Last night's True Life featured two videogame addicts. One, Barry, fit the normal gamer profile of white male techophile between the ages of fifteen and thirty. And then there was Charisse.
MTV seems to define videogame addiction as playing in excess of more than eight hours per day. Charisse and Barry are both in college, but barely: Barry was struggling to get into grad school with a 2.6 GPA, while Charisse lost her financial aid and was put on academic probation because she spent too much time playing and not enough time studying. Charisse and Barry also struggled with how their gaming habits impacted their romantic relationships, but only Charisse acknowledged there was a problem.
Barry: Headstrong and Full of Gamer Stereotypes
I was off team Barry early thanks to a telling interaction with his girlfriend, Alison, who lived 2 hours away but couldn't seem to hold his attention while visiting. Why? He was busy gaming. After waiting around for hours and getting pissed off for being ignored, blows her off, Barry flew off the handle at her "irrational behavior." Apparently, she's was not earning her way to a wedding ring.
It became clear that Barry was trying to live up to every possible stereotype that exists about guys who game. (At one point, he said "Tell him to take the tampon out" about another guy in game making complaints. This kind of sexist comment is actually pretty common.) See also the midnight game release run:
Charisse: Obsessive, Boundary Breaking
Charisse, on the other hand, both upheld and broke stereotypes about gamers. Though an obsessive player in her own right, she showed quite a bit of range, devoting time to her five Sorority Life accounts, Farmville accounts, Guitar Hero, and Halo.
Charisse's boyfriend is also African-American, a pairing that illuminated three different demographics not normally associated with gaming: a gaming couple, black gamers, and black girl gamers. Their interactions were peppered with cute moments, like them both camped out at Gamestop for the release of the latest Halo.
This being True Life, Charisse's relationship was also going through a rough patch due to her gaming. One of the big myths about females and video games is that men automatically find their hobby a turn-on. Not exactly.
Unlike the one-sided Barry-Allison relationship, Corey and Charisse were eventually able to work it out. He chose to accept her identity as a gamer, and opened up more communication in their relationship. Charisse was also able to get her education sorted out - she kept gaming, got straight As in her classes, and kept her boyfriend.
Confession: I got waaaayyy too excited to see a black girl onscreen. If girl gamers are invisible to the industry, black girl gamers might as well be unicorns, frolicking on a Lisa Frank folder somewhere.
On behalf of gamer girls everywhere, Charisse, we thank you for representing.