Why do these exist? Who is buying them? Is this like how when I was six years old I once whispered to myself alone in the wilderness that I liked turtles and then for the next fifteen years I would receive at least ten turtle-themed gifts every holiday? There are too many questions for one person to answer.
The worst of Prime Day is here to reinforce gamers as antisocial maladjusted children and hawk shirts. Video games are a wonderful hobby: a medium of art that can empower the powerless, give voice to the voiceless, and create emergent narratives impossible in any other space. But sometimes it’s easy to forget briefly that video games are not just a business, they’re big business in a capitalist world that thrives on stereotypes and easily digested soundbites.
Being a fan of video games isn’t what it was once perceived as. Video games are deeply embedded into culture in most of the world. Generation X grew up with everything from Space Invader to Mario and that generation is breaking their 50’s now. But yes, advertisers, gamers are an endangered species. All us gamers are giant babies who dwell in cave-like parents basements being drip-fed energy drinks and Doritos. Gamers don’t know how to talk to others, since they never do that in video games.
When I think of gamers, I think of how a perfectly lovely woman in her 80’s found success streaming her gameplay of Skyrim and will now get to be immortalized in the next Elder Scrolls. A perfect example of how your average gamer is any age, any type, any orientation, any ethnicity. Nothing like a tired stereotype.
And then, I remember how people like Steven Spohn (opens in new tab) work tirelessly with charities like AbleGamers (opens in new tab) to expand the accessibility of this medium we all love. Reaching out to other people in this massive art form and hobby and connecting them with others to share knowledge and combat everyday challenges.
Or my mind turns to thoughts of the people working together in Minecraft to provide a safe Minecraft server for gamers with autism (opens in new tab). A game server providing people on the autism spectrum a space to learn, play, socialize, and work together that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
But I also come to think of the speedrunning community – in their strange and magnetic combination of competitive and collaborative – who started a little livestreamed event called GamesDoneQuick (opens in new tab) back in 2010. An event that now fires off twice a year to raise money for Doctors Without Borders and the Prevent Cancer Foundation to the tune of over $3 million a pop.
But hey, buy some stupid shirts. What do I know?