Musings on the Gaming Community - "Are The Kids Alright?"

jlgeromegladiatorial.jpg From or via GameSetWatch comes two interesting pieces, musing on something of the same subject - what is it about games that turns fans into a bunch of aggressively opinionated jerks (or is that just life, on and off the internet?)? On the one hand, any community of people is prone to in-fighting and hysteria (tripled if the participants can hide behind anonymity); on the other hand, are some of the accusations lobbed from mainstream media that unfounded? Michaël Samyn takes on the recent kerfluffle over Yak Minter's comments regarding Frogger and game reviewing in general. The comments section is very interesting, and gets at the community issue and game reviewing in one fell swoop. Leigh Alexander takes on nastiness on another level - far beyond frustrated developers whining in their LJ - and looks at examples of gamers behaving (very) badly, like the Jade Raymond/Something Awful cartoon debacle:

This column does not assert that games themselves are - or are not - the cause of this apparent escalation in hostile, unstable behaviour in our community. And it is an overall behavioral trend; two extreme incidents are are demonstrated here as examples, but take a glance at review archives alone and there's almost guaranteed to be, in the comment threads, a reaction to a reviewer's opinion that seems unnecessarily venomous, excessively upset. And nor does this column levy accusations against all of us as a whole; it's most likely that this encroaching trend of apparent hardening, of an increase in cruelty in our audience, is attributable to a vocal minority .... It's also important to note the positives that have come out of gaming communities online - friends supporting each other through difficult times, game-inspired charity organisations and events.

And yet. I once made the rather unpopular assertion that we must examine game violence and resolve our relationship with it in order to be justified in defending ourselves against the knee-jerk, sensationalised accusations of the mainstream media, politicians and TV psychologists using us to get attention. Unpopular though it may be, I offer that perhaps we ought to examine ourselves some more. What are we learning from games, from our anonymous online communities, and from our relationships with one another?

Regardless of whether you agree or (vociferously) disagree with either piece, they're food for thought. I really do think some amount of nasty arguments are simply unavoidable - but I guess the main difference between the gaming community and, say, the academic communities I'm familiar with is that the academics manage to be a little more mature while advancing their personal opinions, no matter how much they (actually, in real life) hate the person they're attacking. Then again ... it's the internet. And the most innocuous of topics can turn into a firestorm given the right prevailing winds.

'The Aberrant Gamer': Are The Kids Alright? [GameSetWatch]and Good games, bad games, ugly games [Tale of Tales]


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