Gamers are pretty used to turning on the television and finding entire worlds where everybody has better things to do with their time than play video games. You know, saving the planet, falling in love, fighting crime, and whatnot. And when it isn’t that, it’s shitheads on the news blaming all of the world’s evils on us. A lunatic shot up a school. Video games often feature shooting. Coincidence? I think NOT!
Considering we make up a near-majority of the population, you’d think gamers would be better represented in American media, but considering the media purveyors consist mostly of a generation who fears the hobby on both a personal and professional level, we shouldn’t be surprised. But that doesn’t make the ban on representations of gamers a blanket one. Here are four awesome characters from television that are shown to actually enjoy playing video games. And only one of them is pure evil! I’ll take it.
FX’s You’re the Worst is probably the most underrated show on the air right now. In fact, I can’t think of anything else on basic cable or network television that makes me laugh out loud half as often. This is the kind of comedy show that reminds me that television can still surprise me with unexpected humor when I thought I’d seen it all. But we’re not here to talk about the state of sitcoms.
The show’s co-protagonist Jimmy is…well, he’s kind of a British me. Snarky, cynical, obsessed with brutal honesty, and utterly unwilling to bother with petty social graces when there’s so much horrible shit in the world. He can often be found playing up some Borderlands while wallowing in his own misery. And yes, this is what I consider positive representation for gamers. Or at least relatable representation. Okay, I take what I can get.
One of his funniest scenes involves a child offering friendship to the depressive adult, who responds with a lengthy rant about the absurdity of the notion of him relating to a mere child when his mind is so full of deep, soul-crushing, intellectual thoughts about the nature of big important stuff. Then the kid points out that his father gets early review copies of all the new games and Jimmy quickly reconsiders the offer. Irony attained.
Alright, Gamemoirers. Close your eyes. Not literally because then you won’t be able to read the words, but picture you are now an immortal creature of the night. Drink a little blood here and there, and you can live FOREVER! What would you do with all that time? Damn straight, game like crazy. Being a vampire or a classical geek means you don’t get along with sunlight or other people and have no life anyways. It only makes sense for Logan Griffen to consolidate and be both.
Moonlight was a one-season wonder show that set out to retread all of the popular vampire-crime-fighter-meets-girl tropes. Not the most flattering description, but for what it’s worth the show was actually pretty good (and sparkle-free!). While the tall dark and handsome lead Mick was kept busy being all dreamy and manly and stuff, when he needed some help cracking his case he knew the value of nerd power.
Logan would usually be found in his vampire man-child cave playing some Halo or slamming on his Rock Band set-up. I’m sorry, Mr. Dark Romantic Hero, did you need something hacked before you get back to your slo-mo superjumps and torturing yourself over your impossible and dangerous love with that hot mortal girl? Sure, I’ve got a minute. I’ve got ALL the minutes.
Logan’s best moment comes in the series finale when he did something I would never have expected to see on a network television show clearly aimed at the female demographic. After spending the series just being the laughable loser that the romantic man of action uses as a means to an end, Logan finally leaps into action with the epic battle cry that shall resound in the hearts and minds of gamers forevermore: “Leeerooyyy…Jeeenkiiinssss!” I’ll buy that for a dollar.
By now you might be noticing an early emerging trend that these gamer characters are not necessarily the best role models. That may be true, but neither are you. Or anyone else, if you look close enough *cough*billcosby*cough*. Actually, I kind of like this trend. Idealized characters are lame and unbelievable. They aren’t people, they are symbolic fantasies who are occasionally played by real life rapists. On some level, I think most of us prefer the warts and all approach to character development. It’s why socially incompetent heroes like Batman and Spider-Man will always be cooler than shining beacons of perfection like Superman and Captain America.
And that brings us to Spaced, where Simon Pegg’s character Tim deals with a break up by playing Tomb Raider and deliberately killing Lara Croft over and over in an amusing and slightly disturbing fit of misogynistic impulse. This is a particularly humorous illustration of the way people often displace their emotions in inappropriate ways. How much you want to bet those shitheads tweeting threats to online females under false pretenses are not really fueled by a lust for journalistic purity at all but by displaced romantic frustration? No takers? Thought so.
One sign of a really great show is that its characters are all messed up and you love them anyways. In fact, this is kind of what geek-flavored shows tend to be about. With all that social non-acceptance out there beating us down, we’ve had to focus on ways to love ourselves as we are and you can’t do that while you’re lying about who you are. Tim and his friends may be prone to insane neuroses, but at the end of the day, they’re still awesome people. Awesome people whose arguments occasionally become live action representations of Tekken matches.
How do you even define what constitutes a villain anymore? Fire up your Netflix and watch House of Cards before you attempt to answer. Following in the morally questionable footsteps of Breaking Bad, this one decides to go one further. Walter White was a teacher with the good intentions of providing for his family from the start, but when we meet U.S. Senator Frank Underwood he is already a nasty piece of work with one and only one goal in mind: crush everybody not aligned with his own self-interest. And after a hard day of political intrigue, sex, and murder he likes to wind down with a little Call of Duty. You know, just to focus on that last one for a while.
A gamer in the Senate? Say it ain’t so, ’Murica. Actually, within a couple decades, it’s likely a big chunk of our government will be made up of gamers. Don’t rejoice just yet though, my geeky brethren and sistren. Have you not played online? The gamers who rise up to inherit our awful government probably won’t be lovable Zelda girls or harmless Final Fantasy fanboys. We’ll still be wasting our lives doing the things we love as often as we can. The winners are always going to be the ones willing to sell their souls and ruin the things they love most to get what they want.
Senator Underwood may play Call of Duty, but I’ll bet my PlayStation he is a spawn-camping piece of shit. Think about how the guy lives. He’s never given a fair shake in his life. Every person he meets as he climbs to ladder towards the White House is nothing but one more way to add to his score. Kind of the way people use each other in multiplayer gaming.
But while some of us are more than willing to play fair and enjoy a well-played match for its own sake win or lose, there are always the modders and the glitch-exploiters and other people who are willing to suck all of the enjoyment out of playing the game as it was intended because beating other people is the only object to them. Fun is a buzzword for losers. These are the people who will rise to the top. And that’s Frank. He already has everything he could ever need or want in life. All that’s left is the thrill of destroying another human being just because he can. He’s the hardest core gamer of them all.