the geek shall inherit the earth
Catherine cruelly belittled my new blockbuster sociological theory, first introduced on Saturday night somewhere between wine bottle 4 and wine bottle 7. But revolutionary thinking is frequently met with hostility by those locked into a bourgeois mindset. I hope you all will be a little more reasonable.
So, the question before you: as playing videogames becomes a ubiquitous male institution (like playing sports or having a penis), will women be attracted to men on the basis of male profiency (in the same way they are attracted to men who are of above average proficiency at sports or at having a penis).
I contend that yes, yes they will. At the time my rhetorical abilities were limited to making everyone watch some video from Dungeon Majesty, but having conducted a more exhaustive survey of the related literature (ie, after spending five minutes on google), I am prepared to explain to you ladies why you find things attractive. I'm sure you're eager to find out.
Based upon this article, there seem to be four theories that are used to explain female mate selection.
- "The good genes theory 'argues that females exhibit mate choice in order to provide their offspring with a partner's genes that will advance their offspring's chances of survival or reproductive success'". This seems a little circular to me: a female identifies a male with good genes by trying to select one with good genes. Hmm. Maybe wikibooks.org isn't the renowned academic institution I thought it was. Plunging onward...
- "The good parent theory suggests that 'choosy individuals select partners on the basis of how well they will care for their offspring'". Now we're getting somewhere. On this basis, videogame proficiency clearly qualifies as a desirable trait: in the event of an alien, ninja or shark attack you can be assured that my offspring would be safer than most. If Ryu from Street Fighter shows up, though, I'm screwed. Sorry, ladies. If this is a concern, you might try wearing a low-cut shirt near Jon.
- "The healthy mate theory occurs when females prefer 'males healthy enough to produce and maintain elaborate ornaments' (Alcock 491). A good example of this is in female house finches, who choose male mates based on their bright coloration. Bright coloration tells the female that the male is more resistant to pathogens and parasites." Again, videogame playing should be a decisive evolutionary win. Not only does it come with distinctive plumage of a sort (thick thumb calluses; translucent skin under eyes), but the accompanying ornamentation (e.g. extra controllers, XBox Live subscriptions, DDR pads) speaks to the ability to sustain an above-subsistence lifestyle, and to avoid manual labor of any sort (and its almost certain accompaniment, a violent and premature death -- usually involving a radial saw).
- Alright, so we've established that I would make a highly attractive mate for a female house finch. What about, you know, human girls? This brings us to the runaway selection theory. "It states that by being choosy, females 'create a positive feedback loop favoring both males with these attributes and females that prefer them'". To summarize: females are capricious and arbitrary (also: bad at math). A choice gets made, and the act of choosing establishes a cyclical, reinforcing phenomenon. So only a few females need to randomly find gamers attractive for the trait to begin to be passed on to future females and encouraged in the male population.
More seriously, I think that industrialized societies allow for sufficiently quick generational transitions between economic classes and a good enough safety net that specific types of male competition are too abstracted from the ability to propagate genes for them to have much evolutionary significance. Sure, there are old, hardwired biological cues -- symmetric features roughly equal undamaged genes, and serious physical infirmity is rarely a turnon. But other arenas of relative achievement -- amassing wealth, or being good at sports, or appearing intelligent and artistic -- are attractive simply because they're competitive. To the extent that one man (A) is better than another man (B) at almost anything, man A will be considered more attractive.
So yes, once videogames are fully integrated into our culture and everyone in a given high school knows who's the best at whatever videogame is the most popular, I think that game proficiency will begin to be viewed as an attractive characteristic by said high school's population of girls.
Once that happens the feedback loop will be established, and the world's geeks will enjoy increased opportunities for romantic embarassment. Well, at least until the jocks apply their superior hand-eye coordination and take over the whole enterprise. Then it's back to dreaming about your D&D character's +1 enchanted mace somehow granting access to +2 human boobs.
(Apologies for the unoriginal title. I really wanted to call this "baby you don't love me, you just love my bloggy style", but couldn't come up with a justification for it.)