Video games as an entertainment medium are relatively new, having only begun existing roughly 60 years ago and really only gaining mainstream popularity in the last 5-10 years. Due to their relative newness there are still a variety of growing pains and kinks in the system, there is still a lot of room for improvement on all fronts from the game developers on down to the gamers themselves. That being said, I’d like to take a little time to vent about some things related to gaming culture and the gaming community as a whole. As with all things and communities, there are aspects which we find to be annoying or frustrating. There are things that we dislike yet have to put up with on a daily basis lest we begin berating everyone else for everything contrary that they say, which is not a good way to go about disagreeing with someone. These things, these infuriating aspects, tend to build up over time making people like me increasingly cynical and disheartened about the state of things within the world of video games. These thoughts I will be expressing are real, this isn’t a momentary frustration but rather one that has been building up for a while now. It’s high time I finally expressed these sentiments publicly.
I want to make it clear that this article is me getting some things off my chest and sharing my opinions on a subject that I’m passionate about. It is in no way meant to call out certain individuals via passive aggressive means or to be inflammatory to any individual or group of people specifically. I am speaking generally with zero intent of offending any one person. If you feel that any of this is offensive to you on a personal level then it’s entirely possible that it applies to you. I take no responsibly for any guilt or anger you many feel. I may seem aggressive at times, as I know it’s nearly impossible to understand the tone of the writer through written word, but I assure you that I am indeed calm and collected. The subject matter is just harsh and there is sadly no way around that.
Excessive Complaints and Why They Irk Me.
Complaints aren’t an issue in and of themselves. They can lead to progressive change and positive new directions if expressed in the proper way. Complaining all the time about everything doesn’t help anyone, but complaining about the right things at the right times is definitely a great way to spark change where it is needed. The problem here is that the most vocal sect of gamers does nothing but complain all the time. The problem is that these complaints are usually not at all helpful to any cause. By that I mean that it’s not as if these complaints are necessarily made to evoke change in something that needs changing, it’s just whining about not liking something. It’s especially troublesome when it’s a constant stream of silly complaints such as “I already beat this game because I bought it at midnight and then sat down for 14 hours straight and beat it. It’s too short. I shouldn’t be able to beat it in one day.” or “Screw EA, they are such a bad company! I mean, I buy all of their games all the time, but I still hate that all they want is my money.” I hate these kind of complaints more than anything, it’s just making poor decision and whining or moping about something yet continuing to buy/do the thing you are not happy with.
It gets exhausting to open up my Twitter app, look at my feed and see nothing but complaint after complaint which aren’t at all legitimate or constructive. It’s one thing to simply vent about not liking a game you thought you’d like more, or how you thought a game was bad, etc. Everyone needs to vent (as I am doing now) and the internet is a great place to do that to an extent. There is a point in which it turns from venting to being excessively whiny and simply ridiculous. It’s especially bothersome when these folks try to take everyone else down with them. For example, there are those who reply to everyone who is talking about liking a game by telling them how wrong they are and how awful the game really is. I’m sure that you know exactly what I am talking about here, whether it happens on Twitter or some message board, it happens to everyone at some point. You say “Wow, this game is so awesome! I’m really having a lot of fun” and someone has to rain all over your parade by replying with “If you call mechanics that every shooter utilizes yet I found boring only in this game and 720p resolution fun, then sure. Really though, the game sucks.”
Another type of complaint that irks me is the type that seeks to make game developers change an entire game because someone didn’t like it. This type of complaint is mind-blowing because in any other entertainment medium, it would be unheard of. Directors don’t change movies because you didn’t like a scene, musicians don’t rewrite songs because you didn’t like the lyrics, athletes don’t replay games because you didn’t like the outcome. Why the hell would a developer change a game because you thought it wasn’t good? It makes no sense yet I see people complain all time as if they are entitled to have games remade for them, like developers should have to pander to their ridiculous needs. It’s embarrassing to see so much of this behavior within the gaming community as it is typically immature and simply idiotic. People like to forget that gaming is a hobby/lifestyle. It’s not a necessity, it’s a choice.
Basically, I find that if any complaint is one that intents to spark a change (for example: “There is a bug in level 7 that makes the game crash when looking through the window, I really wish Bethesda would fix that”) or simply venting about something you disliked in a non aggressive or hateful way, then go for it. If all you do is complain, regardless of how legitimate or understandable it is, then it’s annoying. If you always reply to people and complain to them about things they like which you didn’t, then it’s annoying. If you are just being a wet blanket because you didn’t like something and feel the need to constantly whine about how terrible it is when in reality it’s a video game, not a life and death situation, then it’s annoying. If you think you are entitled to anything you desire simply because you are paying for a game and feel the need to complain when something doesn’t meet your needs, then it’s annoying.
Speaking of Entitlement…
Entitlement is defined as “the fact of having a right to something” or “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment”. When I use this word to define ones behavior, I mean it just as it is defined. The fact of the matter is that many gamers, or at least the vocal minority, have a sense of entitlement when it comes to the video games they play. It’s one of the most disgusting and abnormal qualities of today’s gaming culture, in my opinion. The idea that we somehow have the right to anything we want as far as video game creation, development and sales go is ridiculous. Gaming in itself is a privilege, we choose to play games and those of us who play are lucky enough to have the money to purchase games, unlike those who are less fortunate. There is no right to a privilege, you do get to make unreasonable demands on something that is already completely optional.
If you are unsure about what I am inferring here, let me make it clear. This entitlement issue usually takes the form of gamers complaining (what a surprise) about something not being good enough, assuming they have the right to something better. I’m not talking about times in which folks complain about actual bugs and game-ruining flaws, as those are again legitimate complaints, I’m talking about personal preferences and minute details. These people act as if they are entitled to something better, something that fits their own personal needs, simple because they are gamers. In reality there is no logical way to give everyone every thing they want in every game every single time. It’s simply impossible. So the constant whining about this multiplayer mode not being like the multiplayer mode of another game in the series, a game not living up the hype, a game not looking absolutely lifelike, a game’s story or content not being up to a certain standard, or a game not holding an individuals attention for long enough are absolutely ridiculous.
Sexism. Yep, it’s still an issue and I cannot face-desk enough.
A lot of people like to kid themselves into believing that sexism is either not an issue or something that simply doesn’t matter. They tell themselves that “it’s not as bad as it used to be” or “oh well, you can move past it” like it something that is easy swept under the rug. People love to stand idly by as rampant sexism, gender bullying and general misogyny sweeps through this culture like a plague and pretend that it doesn’t affect anyone. If sexism doesn’t exist, then why am I asked while playing a game online to “show my boobs” while my male friends are not asked to show their bodies? Why am I told my opinion doesn’t matter because I’m “probably on my period” while my male friends, who say the same thing I said, are accepted and allowed to voice their opinion? I could go on in this vein of examples all day, all which can be answered by stating the simple fact that women are still not treated as equals to men in the gaming community. Plain and simple.
I’ve written articles about this, I’ve posted on Facebook about it, I’ve tweeted about it and all the responses I get are roughly the same. For every positive comment there are 10 negative ones, one that say I’m overreacting or creating an issue because I would simply like to be treated as an equal within this community, not as a sexual object or as a lesser minded individual based on my gender; I’d like to be treated like a human being. Apparently that is asking too much though, because this issue of sexism and misogyny not only still exists in the year 2014, as depressing as that is, but it’s gotten worse thanks to a moronic “movement” that began with the harassment of a women and saying “but journalistic integrity” a lot and has thrived on as a way of lambasting women for being women and wanting to play/make games too.
I suppose what annoys me most about this problem is the people who ignore this litany of sexism and harassment or discredit it. I’m not saying that everyone should be an activist like me, but forcing yourself to believe that this issue doesn’t exist simply because you either don’t want to deal with it or you don’t want to be a part of the solution is mind-boggling. It’s not as if finding examples of sexism within this community is hard to do, so the fact that people choose not see it just blows my mind. All it takes to remedy this issue is acknowledging it’s existence and treating women as equals. Again, it’s apparent that this simple concept is easier said than done.
I named this article out of frustration due to embarrassment, as the title suggests. Yes, I am embarrassed by the modern gaming culture. The excessive complaints, the entitlement issues and rampant sexism that are associated with the gaming community and the culture as a whole are an embarrassment to me and others who do not posses these horrendous traits. I know I am not the only one who thinks that these issues I mentioned are getting tiresome and making gamers look awful to the general public. I can’t be alone in thinking that the fact that most non-gamers still see gaming as something that is childish or not at all impactful on society is saddening. If you ever wonder why that is, why people think gaming is a waste of time, then look at those in the video game community who are to blame. What do we ever see on the nightly news about video games? Swatting. Gamer Gate. Harassment. Bullying. Whining. Violence. None of these are positive things, but they are what members of our community are doing, supporting or committing and they are what the public sees. These are people, not fictitious anomalies who only exist online by hiding behind anonymous usernames. The sooner we stop pretending that the issues within the gaming community aren’t real, the sooner we can go about fixing them and making the gaming lifestyle less of an embarrassment.
We can keep on skirting these issues, ignoring them and pretending they don’t exist or we can stop acting like children in order to stop being treated like children. I for one would like to see more maturity within this community. Some would suggest the problem is actual children playing games or that the perpetrators are part of such a small group that it doesn’t really matter, but I disagree on both issues. I’ve met kids who are more mature than some of the adults I play games with or against. Age isn’t a determiner of maturity. Those who are the troublemakers being part of small group is irrelevant considering they make up a very vocal portion of the community. They yell the loudest, so to speak, so their amount doesn’t matter as much as what they are saying. While the rest of us stand idly by and shake our heads, they are still out their running amok. It’s about time we held them accountable, stop letting the trolls me trolls and the bully’s be bully’s. It’s a simple solution really, but sadly it’s one that I have little hope of seeing come to fruition as the video game culture continues to become more harmful to itself than anything else. I can only push for change and hope for the best, and even that can’t last forever as my morale steadily declines. Working together as a community to stop being a bunch of sexist, entitled whiners would be ideal, but can this community actually muster up the combined maturity and intelligence needed for such an effort? Only time will tell, I suppose. Here’s hoping for the best yet preparing for the worst.