Don’t hate the gamer, baby – hate the game

Apparently, there really is such as thing as a born gamer. It’s called a man.

Gaming is hardwired into the male gender. So it would seem after reading about a Stanford University School of Medicine study that found guys become addicted to computer and video games more easily than the fairer sex do.

xboxheadsetsmall.jpgWell, I don’t need a study to tell me that. The ancient male tradition known as trash talk is proof of our gaming destiny. Witness the battle cries of the male gamer: “w00t!” “You’re going down, dwarf!” “Booyeah!” “Just one more level!”

You get the idea.

Why do you think most cooperative games today are played online with headsets? It’s all about the trash talk. Without it, it’s not the same experience, not by a longshot. And it’s a guy thing.

Brain analysis showed that men were much more motivated than women to pursue success in games. It has something to do with the part of the brain that generates feelings of reward: playing video games stimulates this region more in men than in women.

“These gender differences may help explain why males are more attracted to, and more likely to become ‘hooked’ on video games than females,” the researchers wrote.

It’s worth noting that the game in the study involved balls and defending territory. Read into that what you will.

But before women start hailing these factors as proof of barbarism or immaturity or an inherent flaw in the Y chromosome, let’s review some of their own, less enlightened, addictions.

  • Trashy romance novels: If your lady isn’t reading Nora Roberts, chances are she’s reading J.D. Robb. Guess what? They’re the same person! This is a corporate media empire to put Tom Clancy to shame. (I can’t count the number of Roberts/Robb audiobooks my wife owns. She has one iPod for her “stories” and a separate iPod Shuffle for her music. Guess which gets used more?) The point is, obsession is obsession, whether you’re male or female and whether it’s books or video games. Collecting is the foundation of geekdom.
  • Trashy television: If ever there was an indulgent escapist fantasy as geeky as slaying digital dragons, Sex and the City (or maybe its 21st Century equivalent, Lipstick Jungle) would be it. This is nothing but empowerment fantasy, and it’s shamelessly pointless – just like gaming, ultimately.
  • Trashy magazines: Cosmo. Jane. Marie Claire. People. These aren’t your lady’s friends, they’re her addictions. You have to live with them, same as she has to live with your games and your magazines: Maxim, Wizard, SI and the one you read “for the articles.”
  • Chocolate: OK, so women aren’t alone in addiction to chocolate. We have to have some common ground, after all. British research has shown that consuming this sweet treat can cause more intense pleasure than, well, other things that are known for causing intense pleasure.

We can play all the games we want but at the end of the day fun is fun, and everybody’s entitled to their fair share of it, be you geek or girl. I know girl gamers, but they’re a distinct minority. Most women see gaming as something to be outgrown. To which I say: tough toenails.

This doesn’t mean all women are bad gamers. My wife can kick my butt in Wii Sports. And I have to admit, that’s kind of hot.

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