A reader worries that the behaviour of gamers is becoming so extreme it’s making him question whether he still wants to play video games.
Over the last few years I’ve become increasingly self-conscious about my love of video games. Not because I’m embarrassed to admit I enjoy them to those that don’t, but because I’m worried I might be associated with what has become the dominant stereotype of a gamer. In the old days it used to be a socially inept teenager who never leaves their darkened bedroom, but that was always tied to the age of the person and the implication that as they grew older they evolved into a more well-rounded person.
The modern stereotype owes something to the old classic but has become much more unpleasant: a perpetually angry, self-centred bully with fascistic tendencies. Someone who issues online death threats as an ordinary part of conversation and who can only see the world in black and white: as something that either conforms with exactly what they want or which, by deviating only slightly from their personal desires, represents a gross betrayal that fully deserves people’s lives to be ruined as a result.
We see this happen all the time, to varying degrees, and it’s become so commonplace that it now often goes without comment unless it’s particularly extreme. Just recently I’ve seen people review bomb Death Stranding on Metacritic (before they’ve had any chance to play it) for some imagined slight and Nintendo has had to cancel an event for Pokémon Sword and Shield in Japan because fans are angry about Dexit and the fact that Game Freak didn’t work themselves to the bone adding 500 extra pokémon, that we’ve already seen, to the game.
That comes in the same week that EA FIFA staff had their personal Twitter accounts hacked after a player was banned for bad behaviour and streamers started insisting they shouldn’t be banned from online games if they cheat. And then back in September an American teen was convicted for his role in a swatting incident that left someone dead because of an argument over Call Of Duty.
I’m sure you could add your own examples to this list very easily, as well as much less extreme incidents of everyday interactions, including on this site, of gamers that seem to exist in a permeant state of righteous anger. Not to mention spouting, racist, sexist, or homophobic language that makes it clear they think every single video game should cater exactly to their wants and no-one else’s.
It’s frankly scary when you get one that fixates on you, especially when you remind yourself that the thing they’re angry about is a video game. Something that is purposefully designed to be a trivial piece of entertainment and nothing more.
Of course, not all gamers are like this and I like to think there’s a much higher proportion of ordinary, sane games fans here than elsewhere on the web, but my concern is not only how common it is to come across an angry gamer but how it’s been normalised to the point where it no longer raises an eyebrow unless it’s really over-the-top.
I don’t know what’s worse: the idea that someone is getting that worked up about a video game or the idea of how they must act when something actually important goes wrong that they don’t like. And yet I suspect that games probably are the only thing they’re like that with – because they’re something that seems controllable and predictable and the few times it’s not they can’t handle their world being turned upside down.
But I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist. All I do know is that my love of video games is being severely tested every time I’m reminded about how a significant number of fellow gamers act and treat other fans and the people that make the games they supposedly enjoy. Gamers really are the worst thing about video games and it’s putting me of the whole scene entirely.
By reader Ashton Marley
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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