GameStop Tour Guide

by Kelsey Gallote 

GameStop is a fucking jungle. Not necessarily that it is humid and green, more that it is claustrophobic and absolutely wild. Instead of skyscraping trees, there are walls lined to the ceiling with cases. Instead of moss, there is merchandise growing on every surface. Instead of rivers, there are poorly-construed aisles. But, just the same as the jungle, there are many animals.

            There are many species to find in a GameStop. Among the most common are the Dude Bro and the Inaudible Nerd. The Dude Bro is known for coming in about once a year to pick up his new sports game. He “doesn’t really game” but enjoys playing FIFA with his friends whenever he remembers he owns it. The Inaudible Nerd is in once a week, occasionally buying a game you didn’t even know existed, then scurrying out the door, tail between his legs. Other common creatures include the Anime Enthusiast, the Exhausted Dad, and the Child-Who-Thinks-He-Should-Play-Grand Theft Auto- Even-Though-He-Absolutely-Should-Not.

            Unfortunately, another common species of this dangerous wilderness is the Misogynistic Nice-Guy. These are the male customers who wander in every so often, and, whenever they see a female specimen working, they are compelled to ask the worst questions or give unwanted comments. Things such as “do you actually play games?” and “would you like my phone number?” A frequent misconception of the Jungle is that one of the rarest breeds of the forest is the Gamer Girl. The Nice-Guy likes to perpetuate the idea that women are not gamers. Or, not even people at all. These are the so-called men who complain all day that they don’t have a girlfriend, but when they go home and play World of Warcraft only to find out a girl is playing too, they tell her to return to the kitchen or show them her boobs. Think this sounds over-exaggerated? It happened to me. I was thirteen.

            Ever since gaming became an ordinary pastime, people have somehow assumed that it was only men partaking in it. This is simply untrue. The onset of gaming did not intentionally exclude women, but the industry did move in that direction. Women have always been gaming. Even if the depictions of gaming have almost never included us (especially not fairly), we have been here, we’ve always been here, and we always will be. However, due to the massive amount of sexual harassment and bullying women endure in the community, they have closeted themselves. Now, women masquerade as men online in the gaming world so as to avoid persecution and actually enjoy their hobby. I’ll receive messages referring to me in male terms and, where I used to correct people in order to stand up for my gender, now I just roll with it. Instead of correcting people when they call us “dude” or “bro,” we now respond in similar masculine vernacular. This turns into a vicious cycle, and quickly. Since women do not present themselves as women, men continue to believe that women are not part of the gaming community and are not taught to accept women into part of that schema.

            However, even when women are brave enough to be open about their gender in the gaming community, they are met with unbearable hostility online. I have yet to actually witness such sexism in real life in regards to the utter nonsense men spew at female gamers. Slowly, women began to emerge in the gaming world despite the hardships inherent to doing so. Alas, in 2014, there was a movement called GamerGate that was just about harassing women in the gaming community with rape and death threats. The onslaught of harassment essentially halted any progress that had been made for women in the industry. The movement was really frightening for many women, even those who weren’t originally involved with the journalism debate that started it. Really, GamerGate began with a slight upset in the news that a female gaming journalist may have been sleeping with a man to gain an advantage. The women of the community were outraged by this accusation, and a brutal war broke out online. Brianna Wu, a game developer, just made a comment about the movement noting how it was dominated by men. She was receiving threats the next day; she was then stalked and photographed. Years later, she’s running for Congress and stated that it’s easier to be a female Congressional candidate than a woman in the gaming industry.

            Very slowly, gaming companies are making progress in incorporating women into games in a more realistic sense, rather than the hypersexualized model we see in the majority of games. I sincerely hope that as this continues, and that as more women enter the industry, men will begin to synthesize the idea of women and gaming, eventually leading to the simple idea that a woman can be a woman in gaming society. Someday, I hope to be able to enter the Jungle without my fighting gear and practical armor. Someday, I hope to enter the Jungle as just another species without being hunted.