Polybren / Member

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There's something wrong with gamer culture

So I wrote this article this week:


which got about a 99.9% negative response. Then we recorded this Quoted for Truth episode:


Which got a slightly better resposne. But it was this response above all that salvaged my weekend and made me think that maybe we, as gamers, have some hope after all:


wow I tended to lean on the side of chastising that taiwanese gamer for irresponsibility, but really Brendan makes a great point that stopped me dead in my tracks. Especially since I refuse to buy Blizzard games by the very nature of their "exploitative design". So If my feelings extend to the extent of boycott why not have the decency to empatize with someone else's plight. I really hate being wrong, but I made a misjudgement here. Huh...I truly learned a beautiful lesson today.

The longer I think about it, the more convinced I am that gamer culture, as it stands today, is harmful. We only come together in massive displays of unison in order to hype products, as you might see at Comic-Con and PAX. But we are capable of so very much more.

I managed an arcade in downtown Austin for a couple years, and it was the gamer regulars that often gave me a safe ride home at night after we closed at 1 a.m., or even just killed a work shift here and there playing Magic: The Gathering. They were the people who just loved games and wanted to help others out, the people whom I would never suspect of short-changing the till or cheating a customer. I walked away from that experience with a profound appreciation for the kindness and generosity of "my people," of those branded "nerds" or "geeks," of those who understood their interests could make them pariahs but embraced them anyway. But recent years have me second-guessing myself, and the community I once considered to be "my people." I've seen too much hate vented online for no good reason, too many dead people responded to with too much apathy.

It appears to me that gamers have a serious empathy deficit. And I almost don't care if politicians sieze on this point to bring about wrong-headed legislation, because we've brought it on ourselves. Every right comes with a responsibility. The right to free speech comes with the responsibility to say something meaningful (or at least not harmful to society), especiallly if you're going to tick everyone off and hurt people with what you say. And as near as I can tell, there are fewer than five AAA games in the last five years that have tried to say something more significant than, "Hooray for whatever our target demographic wants." We have the genesis of a new art form here, perhaps the last truly original art form humanity will ever produce (what frontier is left after the audience can personally interact with art?), and we have wasted it on the idea of shooting foreigners in the head to give adolescent violence fetishists a cheap thrill.

[EDIT]: I've given the matter a bit more thought, and since realized that I have overlooked some very good things gamers do on a regular basis, like the Child's Play charity drive. That said, I still believe there are negative aspects of gamer culture that we must first acknowledge and declare to be unacceptable before we can make them better.