A new report has emerged that has found people strongly self-identify as gamers and make it a big part of the sense of self are more prone to racism and sexism. We aren't talking about all people who play video games, or even people who play violent games, just those that choose to call themselves capital G Gamers.
As reported by Vice (via VGC), this recent study has found evidence of what every woman and minority has been saying for decades: gamers can be pretty toxic. The study has determined that this is the result of identity fusion, a phenomenon that describes a group or cause becoming a large part of someone's personal life.
According to the study, identity fusion is more extreme than simply enjoying something. It occurs when that enjoyment is an intrinsic part of your being, so much so that you're more likely to defend the thing you like to violent extremes and at great personal cost. It happens a lot within sports communities, the armed services, and the police.
The results of this report aren't surprising if you pay attention to the video game industry at large. Big name esports figures and streamers are frequently outed for misogynistic and racist behaviour, and the United States Department of Homeland Security has funded a grant to study the radicalisation in gaming communities.
Think about the kind of person who obsessively plays a game and lashes out whenever someone from outside the community dares to criticise it. Do you have a friend who plays a lot of League of Legends or Halo or CoD and rants and raves about every slight change to the game or hates any criticism of it? What about people who angrily tweet at reviewers that they're wrong about a score, even when they haven't played the game themselves yet, they've just bought into the hype? That's the type of gamer this report is discussing.
If you've read this far and you're thinking, "Damn, I know a few people like this who definitely need to log off every now and then and chill out a bit," fantastic, you're not the problem. If you're sat there frothing at the mouth, looking for my Twitter profile (linked in my author bio, by the way) so you can send me an angry DM about how you aren't racist or sexist and it's bullshit to even suggest real gamers are, then this report is about you, specifically.
This news shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been playing video games online for a long time. The frequent retort of "you wouldn't have survived a Modern Warfare 2 lobby," worn like its some badge of honour that a lot of people were homophobic shitbags to strangers online says all you need to know about the kind of gamers the report is describing.
The Vice article notes that even the term "gamer" has various meanings. Some label themselves because they believe themselves to be true gamers, not wimps who play girl games like Animal Crossing or Sims, while others (like myself) reject the label at all costs. I'm not a gamer, I'm a person who plays games.
You can read the full study here for free.
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