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April 23, 2009

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Videogames in general [to the extent that they are most popular with a certain segment of the male population] are combat simulators. Some have more of a tactical bent, others more of a reflexes bent, but that is the core gameplay for almost every game popular with males.

Seems like not understanding this leads to a lot of hot air when it comes to pontificating about videogames, particularly when it comes to that bugaboo about how games aren't appealing enough to girls.

The average WoW player plays something like 25 hours a week though. I like video games, but to play them 25 hours a week, every week, is probably a bad idea.

There is always going to be a certain level of arbitrariness in social hierarchies. You are kidding yourself if you think you can rationalize your way out of them though.

The average American watches 19 hours of TV. Most heavy duty WoW players don't watch much TV.

[HS: But the average upper-middle-class American watches a lot less television than the average American. I think most WoW players have high enough IQ to have upper-middle-class jobs because the game is too complicated for someone with only a 100 IQ (the average) to understand.]

trumwill wrote on a WoW thread:
******************
The reason that a lot of these activities have such a stench is that they have the ability to take over someone's life and attract people with giant voids in their life just waiting to be taken over. WoW can fall into that category. Like Everquest was. I know at least a couple girls that did date guys that played those games. They became "Everquest widows". When my ex-girlfriend left her ex-boyfriend, screaming at him for being so neglectful of her (and everything), he didn't even take his eyes off the screen.

She decided that she would never date another gamer ever again. And she told that story to a lot of young women, a good many of which decided that was not the sort of thing that they needed.
****************
End Trumwill

There once was a girl named Becky Beeds,
her boyfriend began playing Everquest,
and forgot all about her needs,
so she paraded around in her semi-dressed best,

And proclaimed, 'It's me or the game!'
But his Knight needed a mount,
and he had a dragon to tame,
And off she went, before ten you could count,

And her and her sisters agree,
declaring to all, 'He wasn't worthy of she!'

HS: But the average upper-middle-class American watches a lot less television than the average American. I think most WoW players have high enough IQ to have upper-middle-class jobs because the game is too complicated for someone with only a 100 IQ (the average) to understand.]

Sigma, what is your source?

I'm actually more surprised that HS thinks that the game is only accessible to those with an IQ of more than 100. Seriously? You click on monsters and automatically attack them. Repeat times a million.
The most demanding part of the game would be very serious raiding, but not a lot of the WoW playerbase actually does it. This is the oft-cited "hardcore vs casual" WoW player divide.

I strongly recommend guitar queero over WoW. There are bars in LA (and probably NYC) that have guitar hero night (in lieu of karaoke).

A few weeks back, my housemate -- a girl, mind you -- got guitar hero. After playing a few times, I went to the bar event and had a good time. Much better to meet people that way at a bar than just shooting the shit.

"The average American watches 19 hours of TV. Most heavy duty WoW players don't watch much TV.
[HS: But the average upper-middle-class American watches a lot less television than the average American.]"

Another thing is that people who are playing video games concentrate much more closely on the games than TV watchers concentrate on the television. In fact, much TV "watching" is more accurately described as having the TV on in the background without necessarily giving it much attention. You can have the TV on and still interact with other people, indeed the things on the TV can actually serve as conversational fodder. That's much less so with respect to video games, given their greater demands on a player's attention.

I was reading recently about how men and women differ in their reactions of sexual jealousy. Male jealousy stems from a need for reproductive control (unwittingly raising another male's child is the ultimate evolutionary loser's hand). Women's sexual jealousy is related to losing the man's emotional investment in her and their children.

Considering that many fantasy video games prominently feature hugely exaggerated yet realistically rendered images of fertile women--perhaps we're getting somewhere. On a primitive level, could women perceive video games as sexual competition?

You know, attempting to develop a complete theory of nerdiness is probably the nerdiest thing a person can do.

It has nothing to do with the medium itself, it's purely a function of who is playing it. If the hobby calls for aggression and fitness, like mixed martial arts, then you'll find more aggressive, fit types practicing that hobby.

Consider band. It's reputed to have the biggest losers and weirdos. At my Ivy League college, everyone I know in band is a certifiable weirdo, and I've yet to meet a cute girl or a high status guy that's in it. And yet there isn't anything inherently nerdy in band; it's just that cool and even normal people stay away from it.

"You know, attempting to develop a complete theory of nerdiness is probably the nerdiest thing a person can do."

Nah. Theorizing in this matter requires social intelligence. Nerds have none of the former. The people who do this most are probably former introverts. And not ex-nerds, because nerds never lose their nerdy tastes, cadence, mannerisms, etc. On the other hand, shy people do occasionally become more extroverted.

[HS: But the average upper-middle-class American watches a lot less television than the average American. I think most WoW players have high enough IQ to have upper-middle-class jobs because the game is too complicated for someone with only a 100 IQ (the average) to understand.]
IQ is used so carelessly on this blog. The IQ distribution of WOW players is to the right of the population? What is the justification for this--that WOW has a lot of buttons and uses a computer? WOW has all the complexity of a theme park. You make a character, log in, go along a predefined path defined by a series of quests. You join a guild as a drone and are trained to hit a button on command, a cog executing a small part in a strategy for a raid your guild officers got off some messageboard. If anything the widespread adoption of WOW indicates the game appeals to the average.
I'm waiting for someone to point out the corollary that if WOW requires a 100+ IQ only gifted black people can play it.

"Theorizing in this matter requires social intelligence. Nerds have none of the former. The people who do this most are probably former introverts. And not ex-nerds, because nerds never lose their nerdy tastes, cadence, mannerisms, etc. On the other hand, shy people do occasionally become more extroverted."

Of course there's much overlap between nerds and introverts. My take is that most, if not quite all, nerds are introverted, but only a moderate percentage of introverts are nerds. Does that sound reasonable?

Well, theorizing that Scrabble is less nerdy because women play Scrabble requires enough social intelligence to reliably distinguish between men and women... I think even most nerds can do that.

"Consider band. It's reputed to have the biggest losers and weirdos."

Does anyone from band ever go on to attain fame and status as a professional musician? Or do the truly talented have their own bands by the time they reach college age? I bring this up only because weirdos sometimes get reclassified as "eccentric geniuses" if they're talented enough.

Some traditional nerd spheres--chess, science, computer programming--if pursued to the extremes have the potential to confer social status. MMPORGs don't seem to offer any hope for status attainment, even peripherally, or even among the social groups who play them since interaction happens anonymously over the Web.

I suspect one day, far, far in the future, video games will be recognized as a legitimate artistic form, at least on par with the Hollywood films of today. In that case, gaming fandom may shed some of its nerd stigma. The avid teen gamer of the future may not be immediately relegated to the dweeb pile since people can hold out hope that one day he'll channel his passion into creating his own best-selling game and become a celebrity.

"Although WoW skews older, because practically no one outside of professional NFL players plays football after they've graduated from college."

Well other than all of the adult leagues such as Long Island Flag football
http://www.liffl.com/index.cfm
or the American Flag and Touch Football association
http://www.aftfl.com/home.cfm
or all the YMCA adult leagues.

Or practically every picnic with more than 4 adult males.

I used to play an MMOG called World War II Online, and the crowd there was much less geeky than the WoW crowd. There were a bunch of married guys in their 30s and 40s, often ex-military.

Not only did it avoid the extra-geeky fantasy theme, but the players were mostly casual, not no-lifers whose lives were dominated. You could sublimate combat by casually playing a football game on an Xbox with actual friends, and that really wouldn't be nerdy at all.

Turambar -

Flag football and touch football are very pale imitations of the real thing. I wouldn't even consider them the same sport at all.

Peter, you have you own taxonomy of football, for which you seem to have a passing, mild distaste.

There are some aspect of full pads that are different rec but majority are the same. Some of the play differs because games can be done without full line ups or quality play at all positions.

But couldnt you say the same about half court basketball, 3 on 3, or no check hockey?

There is probably no casual sport, even golf, that is played with full adherence to the professional rules.

//Of course there's much overlap between nerds and introverts. My take is that most, if not quite all, nerds are introverted, but only a moderate percentage of introverts are nerds. Does that sound reasonable?//

Nerds are, partly by definition, socially inept. It's not so much that they're introverts as it is that society has beaten the extroverts out of them. Go to Anime Club or Linux Club or something like that and you'll find that a lot of them really do enjoy people that they're comfortable around. They're just not comfortable around most people. You'll also find that a lot of them are really obnoxious.

It's the genre. Fantasy/scifi have always been thought of as nerdy. Non-nerds tend to not live in their heads enough to be into that sort of stuff.

When people play Madden Football, they're not simulating war; they're simulating real football. (Of course real football has some evolutionary connection to war simulation.) They're fantasizing about being NFL players. It's escapist, but only mildly: they're escaping from their lives to lives that actually exist. Nerds escape from their lives to... well, anything. Nerds have more imagination. But they're also less connected to the real world, especially socially.

(Disclaimer: I'm a nerd who likes sci-fi but not fantasy. Never tried WoW. I stick to things like chess, go and poker.)

"Some traditional nerd spheres--chess, science, computer programming--if pursued to the extremes have the potential to confer social status."

Chess nerds and say, anime nerds, are different. Chess nerds are usually quiet, smart but normal kids. The latter group has weird mannerisms and cadence and may be obnoxiously extroverted. When cool people are loud it's fun, when it's weirdos, you just want to yell "STFU!"

"My take is that most, if not quite all, nerds are introverted, but only a moderate percentage of introverts are nerds."
Don't have numbers on the former contention, but agree with the latter. In my post I had a narrow definition of nerd in mine, more of a gestalt feeling than a definite category. By nerd, I don't mean a guy who is unsuccessful with women, or not very social. It's partly about obsessing over some hobby and socializing only with those people, but it really depends on the hobby. Sports fanatics are not usually nerds, but comic book ones usually are.

One thing I can definitely say about my predominantly white, heavily Jewish town, is that the football players were the proverbial socially dominant "bad boys"; there were very few AP scholars among their ranks. The football players were disproportionately white Christians, and Jewish players were underrepresented relative to their population in the town (as were Asians, also overrepresented in my town). Football seems to be a prole sport, overall. My own parents refused to let me play football, which they claimed was too dangerous (I think they were also concerned that I'd fall in with the wrong crowd). On the other hand, the track & field team and the tennis team attracted more academic-minded students.

"Football seems to be a prole sport, overall. My own parents refused to let me play football, which they claimed was too dangerous (I think they were also concerned that I'd fall in with the wrong crowd). On the other hand, the track & field team and the tennis team attracted more academic-minded students."

Tennis is a sport for life, as is at least the running part of track, which is in very sharp contrast to football. As Siggy noted, unless you're in the NFL, your opportunities for playing football after age 21 or so are basically a goose egg.

Yeah, that's right, and remember tennis was a sport of the English upper-classes. I guess rugby was too, which produced football, and until the 1940s, the Ivy League schools were the football powerhouses.

Now, from what I've seen, the football players are the ones who party away in high-school (alcohol, sometimes drugs). There are some smart ones, but most are less academic minded than the tennis players, or track people. If I was a parent who cared solely about academics, I'd keep my kid away from the football players, or I'd make him maintain a certain GPA to play. My school's coaches used to emphasize the importance of grades, but not all the players followed that advice.

"remember tennis was a sport of the English upper-classes. I guess rugby was too, which produced football, and until the 1940s, the Ivy League schools were the football powerhouses"

Tennis still has a slight upper-class image in America, though less so than in past generations. A more serious issue is the extent to which the sport's popularity is on the decline, attributable most likely to the explosive growth of cartball.

Rugby isn't played professionally in the United States to any meaningful extent but is suprisingly popular on the amateur level. I'd say that more adults play rugby than play football, but unfortunately that's saying very little, what with the nonexistence of adult amateur football. What's surprising, given the sport's brutality, is that amateur rugby is quite upscale, played mainly in fancy suburbs. Perhaps it benefits from being English in origin.

--

"Now, from what I've seen, the football players are the ones who party away in high-school (alcohol, sometimes drugs). There are some smart ones, but most are less academic minded than the tennis players, or track people. "

On the other hand, the football players surely do much better with girls.

sports are manly and non-nerdy because they are proxies for physical combat.

But most video and computer games popular among nerds are also proxies for physical combat.

Actually playing sports requires some amount of physical fitness. The combat which our brains are wired to recognize as "manly" is rather physically demanding, as is actually playing football. While having sharp eyes and fast hand reflexes may make you more suitable for actual modern combat than being able to lift a club over and over, that's not what people instinctively react to.

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