I Don’t Know if I Count Anymore…(Gamer Talk)

I’ve been playing video games since before I was steady on my feet. From playing Dr. Mario alongside my grandma, to using my early reading skills to play Nintendo era RPGs. When people talk about being an ‘OG’ gamer, I used to enthusiastically count myself among them. Video games have shaped my life, helped me see worlds I never would have experienced, and brought me together with some of my closest friends. So when the question comes up if I am ‘hardcore’ or if I am a ‘gamer’, I want to say yes.

Unfortunately, I’m getting old. I’ve always feared becoming a dinosaur, too old to realize why some obvious topic should be the way it is, but here I am. I never wanted to reach this point, but I feel ready to make the declaration and wear my scales proud.

Gaming has changed. Not just in the obvious ways. The systems are faster, stronger, bigger, beautiful machines that push out astounding graphics and action. I don’t care about that, I haven’t been left behind by what the systems are capable of doing. In comparison, my grandmama can walk into the room while Madden is on and she will think that an actual game of football is on. 

If anything I think the consoles still have some catching up to do, and their catch-up game is slowing down the PC market. 

No, I’m disturbed by the community. I grew up playing games, cooperative and competitive, and I can’t understand the vitriol. Maybe it is because when I was growing up, our communication was so stunted. Sure you could be a jerk in the chat of a round of Starcraft, but it took too much work. Why not just play the game, and if you were going to try to be a dick, do it in the closing moments before you win or lose. Sure you are still a terrible sport, but at least you didn’t drag down the whole game with it. 

I’m not saying that people weren’t rude in the past. I’m sure anyone could tell you stories of terrible neckbeard fueled ferocity from the arcade era to their first time in VOIP. Still, in my experience, we realized they were being jerks. Now we surround ourselves in an atmosphere of aggression, and I don’t feel like I can interact with video games without some part of the experience feeling negative. Negative responses to the company that made it, negative responses to the game itself, negative chat in the multi-player VOIP, negativity even in the chatrooms while it is being streamed. 

I understand that games are an avenue for removing stress and frustration, but does that require so much hate? I used to relax to calming games like kirby, or overcome difficult obstacles in adventure games. I enjoy working as a team to win multi-player games. I gain no joy from getting pissed off at a fellow player, a stranger, a teammate.

The world of gaming feels twisted now. The elements that should have vanished, like rampant misogyny and racism, haven’t. The medium has turned up the volume on the petulant child-like world that once felt like a misguided stereotype.

Whatever, I’m going to go back to playing Pikmin 3. I’ll get back to writing about something less negative next time, maybe holy wars.