Thursday, September 4, 2014

Remember When We Used to Play and Talk About Games? Yeah...

CAUTION: This "editorial" is a stream of consciousness more than something thoughtful, so feel free to rip this apart after you've finished reading it!

What happened to that? Allow me to wax poetic for a moment. I remember the biggest worries I had growing up wasn't whether my favorite studio was going to be closed down or whether my favorite developer or writer was going to be involved in a controversy that spanned the entire industry. I worried about whether or not I should fill all of my sub-tanks to tackle the final form of Sigma in Mega Man X, or figure out how to progress in the Flooded Palace in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. All I had to freaking do was walk through the waterfall!!! Walk through the waterfall! Aggggh!

However, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, which has done so much to bring like-minded people together (no sarcasm yet), it has made it so easy to have a say in just about everything, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's made it so it's alarmingly simple to cause trouble, be anonymous, and even ruin lives. That's damn scary, Skippy!

If you haven't been following the events and the controversy about GamerGate-- actually, first we should discuss how our community needs to come up with better names for controversies rather than lazily adding "gate" to the end of everything. We need to be more creative, people!

Anyway, back to what I was talking about. If you haven't been following GamerGate, and why would you? It's Internet drama, and I grew tired of caring a long time ago. Does that make me a better person than someone who does care? No. We just have different interests and priorities is all.

To my understanding, GamerGate started when a female writer offered to play Trivial Pursuit with game journalists in exchange for coverage from their specific media outlets. This angered gamers who found it unfair and pretty much all kinds of wrong. The first thing that was wrong was that game journalists were blatantly being biased and covering this female person's stuff. The second thing was that plenty of gamers were pissed that it was Trivial Pursuit being played. They were like "Scrabble, all day, er'y day, bitches!" Oh, and there's some kind of media corruption, misogyny in the industry, and hacking thrown somewhere in there as well. I didn't think that was worth talking about.

I do have to credit various game journalists out there for responding to the situation in a very helpful and mature matter... by escalating it into an "us versus them" affair. An avalanche of "gamers are over" esque editorials were posted on numerous sites, and this was the mature way of handling the situation that I expected from some (notice the word "some") of the same group of journalists who happily accept free gifts from developers, defend their anti-consumer policies, and essentially bite the hands that feed them by trash-talking gamers, even going as far to generalize all gamers in patronizing ways. This must be where the "notallgamers" hash tag comes from. Well, it being a play on the actual "notallcops" hash tag regarding the circumstances occurring in Ferguson, y'know, something that is actually important to more than just our little hobby.

I don't actually have anything intelligent to say about the so-called GamerGate. It's a lot to take in, it's a lot of unwanted drama, and it takes away from what's good about our hobby. All I'm reminded of is the idea that in some aspects, the Internet has been more of a curse than a blessing to this industry. Before, we got all of our news from magazines and we hyped games up and talked about them on playgrounds and in offices. Now, we march to message boards, saying how our opinion is the right one and anyone who disagrees is objectively wrong. We have it where it's so easy to post our dissatisfaction with games, how we want the designers and developers who put something we don't like into a game to go kill themselves and other hurtful things, and we have constant wars with each other and the journalists who are supposed to be covering for us and not just for themselves.

What we have are some people who in the past would be emotionally and socially stunted people, but they would be constrained to their rooms all day. Nowadays, we still have emotionally and socially stunted people who are constrained to their rooms all day, but now they have the Internet to lob insults, make threats, and turn their frustrations with the world onto real life people from the safety of behind their computer screens.

I miss when our hobby was about "ooh, you gonna get a Dreamcast when it comes out?" and not "ooh, you think all gamers and developers hate women like I think?" When reviews were about "I think the graphics need to be tightened on level three," and not "I give this game a bad score, and anyone who plays it is a sexist piece of crap who needs to get out of their mother's basement!"

GamerGate is less about the fight between gamers and the game journalists who write content for them to read and more about "damn, the Internet has made this hobby overly dramatic shit sometimes." So while countless folks on both sides who paint things in black and white argue and raise commotion, I'm going to just write about how video games are awesome and how I'd love to make friends with more people who share my passion and love this hobby.

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