So, when I wrote my anime gatekeeping essay, I was actually attempting to write about gatekeeping in the games community. But, I ended up running super long with the intro and rather than writing a ridiculously long post on gatekeeping, I decided to split the difference and write two separate posts. However, don’t get it twisted, gatekeeping in the gaming community is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a VERY long time, I just wanted to be sure that when I finally penned this post, that I didn’t devolve into incoherent ranting. I try to keep things classy here.
So, for those of you that don’t know, “gatekeeping” is what happens when elitism, entitlement, and privilege are allowed to run unchecked, resulting in a select group of individuals taking it upon themselves to preserve the sanctity of a particular “thing” by regulating what is and isn’t acceptable. Like bouncers who keep unwanted individuals from entering an establishment, gatekeepers act as the buffer between true fans of a medium and the uninformed masses. Gatekeepers see themselves as true fans, working tirelessly to ensure that the sanctity of their media isn’t tarnished by those they deem unworthy. The problem is that these individuals take things to the extreme, devaluing anyone and anything that doesn’t align with their “vision” of what a true fan should be… and it is this behavior that creates a lot of unnecessary negativity.
The gaming community is known for being especially toxic, particularly if you are not a straight white male (noticing a theme here?). Time and time again we hear reports of female and BIPOC gamers being mistreated, devalued, and outright shunned in some gaming circles, which is something that I have experienced first hand. I explained in my gatekeeping post that there is a sort of fandom litmus test that is used to measure your “legitimacy” and trust there is one in the gaming community as well. When I say that I like games, I am immediately asked to list off the names of games I’ve played in what I like to call the “interrogation” phase of the test. This is when the other person feels you out to see if you really have the pedigree to backup your claims. Unfortunately, I almost always fail this test, because I am one of those casuals who only play visual novels and *gasp* otome games!
Oh, for those of you that were unaware, yes I play otome games—welcome to Blerdy Otome, kindly tell how you stumbled upon my fangirl shrine. I mean, seriously, it’s not like I hide my love of otome games (just ask my IRL friends, they’ll tell you about my hour long otome lectures). To many of you, I’m merely stating the obvious, but, I feel that I have to actually say it out loud because there is this notion that otome games aren’t real games and by extension, otome game players aren’t REAL gamers.
Sure you’re not going on long campaigns or slashing through hordes of the undead in an otome game, and yes, otome games trade in a bit of the action you find in most triple-A games for reading—but contrary to popular belief otome games are real games. And yes, otome game players are real gamers.
Personally, I favor story based visual novels and romance themed games, but that is more of a preference than a hard and fast rule. I have played a few platformers and RPGs (with varying degrees of success) and I have a soft spot for fighting games like Tekken. But, the majority of the games I play are either otome games or visual novels and for many that plants my flag squarely in casual gamer territory.
I’ve had folks remark that I’m not a REAL gamer—Hell, I’ve had to DEFEND my love of otome games on more than one occasion and you know what that’s just not fair. I will admit that otome games are a niche genre, and while more and more games are making their way stateside, the fact of the matter is otome games are pretty far removed from the mainstream gaming community—most folks don’t even know they exist or they do know they exist and have made it their life’s mission to troll anything even remotely related to otome games or the fandom.
And a lot of that comes from the rampant misogyny at the very heart of the gaming community—because, why on earth should women be allowed to enjoy games… but, that is an argument for another day. Rather, I am frustrated at the fact that I have to even say out loud that I am a gamer, it should be a given. I run a review site, so I play way more games than the average person, but because I don’t play the “right” games I am somehow less of a gamer than say the dude holed up in his man cave playing League of Legends.
Otome gamers go HARD for the fandom (just ask an otome gamer who their best boy is, I’ll wait) and to have uninformed assholes dismiss us as non-gamers is disrespectful. I have actually seen folks trolling otome game release posts online with comments like “oh not another one of these games” or “how about a real game next time” and that is simply toxic and disgusting. The otome fandom only gets a handful of games each year and to constantly have to defend ourselves against neckbeards with way too much time on their hands is frustrating.
There have been times when I have had to explain to clerks at game shops what an otome game is… and the looks I get sometimes speak volumes! But, I don’t complain, no I simply explain what otome games are and if a person seems interested, I recommend a handful of titles for them to try out. If they’re not interested, I smile and shift the topic to something else. No harm. No foul. The thing I take issue with are the folks who say that otome gamers aren’t real gamers, because it completely undermines the hard work and effort that goes not just into playing these games, but into actually making them! Otome games are real games and otome game players are REAL gamers!
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