We’ve all seen or heard them. The angry forum user who lashes out against anyone, the opponent or teammate with a microphone spewing a stream of obscenities at random players, or just another gamer who will speak to how poor your choice of game was because he or she chose something else.
Why are we gamers so mean to each other? As a social group that is often stereotyped as wearing Zelda t-shirts and being socially awkward why is it seemingly so common that we are fighting each other more often than we are supporting each other?
You could certainly write some of the comments off as the vocal minority speaking louder than the quieter, more friendly gamers, but I feel it goes beyond that. There should be solidarity among those who calls themselves “gamers,” but we’ve seen a console player talking down to by a PC player, or a “hardcore” player ranting how the “casuals” are ruining everything. If we, as gamers, wish to see the stereotypes and the negative connotation of being called a gamer vanish then we must relax or repress our rage, and be more welcoming to new gamers and those with different interests.
Part of the problem resides in the very specific and numerous divisions within the broad category of gaming. Because there are such clear lines drawn between different genres of games and the different platforms they appear on there may not be a lot of cross over between genres and platforms in terms of the people actually playing the games. The situation is almost asking for conflict to appear between groups of gamers since we already divide ourselves willingly by the games we play.
Most people will know rather quickly if they enjoy role playing games, first person shooters, sports, strategy, creative, or mmorpgs. Once we set ourselves up in our comfortable confines of our gaming preference and spend a lot of time within that sub-group of gamers we may find ourselves thinking alike or feeling a real connection to the small community. Then when the day comes that someone from the “other” platform/genre/or even just another game within your genre sets foot into “your” turf often times the reaction is akin to a Shark Week feeding frenzy. I don’t use the verb “rage” lightly; but what Ive personally read or witnessed in a scenario like the one I described can be safely described as those gamers raging against other gamers.
I understand why people get angry. This new player might waltz onto the scene claiming he or she is the best or that they know everything already and that can be annoying to say the least. That doesn’t mean that the proper course of action is to begin spewing nothing but hate in their direction, everyone has been “that new player” at some point in time. Even you. Yes, you.
Sure, we may have been the polite new player who didn’t talk much, or who read up on the forums and strategy guides, but I think it’s safe to say that everyone has asked a stupid question or two regarding a game in their lives. It’s innocent and simple questions like, “How do I get to x location?”,”What is that item/weapon?”, or just a simple “Hey I’m stuck on something can someone help?” that really showcase how angry gamers can be with each other. Instead of providing a simple tip or even just a suggestion on where to find the answer, the most common response is telling the person the wrong information on purpose, followed by laughing at them, then commenting that that player must be new, topped off with a cherry of homophobic slurs.
We can see this situation play out hundreds of times a day, yet we still wonder why doesn’t the general public like gamers? Why does the media always blame video games for bad things?
Most people are wary of self-labeled gamers or might make the occasional joke at our expense, but with behavior like that, I think we;ve earned that. If our actions towards new gamers are any kind of indicator perhaps we, as the gaming community, have shown people that most of us are angry, spiteful, and not willing to open to newcomers or the “outside world.”
Solving this requires a united community effort to be more welcoming to new gamers, or even just gamers from a different title/genre/platform. That means no more hating on the stereotyped Call of Duty players, no more jokes about World of Warcraft players who might have more achievement points than you,and no more PC vs Console wars. Even if its as small of an effort from each person as actually helping or honestly answering a couple of questions about their game of choice a day, that kind of action adds up over time.
If the gaming community as a whole, or even as a majority, paid more attention to welcoming new players into our numbers or embracing gamers from across the divide of a genre or platform, we wouldn’t just be more welcoming, we could reshape our image in the public.