Girl in the Machine
Friday, May 30, 2008
Video Games: They're Coming for Your Man


If there's one thing we're all aware of, it's how much the media hates video games. Sure, there is the occasional praise-worthy article, but these are merely small islands in a vast ocean of disdain. The media has portrayed video games as mind-rotting, youth-corrupting harbingers of the apocalypse, which I've covered in some detail in the past, but there is another threat that video games pose to humanity; yes, one that targets the very fiber of our being.

Video games tear relationships apart.

Do a simple Google search of the keywords "video games relationship," and you'll be faced with a wall of links deploring how the hubby won't get off the X-Box and ways to rescue him from the dark clutches of those "stupid games." Link after link, websites spread the tale of soul-sucking consoles and how, if you don't watch out, your husband will be next, chickie. Video games are the reason you can't spend time with your significant other, and it is your job to save him.

As with the old Harbingers of the Apocalypse deal, video games are nothing more than the most recent scapegoat in a long history of excuses--in this case, for poor relationships (see also: sporting events, other "male-centric" hobbies). Never is it that the husband must take responsibility for his neglect; rather, it's solely up to the wife to save him in some way and reunite the couple, whether it's seduction, force, or a healthy dose of If You Can't Beat 'em, Join 'em. After all, those poor men don't realize what they're doing, right? They should be taken care of.

Which: no. Hubby knows exactly what he's doing, just like when he spends all night at the bar or with his friends. The relationship is not faring well, and he's wanting out. If he doesn't want to stick around and make an effort himself to spent time with you, then it's time you jumped ship too.

This is exactly why Rachel Shukart's article at Salon.com is so very hard to read. The article depicts how Shukart's marriage has reached the darkest depths of despair--thanks in large part to her husband's love of video games. After her attempts to get his attention fail (which include screaming at and flashing him), there seems to be no hope to reconcile their relationship until Rock Band enters the scene. She plays it with him, and bam! Relationship all better.

"But Plasma!" you say, "you just spent three paragraphs saying the media blames video games for tearing people apart! Rock Band brought them together!" Yes, niggling voice, Shukart does thank Rock Band for saving her marriage. So what's the problem? Shukart joined her husband in an activity that he enjoys, rather than the both of them choosing a separate activity they both would. Granted, she did starting liking Rock Band when she played it, but women in our society are so often encouraged to get interested in their husband's hobbies rather than vice versa--or, heaven forbid, find something they both like. What's more, Rock Band can only be a bandage over the real relationship problems they're having, and without any active work from both of them, it's only a matter of time before they're fighting over the instrument controllers in divorce court.

I understand that a lot of this article was probably exaggerated for humor, but, and this may just be me, that tactic only works when the end result is funny. The end result in this article however, was a grand cornucopia of stereotypes--desperate, nagging woman reconciles relationship with slovenly man-child by chilling out and doing what he enjoys. And that leaves one hell of a bad taste in my mouth.

Plenty of feminist blogs have covered this article and why it rubs them the wrong way, too. Read what they have to say at Feministe, Feminist Gamers, and Pandagon. Each blog provides some great analysis, so check them out!

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 Posted by PlasmaRit
 3:53 PM + Link to this post
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