Thoughts About Gaming (And Other Topical Stuff)

Just trying to rationalize the whole "Gamers vs Social Justice Warriors" SWEEPING GENERALIZATION WARS that has been disturbing the peace on the interwebs lately. For my own benefit, if nobody else's.

(Labels are in parentheses because I don't know what else to call them. They're what these sides are commonly referred to, so to reference a certain continuity, I'm retaining these labels, although they're certainly not indicative of everyone associated with either side's particular movements.)

Apparently, "Gamers" want these "social justice warriors" out of their medium. A medium that they desperately want others to take seriously, a medium that they want to see become accepted and successful, a medium that they ensconced themselves to because perhaps in their childhood they were bullied or not good at sports or something, and playing videogames was their way of forgetting about the world's problems for a few hours. So they hack these people's accounts, leak all their personal info, find their home address and telephone number and barrage them with abuse using any and every method they can avail of.

Do these "gamers" not see what's happening here? It's straight up bullying, and it's no different than what they probably went through as a kid. Getting up in people's faces, leaving hateful messages in their school lockers, hurling abuse at them and threatening, if not following up on, violence. If "gamers" are supposed to be taking some sort of high ground and defending their "territory" (which isn't theirs to begin with, it belongs to the capitalists to whom they keep throwing money at), they're doing a bad job at it. Because it's a job that doesn't need to be done.

Gamers are not the gatekeepers of videogames. We don't get to choose who gets to play what, what does and doesn't get to be produced (I'll not go into Kickstarter technicalities here), and we sure as hell don't have the authority to tell someone to stop doing what they might enjoy just because it doesn't suit us. The sooner that the "gamers" wise up and realise this, the better. The more people we have enjoying the medium we love, and the more diverse games get produced, the more chance everyone in the world will be able to find at least one thing they'll like. And that sounds amazing that we've already got so many options available to everyone.

But not everything is covered. Perhaps that's what these "social justice warriors" are setting out to accomplish. Something for everyone. We don't have to like the fruits of their labour. But someone out there will. Perhaps that ends up being the one bridging point that leads someone into liking an entire genre's worth of other games that already does exist, and the chain keeps linking, and eventually we'll all find a few things in common that we'll all enjoy, and we can enjoy them together and all have fun.

Isn't that what videogames are all about for us consumers? Fun? August of 2014 might have been the worst month ever in the modern videogame industry, from a creation, development and journalistic standpoint, just because of all the mud-slinging between both factions. Many have just been exhausted by games as a whole, become disenfranchised with what gaming's become in the social sphere of the current generations, and regressed into retro gaming, where you don't need an internet connection or social media to have a good time. But you still have to remember, while social media, internet forums and so on, have a wide net, the vocal few you're catching in it are exactly that: few. I'm willing to bet there's a vast majority of gamers out there who don't go to gaming news websites, don't use social media, and are blissfully aware of what's been going on lately, and because of that, nothing will change. They don't know about the calls for change, they don't know about Phil Fish and Polytron being doxxed and driven from Twitter and game development (again). They don't know who Phil Fish is. They've never heard of Zoe Quinn before. They don't care because they're too busy having fun.

They're having fun with a pastime they love, which is exactly what the rest of us should be doing. So what is it about gaming in the modern era where we're apparently not able to have fun any more?

I mentioned it on Twitter earlier, but this afternoon, I got to watch the PAX Prime 2014 Royal Rumble (above). It was a much needed relief from the constant hatred and vitriol that's plagued gaming over the last month or thereabouts, just because it was fun. It was an assortment of videogame journalists, critics and developers, all playing WWF WrestleMania 2000 on a Nintendo 64, in front of a crowd of fans. It was super dumb, as was the first event at PAX East, but we didn't care, because we were too busy having fun to really notice. And we want more of it.

So why can't these so-called "gamers" put away their pitchforks and just have fun? What harm is it to them that a bunch of people, who have no effect on their ability to have fun, who will never show up on their doorstep, who will probably never come up in any of their matchmaking lobbies or servers, want to make something different?

Honestly, I'm not a fan of how the "Social Justice Warriors" seem to go about it as well. Retaliating in similar outbursts of hate isn't going to convince anyone that your side is better, but those that can do it in a way that doesn't offend anyone, and is honest and warranted criticism and suggestions, shouldn't be dragged into their mess. These people do exist, but the people who have joined in their crusade tend to have the louder voices and unrefined, unresearched opinions, drown out the legitimate concerns these people have. But remember: these people just want to have fun, too. Just, their idea of fun might not align with yours. But them creating their own fun won't make yours go away. They don't hate the medium we love - far from. They just want to make it more open and accessible for them, in a way that doesn't offend them. And we should be applauding that. Maybe we might like it. Maybe it might be fun. But we'll not know if we keep chasing them off.

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