Opinion: The Ugly Side of Gaming
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 4/11/2014
Written by Dustin Murphy
Gaming is something that is supposed to be enjoyable, a leisure of sorts so that we can escape from stress, annoyance, and or just to relax after a long day doing the activities that has filled the day. Though sometimes, just sometimes gaming is not the funnest thing. Gaming we would have once thought was a community where we all got a long, where each individual would help the other out, and that was a thought long cherished till recent days.
What this article is about is everything that gaming shouldn't be, things that have appeared, and things that should just not exist in it. After a few days of finally debating this article and how to write it, the words finally have come forth. It started by simply sitting on the Google+ forums, reading forums, and even seeing flame wars break out based on who has the better console, the false statistics, and even clear down to racism. It is true that society is very diverse, very different for each individual, and that presents conflicts of all sorts, but is it really worth a sub-culture war within itself?
After speaking with several fellow gamer's, journalists, and just enthusiasts, it was interesting to see their take and reactions to the posts I had bookmarked, forum pages that were there, and of course the reactions of other people. Does gaming spark hatred? One of them had stated from what he saw, experienced, and even has gone through, gaming itself is a subculture of society, it is a culture that like any - is very alive. Our anonymous response also had stated he was not surprised by XBox gamers, PlayStation gamers, or even PC gamers flaming eachother, and purely hating eachother based on a console of their choice. It is something he himself has experienced since his day one purchase of an XBox One and of course a PlayStation 4, which lead to the question, why? His response was simple, "it's because of the games. Not who has the better graphics, the better controllers, but based on what I am wanting to play. They just don't seem to take care of this or see past a stupid blind hate. I've experienced this before when mentioning in a Battlefield 4 lobby on XBox One that I needed to go, a few friends wanted to play Blacklight Retribution on PS4. What came out of their mouths was quite disturbing. I was called everything from homo to traitor and words quite a bit more vulgar. Unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me if gaming could spark violence. If it can cause hate, why not physical actions based on such?"
Our conversation went on much longer where I got to understand the stories he went through, ones which seemed much like a few encounters of my own. After talking to a few other people, the responses came around the same, and what was a bit more frustrating was the sexism that the few female gamers I did speak with have encountered. One of these women let me quote her with the following statement:
"It's not easy being a female gamer. I get told to show them my chest, send nude pics, or even prove that I'm a gamer by listing some of the most famous franchises out there. It's not hard to use the stereotyped answer that I grew up playing my dad's NES with a copy of Duck Hunt or even the Super Mario Bros., which came in a dual cartridge. The worst part of it all is how guys will hound you for being female. If you stop talking? They start messaging, if you tell them you have a boyfriend, they will make fun of you and instantly the flaming starts. They think the female gaming community is something hyper sexually charged because of games, movies, and even cosplayers. It makes it hard for me to even plug my headset in during a session of World of Warcraft, League of Legends, or when I play a single session of Call of Duty with my boyfriend. The frustration it causes shouldn't be surprising though. It's something that happens quite often anymore. I've just learned to ignore it and tell them I'm a little kid. Then the squeaker flaming starts. In a lot of ways, I can't say I'm proud to be a gamer, not if I have to be put into a category with a hardcore set of people who are rather close minded. I've stopped most of my gaming lately because of this."
Her statement, which I've seen and experienced while playing with her, remains quite true. Unfortunately, the community has become a bit hateful and even brash due to the invisible internet wall, which allows people to become who they are not. With the industry heading the way it has, the internet has grown and allowed people to create a sense of security that was never present before. This also leads to a new form of moderation that companies like Activison-Blizzard, Microsoft, Sony, and even a few other major companies have begun to take measures in. Allowing for in-game moderators, report systems, and of course ignore systems. However, the question comes down to the ideology of - how well does it work? For many of us that have used the ignore, mute, and or report system, the results can be promising. With companies such as Activision-Blizzard, Microsoft, and Sony having implemented report systems, they are able to check the game logs, voice chat, and even actions that have lead to such an event. This sometimes can turn into an account ban, game ban, or even a "cool down period," unfortunately it doesn't always work. Gamer's will create new accounts and once more proceed to their bullying.
However, does this correlate to the effects of video games and violence or frustration caused by a gamer that leads to violence? I'm not going to say they can't, I'm not a doctor, but what I can say is perhaps the community can. With a community that can be cold and calculating, at times it can only lead us to wonder; when will enough become enough and gamers become gamers? This is a question no one can ask. The thing that we must remember is that where a gamer is, a gamer should be, and no matter the platform, we are all the same. We experience our games based on preference. Be it mouse and keyboard, joysticks, and or voice commands. Perhaps a touch pad. The reality of it is, no matter what platform you are on. In the long run, we all experience the same story, same gameplay, even if the graphics are slightly better or worse.