*Warning: This post contains words and phrases that some may find offensive. We feel that their use is appropriate in this instance however if you feel that this isn’t for you please don’t read any further.
I love gaming, a fact that should be obvious given that I run a community games site in my spare time. I have met some of my best friends through gaming, had some great times at gaming conventions and use gaming as a stress relief and entertainment tool. But there is one thing that I cannot stand that is sadly a part of my favourite hobby. One thing that forces me time and time again to re-evaluate how I feel about the whole gaming culture. That thing is other gamers.
Now I am not talking about everyone obviously, I am talking about the loud mouthed, immature members of the gaming community that think it is ok to threaten, belittle or demean other players, journo’s or spectators. The minority of people that think threatening to rape someone’s mother is a legitimate criticism of someone’s work. The people that can’t even afford another human one ounce of respect. It is these people that bring shame to us all.
These so called gamers constantly bring gaming to the masses in a bad light. They are like the drunk footballer who relieves himself on a police car, the bad example that tarnishes the whole group. For many years gamers have struggled for their favourite hobby to be given legitimacy in the mainstream media, to be given the same respect that other forms of entertainment such as movies and music are. I can tell you right now that the reason we as a group aren’t extended that courtesy is because the majority of times our hobby reaches the media is because of organised hate groups like Gamergate or a mass reaction of abuse to a particular event.
The most recent of these events occurred when comedian and late night host Jimmy Kimmel made some comments regarding eSports. Now let’s get this clear from the outset, I don’t particularly agree with the comments made by Jimmy but considering the man is first and foremost a comedian playing to an audience that likely doesn’t understand eSports, his jokes probably scored with the crowd. Good luck to him he got a laugh which is after all his job. Comedians have been using niche activities (and don’t kid yourselves, despite its massive growth eSports are still a niche) as the basis for comedic routines for decades. The gods alone know how many jokes have been made at the expense of gamers and “geeks” over the years but hoping that someone’s unborn child contracts AIDS or that their sister is sodomised is hardly a mature reaction. I saw hundreds and hundreds of comments threating Jimmy with bodily harm and sexual assault. I even saw one thread that fantasised about bombing the studio and laughing as the crowd got what they deserved for supporting Kimmel. It would be like if I wore a green shirt down the street and someone made a comment that they didn’t like green and I reacted by threatening to rape and murder their entire family. That is how stupid these reactions are.
The bile this simple comedic routine attracted was downright disgusting and once again gaming was thrust into the mainstream media, not as an entertaining way to pass the time for the whole family, but as a haven for bigots, racists and foul people. It makes me want run out onto the street and yell to the heavens that these people don’t represent me. I have people I work with that wouldn’t know Pacman from Pokemon commenting to me about how my favourite hobby (that I am constantly beating the drum for) is in the news again because of a personal attack on someone who has a dissenting opinion. It makes me ashamed, I don’t want to be associated with these people in any way, shape or form. The sad state of affairs is however that the internet has given bullies, misogynists, racists, homophobes and downright vile people the ways and means to intimidate and abuse those who disagree with their view on life.
Perhaps the saddest part of this all is that these reactions are over video games. Video Games people! If important topics were waterfalls then gaming would be an overflowing sink. People are threatening the lives and sanity of people over something designed to entertain. Gaming is not curing cancer or solving world hunger. In the grand scheme of world events gaming is not even a blip on the radar. I get that games bring out passion in players, they certainly do to for me, but passion is no excuse for this behaviour. In fact this behaviour is inexcusable and should be shunned by gamers in general.
So if you are the type of person that has ever threatened someone with violence because they disagree with your opinion or verbally abused someone because their gaming views differ to yours then I am writing this for you. Just stop. Stop the hatred, Stop the bile and Stop the abuse. Not only are you causing potentially damaging psychological harm to the recipient of your rant but reinforcing common perceptions of the hobby you claim to love. Your behaviour is rancid and abhorrent and in no way do you represent my gaming friends or myself. The internet doesn’t give you the right to abuse, belittle or threaten. You are not wanted in our community, you are a virus in our midst, you are a stain on our beloved pastime. If you feel that this behaviour is warranted then I suggest you seek immediate psychological help because you are clearly damaged. Most of all however you need to just fucking stop.