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Nerd Rage and Assumptions

Posted on 2011.03.25 at 19:06
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Wow...I saw this on a gaming forum and just...wow. I know nothing about the game, but what was posted on the forum was just...someone at his worst. Some guy posted there complaining of getting hit on by another guy and how the game developers should cater specifically to the "straight male gamer." Being a female you can guess what I think about that. One of the developers responded and quite flatly put the complainer in his place.

He explained video games are for everyone and thus are designed with everyone in mind, not just a certain group. He pointed out that all the straight male gamers in the world had not voted him spokesman for them so he should stick to just claiming his own opinions rather than speaking on everyone's behalf. Then he pointed out that people in the privilege or majority often become so used to being catered to that when they are not any longer they see it as an imbalance when in reality it is the restoration of balance. So. Very. True.

I see it all the time and remember times when I had to face it myself. Times when you realized you were expecting "special" treatment instead of earning it like everyone else. Many times it is minor, you get embarrassed and move on with a slightly more accurate perspective. Sometimes you see it in the extreme where the person sees their expectations as a right rather than something to be equally achieved.

I've seen students whose parents catered to them to the point they think they are beyond the rules of the school, seen people think they are beyond needing to follow the laws everyone else follows, and I'm just thankful that I don't think I've ever made that big of a mistake. However, it even ties in to what our workshop this morning was about; that our assumptions affect our attitudes which affects our behavior.

This is something my boss has never figured out about me: I try not to assume I know what someone else is thinking/meaning/doing/etc. She flat out asked me why I take things so literally once. I responded, "Why don't you just say what you mean?" Her response was that was just how she was. She was mad at me because I wasn't assuming a situation was okay when I didn't hear any response. She was also mad at me because she had made assumptions about what I said that weren't true despite me trying to be quite clear. Had she not have made assumptions there would be no mis-communication.

I have found in my lifetime that humans are notorious of two things: 1. assuming and 2. not saying what they mean. It drives me crazy. I would say most of us at some point have not been honest with ourselves, but I see a lot of people who are in denial it feels like. If they can't even be honest with themselves they definitely aren't with others. It's one reason I choose to live my life being as honest as I can. I say what I mean and I mean what I say, and if there is confusion I want to clear it up immediately. Second, dear boss, I choose to assume as little as possible for me to stay sane in dealing with someone like you. Whether you like it or not, I don't read your mind. So if you don't say what you mean that is your fault for misinforming me. There is only person I seem to be able to communicate so clearly with it's kind of scary and it isn't you.

Someone in my guild rage quit the other night after proclaiming all the things he does that goes unrecognized. What he said was that he was the only one who did anything, and that he did everything, that we were holding him back. It was stupid first because it's a game and not real life, and second because he was discrediting all the work others have done or any of the times we have thanked him or helped him. He felt he deserved something special for doing what everyone else was doing also and when the GM (who happens to be my brother) didn't give him that he quit.

Linking back to the forum, my boss frequently assumes things of others and becomes angry when she perceives the "imbalance." Whether it's knowing what she really means or her expectations of me as an employee her assumptions get in the way of truly seeing anything that is going on in front of her nose. The guy who left thought there was an imbalance because he wasn't getting "special" treatment, but was being treated the same as everyone else. The thing is, as I think may often be the case, I don't think she, the ex-guild player, or this guy on the forum realize how close-minded and utterly self-centered they are. Sad really...Link to the post behind the cut below.

forum website: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/304/index/6661775&lf=8

The romances in the game are not for "the straight male gamer". They're for everyone. We have a lot of fans, many of whom are neither straight nor male, and they deserve no less attention. We have good numbers, after all, on the number of people who actually used similar sorts of content in DAO and thus don't need to resort to anecdotal evidence to support our idea that their numbers are not insignificant... and that's ignoring the idea that they don't have just as much right to play the kind of game they wish as anyone else. The "rights" of anyone with regards to a game are murky at best, but anyone who takes that stance must apply it equally to both the minority as well as the majority. The majority has no inherent "right" to get more options than anyone else.

More than that, I would question anyone deciding they speak for "the straight male gamer" just as much as someone claiming they speak for "all RPG fans", "all female fans" or even "all gay fans". You don't. If you wish to express your personal desires, then do so. I have no doubt that any opinion expressed on these forums is shared by many others, but since none of them have elected a spokesperson you're better off not trying to be one. If your attempt is to convince BioWare developers, I can tell you that you do in fact make your opinion less convincing by doing so.

And if there is any doubt why such an opinion might be met with hostility, it has to do with privilege. You can write it off as "political correctness" if you wish, but the truth is that privilege always lies with the majority. They're so used to being catered to that they see the lack of catering as an imbalance. They don't see anything wrong with having things set up to suit them, what's everyone's fuss all about? That's the way it should be, any everyone else should be used to not getting what they want.

The truth is that making a romance available for both genders is far less costly than creating an entirely new one. Does it create some issues of implementation? Sure-- but anything you try on this front is going to have its issues, and inevitably you'll always leave someone out in the cold. In this case, are all straight males left out in the cold? Not at all. There are romances available for them just the same as anyone else. Not all straight males require that their content be exclusive, after all, and you can see that even on this thread.

Would I do it again? I don't know. I doubt I would have Anders make the first move again-- at the time, I thought that requiring all romances to have Hawke initiate everything was the unrealistic part. Even if someone decides that this makes everyone "unrealistically" bisexual, however, or they can't handle the idea that the character might be bisexual if they were another PC... I don't see that as a big concern, to be honest. Romances are never one-size-fits-all, and even for those who don't mind the sexuality issue there's no guarantee they'll find a character they even want to romance. That's why romances are optional content. It's such a personal issue that we'll never be able to please everyone. The very best we can do is give everyone a little bit of choice, and that's what we tried here.

And the person who says that the only way to please them is to restrict options for others is, if you ask me, the one who deserves it least. And that's my opinion, expressed as politely as possible.

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