I’ve struggled the last week with a good topic to write about. I even came to a point where I just googled the phrase “video games” to see what may tickle my fancy. It did not take much internet sleuthing when I realized how much negativity was on the forefront of video games. These topics addressed machismo, sex, violence, and racism, to name a few.
As someone who grew up with games in the 80’s and 90’s, none of these subjects struck me as surprising, or inspiring. When I converse with another human, who also enjoys a good video game, very rarely do we start spouting out racist slurs, become rampantly violent, or start belittling women and doing blood-spit brother pacts. On the contrary, we usually discuss the lush and nuanced environments, the emotions experienced during a game, or even sometimes just how well written it is.
It seems within the past year we’ve heard stories of how terrible the internet and “gamers” are. Most of us have heard about the death threats directed toward a developer and his family after changing a millisecond of a gun firing in the beloved, multimillion unit selling, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Some of us are aware of the kid “gamer” who has served prison time over making death threats in a forum.
A lesser publicised story about the Bioware developer/writer leaving due to similar death threats. Then the one that stands out to me is Phil Fish, the creator of Fez. Fez won game of the year in some circles last year and had such high critical praise. To make a long story short, Phil Fish quit the games industry for good and cancelled Fez 2 due to the constant harassment.
I’ve heard many reactions to these stories. Reactions ranging from “…no one should have to endure such behavior” to the other side of the spectrum, “it’s just part of it”. After watching a recent panel on the Rev3games channel (YouTube), I was just astounded by I did in fact see and hear. Tara Long went on for quite some time, highlighting the abuse a female in gaming journalism endures every time they publish their work. All this is quite embarrassing to say the very least, and has left a bad taste in my mouth.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel
What I wish we heard more of were the more encouraging acts from gamers. To be clear, there is a large part of the gaming community that isn’t just unjustifiably angry with everything. I like to think that for every negative comment, there is at least an equal number of positive criticisms out there (somewhere, right?).
I know for a fact as part of GameSkinny.com that some gaming communities encompass a civil, mature, engaging group of people. All kinds of people, young and old, all over the world and with different backgrounds. I would like to highlight some of the positive experiences I’ve had in recent years. Being a part of the “gamer” culture, I find it just as important to highlight the good with the bad.
The person on the other side of the internet has feelings too.
The most current interaction I’m having with fellow gamers associate themselves with IGN’s Facebook groups. I interact with two of those groups, one being Podcast Unlocked the other is Podcast Beyond. Both groups are for their respective podcasts under the IGN banner on iTunes. The people that inhabit this virtual space are the opposite of the search results I found in the afore-mentioned paragraphs. Aside from the occasional rude person (I’ve seen one in the last 6 months), every last comment is relevant, mature, and usually helpful. It’s been a pleasant experience.
There have been many steps to help stamp out this online negativity. Major media outlets such as YouTube, and major gaming sites such as Polygon, IGN, OXM, Joystick, and GamesRadar are just outright denying the space for the negative comments. Some are just deleting the comments, others are actively getting ahead of these things by using filters for certain words. Either way you want to look at this, curbing death threats, racist slurs, and hate speech is never a bad thing.
Being a part of the “gamer” culture, I find it just as important to highlight the good with the bad
Nothing feels better than to give
To help highlight some good that gamers can do, when given an opportunity, I’ve highlighted some very effective and wonderful charities. There have been millions of dollars donated by gamers each year. Some of these charities will give the money to “research“. To the best of my knowledge, this research is usually about how games can help overcome different diseases (cancer, HIV, etc..) and be used for education.
- Childsplaycharity.org – Established in 2008, this charity provides toys, video games, and books to children in over 70 hospitals worldwide.
- Donategames.org – Since 2008, they’ve been able to offer games and like items to children with rare diseases. Donategames has an emphasis on creating and sustaining a charitable community. They even help fund research for gaming at leading institutions.
- Extra-life.org – Any gamer of any kind can sign up for free. Extra-life began in 2008 and allows for any kind of gaming to be a cause for charity. From lawn sports, tabletop, and video games, to just good old fashioned donations. All proceeds go to children’s hospitals.
- Ablegamers.com – Ablegamers has just opened a facility in D.C. to allow access for AAA developers and indie developers to learn about making games more accessible to disabled gamers. Grants are given to research teams, veterans, and children.
- Humble Bumble(s) – Humble Bumbles are basically bundles of games either at a very, very low cost or at a “name your price and pay” model. These bundles come from the likes of small indie studios to mass publishers like EA. These charities are varied, but usually for children or veterans
I just really hope in the coming years the next time I type in “video games”, something much, much more positive will come out of it. Hopefully I’ll be able to write an article about just the opposite. Until then, though, let’s try to think not just before we speak, but before we type. The person on the other side of the internet has feelings too. We all help shape and mold how society and culture will view us. As we grow in numbers so does our place in it. Let’s make it a positive one and “enough of the negativity, man”.