Negativity in Games - Enough, Man

Let's not just focus on the negative.

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.

Oh, Internet

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

Daydreamer

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".

-Greg Magee

@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
  • Shane Bailey
    Just the type of article I've been looking for. I made a conscious decision many months ago to no longer participate in any negative or negatively-spirited video game discussion on the internet. For a hobby that we're meant to love and hold dear, the amount of hate that is vomited from the keyboards of so many gamers is worrying.

    So thank you for this Coatedpolecat. It made my night finding someone else who is just as passionate about this issue.

    I'm in the process of starting a video podcast by March 2014 that will be about nothing but celebrating video games and saying thank you to developers for their creativity, time, effort and passion.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Well, thank you. I'm glad it was a refreshing read for you.

    I really enjoy pointing out the positive side of gaming. I also like solutions rather than just complaints too.

    Let me know if I can do anything to help with promoting a podcast that focuses on positivity 'n' what-not in gaming. Coatedpolecat at gmail dot com.
  • Shane Bailey
    Thanks a lot, that'd be great. I'm shanebailey@live.com.au
    I'm in the process of purchasing equipment and getting a name sorted and such. I also do a video games, movies and TV podcast at theawesomeaddiction.com if you want to check it out.

    Just read your other two articles on the positivity of video games as well and they're equally as enjoyable.
  • Ste Grainer
    Featured Correspondent
    Hello and welcome to GameSkinny, Shane! Your podcast sounds great. I hope you'll stop by again and share it with us when it's ready!
  • Germ_the_Nobody
    Correspondent
    lol Thanks for linking me to this. I was really starting to feel alone in the way I've been thinking.
    It has seriously been driving me mad how people have been acting over "sexism" and "racism" in gaming and just all the negativity in general.
    I just game to game. WTF?
  • Mat Westhorpe
    Featured Columnist
    I too am often dismayed by the behaviour internet users think is acceptable. It's disappointing that the shield of anonymity and the lack of consequences is all that is required for so many people to feel free to abuse.

    I see it as a simulacrum of civilisation. As time passes and more civilised areas are established--like the ones you highlight--those who can't behave appropriately will find themselves ostracised.

    That's my hope anyway.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    I hope so too. I feel we're slowly drifting towards that now.

    Glad you enjoyed the read.
  • FallenWings
    Contributor
    The raging and flaming that dominates every game for new players is according to me a type of primitive behavior, wherein we gamers discourage and mortify our own fellow gamers and those new to this type of abuse and emotionally weak decide to quit playing for good. Positive articles like this are what is needed for those ppl to hold on to while they traverse their newbish phase.

    tl;dr:Nice article.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    that's funny, I have an article in "draft" status that speaks to that and spotlights a positive group of folks.

    Hope you'll enjoy it.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    there's others just as concerned on the site. Be sure to help out your fellow Gameskinny peers, check out and comment there too. :[)
  • jackie keaton
    Contributor
    This was a very true article.. Great read for me..
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    glad you enjoyed it.

    I've written a few other positivity pieces, this is just one of three. Feel free to check out the others. I even have another one in draft. Hahaha

    I really do think its important to highlight positivity in games. Thanks for the opportunity to ramble.
  • Federico Senence
    Featured Contributor
    Very nice article. I'm a long time gamer myself and I'm still shocked at some of the stereotypes that still plague gamers. Far too often people like to focus on the negative and easily forget the positives. It was nice to read something like this for a change.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    well thank man. I may have to print that comment off... Best I've gotten; thank you.
  • Big Chief 1
    Featured Correspondent
    This is a great article.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    well thank you. I've got a follow-up article sitting in the lobby. I really want folks to start discussing the good things that happen with games. I feel like its the best way to combat the negativity. :)

    Again, thanks for taking the time to read the article. This topic means a lot to me. Feel free to share with anyone. It's both shameless promotion, and a genuine desire to possibly change someone's hateful slurs... Very unlikely, but I can dream. Hahaha

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