Gamers Are Idiots
And Here’s Why
Uh-oh, here we go. Another clickbait-y article with a clickbait-y title, here to get you react and click on it. And, well, you’re kind of right. It is a fairly clickbait like title, not going to lie, but it isn’t a false statement. Since you’re already here, you might as well see what I mean by that. Frankly, a group of people that once were subject to many negative stereotypes have become something far worse. You see, gamers are typically not the “loser living in their mom’s basement, or “nerd with no social skills” that society likes to pretend we are. As games have become more mainstream we have become such a diverse group of people that “gamer” doesn’t imply much at all. Games are enjoyed in so many ways on so many different platforms that the definition of “video game” is not clear, and therein lies the problem.
Probably not your typical gamer
The Community of Gamers
With gaming culture finding its way into so many different walks of life, naturally more people are going to become part of the community. I’m a strong proponent of striving for and celebrating diversity, but… well there’s no vetting process. You’re gonna get people as they are, for better or worse. Unfortunately, “worse” just so happens to be louder and deliberately more vocal. This is probably the biggest support of my gamers are idiots claim right here: the gaming community is toxic. Everyone who has ever played an online game has experienced some form of harassment, EVERYONE. Women have to deal with pointless, rampant sexism. African Americans have to deal with racism (and sexism if she happens to be female). Homosexuals have to deal with homophobia, the list goes on. Yes, this includes straight white men, privileged as they are, NO ONE is safe from this kind of harassment.
It doesn’t stop there either. Quite a few gamers are passionate enough to seek out forums of similar, likeminded people who like to discuss the things they enjoy. Online forums and comment sections can and should be a great place for civil discourse, but instead they all too often devolve into flame wars and deliberate trolling. This behavior is simply unacceptable, and no one has anything to do with it but the gamers who endorse it. In any given community, there are some bad apples. But you know what they say about bad apples, right? If you’ve never done anything like what I’ve discussed above, good. You’re a decent person. Be a great person. Stand up to this behavior and let those people know it will not be accepted. Don’t feed the trolls, but don’t be a bystander either.
Closely related to the above, is the issue of blind fanboyism in the community. A significant portion of the flame wars and abuse that are rampant in the community occur as a direct result of people blindly supporting the companies/games they like. Guys, fandom is great. It’s good to be passionate about something. It’s good to celebrate the things you enjoy, but you don’t have to bring others down to do that. It’s possible for two things to be great at the same time, even if they compete. And you picked one over the other, cool that’s your decision and it’s just fine. Why can’t you respect someone else’s decision? This behavior is really bad enough, but then we get to the even darker issue of blatant hypocrisy.
This is a disturbing trend that pervades even, and especially, through gaming journalism, that I certainly hope never infects yours truly. I’m not gonna state any names because this isn’t a hit piece, it’s merely my humble opinion being brought to all of you, but I have seen this behavior across several major publications. I am sure all of us video game journalists are aware of the rampant toxicity that can be found online. Instead of taking balanced, fairly critiquing positions, these outlets appear to merely ride the wave of the online hate and make claims that appeal to what they perceive as the masses.
Again, I don’t want to report any specific names, but I have seen articles by a certain author that claim, for example, that Nintendo is “lazy,” and “you don’t care” citing specifically a lack of upcoming games. This, just before printing an article celebrating Nintendo’s impressive games lineup only a few months later (these articles are quite old, from the Nintendo Wii era, but a little bit of searching should find them).
In the intervening time, Nintendo’s release schedule did not change much if at all. It is okay to be of the opinion that Nintendo’s upcoming releases are not very good or outright bad, but to be of the opinion that the lineup is devoid of content but also great? Highly questionable. This isn’t the only example of this behavior (certainly not the most recent one), but I remember this one specifically because it convinced me that I wanted to become a games journalist, to bring a level of integrity to the medium that I felt was lacking in bigger outlets. But I digress.
Look, as journalists we are the public faces of this community. It’s a responsibility deserving of respect, and to disrespect by not striving for fair and balanced reporting and instead devolving into a representation of the worst, (not even the good parts! THE WORST!) aspects of the community is not okay. Game journalists are gamers too, and even we are idiots.
Perhaps one of the most important, yet least talked about issues with gamers in particular is the problem with exploitative practices by video game companies. “But wait,” you ask. “How can a company exploiting ME mean I am an idiot? I don’t TELL these companies to mistreat their own consumers!” Well, bucko, unfortunately you do. Video games can and should be works of art, but they are a business first and foremost, and business is about making money. You might be thinking that video games are already quite expensive, so companies are making money anyway, right? Yeah… not quite. Video games are a tough medium. “AAA” games require tons of money just to make and even more to make a profit.
Yeah, it sucks that the EA’s 2K’s and Activision’s of the world release full priced, microtransactioned, DRM’d, slightly updated yet somehow still incomplete games with paid DLC to complete them, but you know what? They would not do that if it didn’t work. Like I said, they’re interested in making money, so they’ll only put out product that people are willing to pay for. If that means that they can get away with putting out absolute garbage for minimal effort for $60, then charge the player again for small, in game items, they’re gonna do it. The only way to stop these practices is to speak with our wallets.
If you don’t like microtransactions, don’t just ignore the microtransactions, you’ve got to ignore the game. The companies are only going to react to what they feel in their pockets, they could give a damn about a comments section and only marginally care about reviews. That we as gamers have allowed this and other anti-consumer practices to become the norm is entirely our fault, and that is stupid as all hell.
Have Gamers Always Been Idiots?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for inclusion, there’s nothing wrong with that. But now that we have become so inclusive (and society more accepting) all of the implications of such things have come to apply. It all used to be so simple. You went to the arcade (or laundromat for me) with your (mom or dad’s) quarters and you tried for the high score. You bought your console of choice, you came home and you played it. Sure, there were of course playground debates (Sega does what Nintendon’t and all that) and sure, kids could get a little passionate about these things but at the end of the day they were kids.
Kids are supposed to act up sometimes, but they never got to the levels of pure vitriol you see in gamers online today. And the arcade machines? Yeah, coin-op machines were a bit exploitative and mostly designed to get as much money out of the customer as possible, but you knew what you were getting into. At least those games were finished pretty much 100% of the time. Every problem that envelopes the games industry now? It’s on us, and it’s such an easy fix for every poor decision that you’d have to be an idiot to let it happen.
And yet we did.
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