Finding The Good In Gaming: Journalists & Podcasters Weigh In

Let's take a good look at the positive side of gamers.

In the recent weeks I've felt a need to speak about the impact negative people on the internet and how it affects the gaming industry. I've highlighted some of the horrible things people are capable of saying over the internet to another real human being.  A previous article talks a little more in-depth about that. 

What I would like to do now is offer a convincing argument: a ton of good gamers out there want to play with other mature people. There are positive, personal relationships that wouldn't otherwise exist without these vital, if not pivotal, communities in people's lives.

The proof is in the pudding

There have been some recent articles that highlight some outstanding behaviour due to playing games.  A 12-year-old boy saved his sister from a moose and sighted World of Warcraft as his inspiration.  He did so by taunting the moose, which is something you're able to do in World of Warcraft, away from his sister.  Once successful, he quickly faked his death, again another trait from WoW, leading to the moose moving on about his merry way.

There is obviously not just one answer.

Another example is a 10-year-old boy who saved his 74-year-old grandmothers life.  While driving at a quick 60 mph, the grandmother stopped talking mid-sentence and lost consciousness.  The boy quickly took action and relied on his " Mario Kart " knowledge to coast the vehicle slowly into a muddy ditch.

The negative connotations a lot of people associate with gaming rarely get an extreme contrast (positive situations) to argue against it. Aside from any medical or educational focused game, just our everyday experiences with games and the people playing with or against us affects our decision-making in both small and rare cases as discussed.

Unforgettable moments

I've been playing video games since my earliest memories.  Frogger, Moon Landing, Tetris, Metroid, Myst... some of gaming's best. I had the pleasure of having a mom who also played these games, and enjoyed them. I can't begin to count how many hours we spent taking turns playing Zelda, Mario, and Road Rash

Without those moments, my family wouldn't be as close as we are all today. Without my early experiences with online communities (that means chat rooms, folks), I wouldn't be using this type of forum to discuss my views about games and its culture. I was originally involved with a "Seeing Angels" chat group on either Yahoo or AOL. Remember folks, I was 10. The beeping and screeching sounds followed by a dial tone to search for a dial-up internet connection will never escape my memory.

The Quest-tionnarie?!?!

These early influences shaped and molded who I was and partly who I am today.  I'm still heavily involved with a few gaming communities.  First and foremost would be Gameskinny. 

As an aspiring video game journalist, I have found this group of people to be very friendly and inviting.  So much so, I've slowly built up my confidence, passion, and quality of writing (by all means, there's room for improvement).

With all this in mind, I decided to take to Twitter and ask a variety of freelancers, bloggers, podcast-ers, and even grab a couple of editors to take part in a questionnaire about their experiences with online communities and where they hope to see our culture/communities go.  I found the replies quite profound and varied.

Tommy Roberts's (www.tommyr.net) earliest experience with online communities was with Runescape around the age of 9 or 10. On the other end of that spectrum is Leif Johnson, a freelance for several publications such as IGN, Gamespot, PC Gamer, GameTrailers, to name a few.  His earliest experience with an online community was the

"...Trivia Madness! channel on Yahoo! back in the day when chat was cool."

It would seem Gameskinny's own Editor-In-Chief, Amy White, had the most influential experience with DragonRealms. For her,

"...the players made the interactions, not NPCs or any linear story arc." 

I found that our earliest interactions online, when they go well, can influence us in a way that can change our perspective and how we judge others.  Some of these interactions can even lead to real relationships.

When you spend enough time with someone, you create bonds, stories, memories.

Leif Johnson achieved several "World Firsts"' while playing WoW with his teammates.  From this, he created invaluable friendships.  He's even attended a fellow WoW teammate's wedding as one of the groomsmen.

Myself and Jeff Rubin, (JeffRubinJeffRubin.com) of the podcast JeffRubinJeffRubinShow, have had no outstanding relationships flourish from online communities.  But I can agree with Jake Magee, the Editor-In-Cheif of Indie Game Insider, who said:

"I've never had a truly negative interaction with any journalist, developer, PR rep, or fan..."

I chose to ask video game journalists and podcast-ers is for their unique perspective on their communities. 

I find as a novice writer, I'm on the cusp of seeing this topic from an almost surreal perspective. Tommy Roberts is in a similar position as myself and agrees.

"After starting to write, you look at things much more analytically." 

Leif simply says:

"[You]...have a higher sense of responsibility... you can't just spew out a bunch garbage and call it 'criticism'" 

Which I whole heartedly agree with. There tends to be some type of confusion between the two.

How do we fix this misconception? How do we fix online communities?

Finding the good in gaming

There is obviously not just one answer to "how do we fix online communities?" What are some of the things we could do to improve  the overall quality of the user experience? 

Jeff suggests:

"...improved matchmaking... helps get similar people together."

on the other hand,Tommy says:

"...[when] people mass together, arguments are bound to happen..." 

How about anonymity being removed from the equation; would it work?

Amy White said it best with her full answer.

"It's a double-edged sword. People would behave better toward one another in most instances, but they'd also be more guarded. There are things people will post to Reddit that they'd never dream of putting on Facebook. Part of the reason people like online games is the chance to be someone else, and I don't think the industry would be where it is today if people were not afforded privacy. Arguments can be made for both, but there are certainly trade offs either way."

This is something I am of two minds. I can't say that my opinion really differs from Amy's. I only hope that the negativity is curbed in a way that works best for everyone.

I do think games and gaming communities can bring people together and help people socialize in a way unlike any other entertainment medium. Solely based on interaction with the player, why are we so mad at someone else for feeling differently? There's always a choice to decide what you type and what you say. 

Let's start building a better community with more experiences like the ones mentioned above.  The people I questioned are no more than just gamers, like you and me. The developers are no different from you and me. When will we stop yelling, and focus on the good in gaming?

Your thoughts?

So how about you? What do you think is a solution to negativity online? Should anonymity be taken away? Is that an invasion of privacy? What are some of your favorite stories from playing online? What online communities are you involved in? 

Feel free to sound off in the comments or just start this conversation with someone you know. 

@Coatedpolecat

Featured Correspondent

I'm a stay at home dad who writes about video games. I enjoy my family, video games, and music.

Published Nov. 10th 2013
  • Miranda Kirk
    Featured Columnist
    Great article! I agree with Amy about how taking anonymity away could be a bad thing, but on the other hand if you aren't willing to state your opinions with your identity being known, what's the point? I don't think it would be an invasion of privacy taking that option away. I think if people took a more personable approach with their opinions we wouldn't be as harsh with each other. But until things change I guess the solution is to just ignore it.

    At the end of the day if you get hate for something you put out there from some anonymous person-- you're sharing your opinion with people, while some random is doing nothing but spreading unproductive criticism.
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    Correspondent
    Oh man this is so good! Thank you for sharing this! It makes me want to write my own thoughts more and more. I've been wanting to write this kind of thing for awhile now and eventually I hope to do it. I'm just so busy lately and I'm trying to actually play the games I want to play when I'm not too busy to do so.

    I don't think getting ridding of anonymity would really matter. It might help but I don't really see it being that effective. A-holes are A-holes plain and simple. Sometimes we all can seem like an A-hole but the real ones are usually easier to spot.
    I can be an A-hole sometimes but only usually cuz I'm blunt. It's a habit I've got into because spelling things out for people and trying to talk rationally tends to get ignored. =p
    Anyways I'm not sure removing anonymity would have much effect. I think it's an easy scapegoat.
    People should just stop being a-holes in general.

    I'm always myself. I don't understand people that use the internet to pretend to be something else. I'm a good actor, but I'd rather be honest when I'm actually discussing my feelings and thoughts.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    I think it might help curb some folks but you're right, in the end a shitty person is just that.

    Thanks for taking the time to read those links, I look forward to your perspective on the subject. :)
  • Kc_8842
    I was kinda interested in a more advanced matchmaking for players.. I'm not sure if it is really logical or even feasible in the long run as games get older and less players/servers to perform the separation and still keep an active online environment.. For instance, GTAV provides a separate area for players hell bent on destroying other players property. I wish it was the same, and also understand and glad it isn't, while killing other players... but the possibilities of creating a profile and almost gaming social network within Xbox Live and others as well seems like a whole new way to enjoy a broader comradery with other games that you might not. Is this something that seem inviting to other gamers or barking up the wrong tree.
  • Tommy Roberts
    Featured Contributor
    Well written article which touches on an interesting and important discussion.

    P.S. That Tommy Roberts guy is great, isn't he?
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    yeah, he's just swell...

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