the geek shall inherit the earth

posted by tom / March 28, 2005 /

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.

  1. "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 isn't the renowned academic institution I thought it was. Plunging onward...

  2. "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.

  3. "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).
  4. 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.)


I'm continually charmed by the amount of brainpower you boys have been spilling to try and prove to us that we will all one day want to screw video game players.

But I see a number of problems. Part of this theory rests on your idea that video games will "become a ubiquitous male institution" and thus achieve the stature of sports or wealth in attracting girls. BUT, I don't know if you've hung out with any boys lately, but video games are already ubiquitous, and have been since approximately 1987. However, widespread female lust over video game champions has not noticeably appreciated. Why will it suddenly start doing so? (If, somehow, video games make you unbelievably rich, then yes, you will have women. But this is because of money, not video games, and that's not a new phenomenon. Now, start your theory on why video games will make you rich and thus covered with girls. It's gonna happen. Really.)

As we ladies conceded on Saturday, there is of course a subset of women (see: Dungeon Majesty link) who value video game prowess. Just as you can find a niche to value the best male oboe player, I'm sure. But as we've already seen over the last 20 years, video games are not making much headway in the general population. Evolutionarily, why would this be? I'm no scientist, but I can guess it's because hard-core gamers end up pasty, white, wide-assed, and nearsighted with negligible social skills and weird twitches. This does not send a signal that you will produce robust offspring or defend them from non-pixellated dangers.

Posted by: susan on March 28, 2005 02:39 PM

this is the funniest thing i've read all day...and probably all week. i just had a weekend of two semi-dates, that were 'ok', but i may have to submit to these awesome sociological dating theories in finding my alpha-gaming male. or go work on my math skills.

Posted by: Naomi on March 28, 2005 02:45 PM

btw, how does this theory relate to GIRLS who know how to play videogames?

Posted by: Naomi on March 28, 2005 02:47 PM

I think we all agreed that pretty much anything girls do well is hot.

Posted by: susan on March 28, 2005 03:00 PM

Kriston! This is public. Other people can read that! Gah!

Posted by: susan on March 28, 2005 03:38 PM

Susan, despite Kriston having just completely undercut your position, I think you raise a good point:

BUT, I don't know if you've hung out with any boys lately, but video games are already ubiquitous, and have been since approximately 1987. However, widespread female lust over video game champions has not noticeably appreciated.

YET. And this is the important point: ours is the first generation to have grown up with omnipresent videogaming. There was still an irrational "nerd" stigma associated with it. Plus, girls as an institution hadn't had time to realize just how impossibly sexy it is.

So you see, this whole argument isn't about self-aggrandizement; it's about self-pity. We just barely missed out. Kriston and I and all of the other guys our age are unsung pioneers.

Posted by: tom on March 28, 2005 03:44 PM

Well, Kriston's baby brother is a 2nd generation video game geek and he got an absurd amount of play before he went all Youth Group Virgin (which statistically means he should start having deviant sex fairly soon). STILL I maintain that this is because little Capps is RICH due to some website entrepreneurial gig he had going. And not because of the LAN parties.

Posted by: susan on March 28, 2005 05:11 PM

additional evidence! while I was searching through the site for something or other I became distracted and started going through old comment threads, and came across this one, in which Jon presents some compelling testimony:

it was a hot stuffy night in the Syracuse summmer. Heat lightning danced across the sky like breaking waves over the sand, or fireballs blasting from the hands of a street fighter. My own eyes were trained on the television screen as Vincent the Vampire used his DeathBlow technique in conjunction with his Sniper gun (225% accuracy) to deadly effect. The windows were open and the fans blew the smell of cut grass and barbecue on our sweaty bodies as we shared the comfort and slight old-man-smell of a rented house couch. I could see her reflection inching closer to mine in the Bob Seger and the SIlver Bullet Band mirror behind the television, but pretended not to notice as I deftly maneuvered my motley party through the nefarious Shinra Mansion.
The convection of air evaporated the condensed water from our skin, but the temperature continued to rise. Perceiving the heat from between her smooth brown thighs, I became aware of a dryness in my throat. We both reached for the same can of Pabst Blue Ribbon lite...
xxxx xx xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxxx
We learned a lot about the shrouded history of the maniacal villan Sephiroth and the enigmatic hero Cloud Strife and a little about ourselves and life is good, love is real, and beauty is everywhere
Posted by: tom on March 28, 2005 05:12 PM

kriston, i bet reid would like to debate your claim to video game supremacy in high school. i mean, yeah, it's easy to be the best at Pirates if you're the only person playing the game. same goes for the oboe. but what about the games that matter, namely dr. mario and tetris?

you two should fist fight for coppell supremacy.

as for the rest of this debate, it's dancing around the answer: video gaming will add sex appeal only once the battles for supremacy within a given social circle are broadcast in a highly public venue.

women love the quarterback at some puny 1A high school because he is better than his peers -- although he can't hold the jock of most 5A backup QBs -- and his supremacy shows up every weekend in the box score. similarly, there are many, many great unknown artists out there, but they become sexually appealing to many women only once they ascend to the top of some "scene" or the best-seller charts or something -- not because of their talent per se.

so tommy might actually be right, especially since the generation of girls behind susan, catherine, et al., are much more avid gamers than their still very much youthful and beautiful predecessors. the key is to make the competition public, but that runs against every primal urge of most hardcore gamers.

Posted by: matty on March 29, 2005 01:27 PM

Tetris and D-Mario were always your and Reid's arena—no challenge there. I'd say that Caveman Games has to be common litmus of manhood. And I can mate toss with the best of them.

But I think this discussion misses an important point illustrated by the dystopian 1985 classic, Weird Science—who's to say, if women cannot learn to love us for who we are, that we will not seek out other objects of affection?

Posted by: Kriston on March 29, 2005 02:35 PM

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