The events transpiring on the internet over the last few weeks in and around the gaming industry have been bad. Bad is an understatement, but is the only single word that really covers pretty much everything that’s happened.
From personal threats, to smear campaigns, to hacks and doxxing, the internet has shown it’s teeth and let loose the worst it has. Anyone who dares stand up and say it’s wrong has also been targeted and either put on a list of people you shouldn’t support, or been messaged and threatened or told to kill themselves. Now, that’s a pretty serious problem – and I’m not sure when anyone started thinking it’s OK to say that to someone, but it’s very telling of the type of person who feels the need to say that, for whatever reason.
I could go into the various reasons that all this is happening – the anonymity of the internet and it’s inherent lack of accountability or the culture that that has fostered, but that’s all fairly obvious stuff. Everyone knows yelling on the internet isn’t real yelling… right? Hrm, well not so much these days, but that still isn’t my point.
My point is this: It didn’t feel good to be on the other side, did it?
A lot of “gamers” today were on the other side. They were weird kids with hobbies that others didn’t understand. They lived in front of computers, on consoles or with a portable in the their hands and glued to their faces. They were ridiculed for it. Mocked, isolated and ostracized. I watched to happen to others and lived through it myself. It was those experiences that bound us together – we “gamers” were united in our unpopular pass-time. United by being the people more interested in a way to escape a boring or painful reality into a world of fantasy where you weren’t a victim or a social outcast, but instead were the hero. You saved people’s lives and worlds. You re-made what was broken. You re-made yourself.
That was a long time ago. Since then our hobby – our pass-time of world-saving – has become mainstream. People talk about how the nerds finally won, and that they rule the earth. It’s a nice thought, but not quite accurate. It’s true we won legitimacy for games – we spent our money and lives buying, playing and talking about games. We talked to everyone about them, even if they didn’t care. We made this a multi-billion dollar industry.
The “gamers” of today aren’t just those people anymore. There are a huge number of people who play games. There are a huge number of games to be played. And there are a lot of different ways to play them, but not everyone remembers the struggle – the pain and loneliness of being the outsider. Some were born into a world where video games were ‘ok’ or even ‘popular’. On the surface that sounds great, but the darker side of that is that it has bred a culture of entitlement. What’s more is that, to a degree, that’s always been there – as though games are something one person owns – that they worked hard to get them here and you shouldn’t dare think of changing them. And then there are the angry people. The militant people.
These are people that think it’s OK to threaten others. They think it’s OK to belittle someone for sharing their opinion. They don’t have any respect for open discussion and are so firmly close-minded that their reflex is to lash out at anyone they perceive as not sharing their particular, generally narrow, world-view. It’s to these people that I address the following to:
You know how it feels to be attacked and excluded. You were there. We were all there together, no matter your age. You know how it feels to be ostracized, and maybe you even know how it feels to be threatened. It’s painful. It’s a pain that no one deserves and you know that. You know how it feels to be singled out.
Instead of reflexively lashing out or shouting someone down, look at it from another perspective. What’s the worst that can happen? Rational discussion and exchange of views? Or to have you mind changed about something?
Are you afraid that you’ll suddenly stop being yourself? That you’ll suffer such a deep shift in personality – a complete schism of the mind – that you’ll be unrecognisable to friends and family?
That won’t happen… but what might happen is this: You could understand another human-being.
You don’t have to agree, but you do need to understand.
One very final note:
Archaic Studios is now and will always be an inclusive place. I encourage everyone else to make their spaces – their communities and their forums and their offices the same. Never in human history has exclusion and ostricisation led to the betterment of us as a species or civilisation.
So then, build something better.