lazy person. This is South Park’s representation of a video gamer.
When the four main characters of South Park play games for hours a day, they almost instantly become fat and extremely lazy with a great amount of acne. I know for a fact that every video gamer is not fat and lazy, there’s no evidence that they are. Video gaming is just like any other hobby. Are people who watch TV or read books instantly fat and lazy? No, because it’s not the hobby that makes you fat and lazy. The stereotype that gamers have no life makes me sad. Just because we enjoy talking to friends online and fighting our way through dungeons or building a city online, does not make us have no life.
A story written by Dan Iverson for IGN, a gaming website, shows how even gamers have accepted their fate as being labeled as fat lazy nerds who have no life. He wrote an article about the South Park episode Make Love, Not Warcraft. While he noted the comedic aspect of the show (I tend to agree, the episode was funny), he does not look at the stereotypes that the show is giving off. It basically says that if you play this game called World of Warcraft, you have no life. That would be like saying, if you play basketball for more than a three hours a day, you have no life. Imagine the retaliation that would be given if that were to be said by hundreds of movies and TV shows. But to most gamers, it’s a normal thing to be criticized. I’ve personally played World of Warcraft and I went to college at the same time. I would love for the media to stray away from criticizing gamers. What’s the evil that games are doing? Granted, some games are extremely gory and sexual but so are thousands of movies, books and TV shows. There is no great evil that video games are radiating so why all the hostility towards gamers?
There is one person on the internet agrees with me. A video on YouTube titled Gamers are fat lazy nerds! (You have to watch the video to make sense of the title), by a channel by the name of JimSauce, (I believe his actual name is Will, said at the beginning of the video) shows how a gamer much like myself distastes of the misconception around gamers and simply does not understand why gaming can be looked down at so heavily. In his story, he talks about how a teacher was telling about person who dropped out college. The teacher blames his ‘laziness’ and college failure on video games. It’s very easy to blame something randomly with your eyes closed but does it really paint a whole picture? It seems like games are becoming a scapegoat. I understand where Will is coming from because it’s frustrating to see people who seem nice despise video gamers for the sole reason that we are stereotyped to be fat and lazy. Just because you may not play video games, or even if you don’t like video games, doesn’t automatically make video games a bad thing.
It’s not just something that media is stereotyping any more, it’s most people who have never played a video game. My parents used to not like the fact that I liked playing video games for the sole reason that it took time away from my studies. I got into Portland State, the college I wanted to go to, I think I’m doing just fine even though I’m an avid gamer. One of the ways that I think works is that video gamers can show non-gamers what video gaming is really about. I once played a game called World of Tanks with my Dad. While video games weren’t for him in the long haul we had a great time bonding while playing the game. Video games are a great source of entertainment for people of any age, media needs to stray away from the idea of gamers that are fat lazy nerds who are socially awkward and have no life.
Playing video games is something I have taken a great deal of pride in for a long time, I’m competitive just like anyone who strives to play sports at a high level is. It simply hurts my brain to think of how many people have told me video games are evil machines that do nothing except corrupt your mind. Most of my best friends I’ve found over the internet because of video games. I think I’m better in certain social situations because I interact with my friends on a daily basis. I can’t imagine my life without video games and honestly wouldn’t want to even if I could. I absolutely love video games and I wish mainstream media and those who watch media could see video games in at least some of the light that I do.
GAMERS ARE FAT LAZY NERDS! YouTube, 5 Sept. 2013. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcG3790B1BM>.
If Gamer Girls Acted Like Gamer Guys. YouTube, 23 Oct. 2014. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCraeo0PPcw>.
Iverson, Dan. “South Park: “Make Love, Not Warcraft” Review.” IGN, 6 Oct. 2006. Web. <http://www.ign.com/articles/2006/10/05/south-park-make-love-not-warcraft-review>.
Loree, Chuck, Bill Prady, and Tara Hernandez. “The Weekend Vortex.” The Big Bang Theory. CBS. 8 Mar. 2012. Television.
Parker, Trey. “Make Love, Not Warcraft.” South Park. Comedy Central. 4 Oct. 2006. Television.
Wuepper, Seb. “The Outside Perspective.” The Outside Perspective. Gameranx, 21 Jan. 2012. Web. <http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/4603/article/the-outside-perspective/>.