Meet PASSIONGAMER4CHANGE. As the capslock might suggest, he's not only a man with unfettered passion, but also a man on a mission. A mission to help establish gaming as the most important medium of our time, capable of making us cry — the ultimate metric for Something As Profound Art.
I like to call him by his Twitter handle, RPGsbebroke, or if I'm feeling affectionate, "urrpeegee". It's a nod of respect, an acknowledgment of his being the most important figurehead in our industry who should be called the equivalent of "You-Know-Who" instead of Voldermort.
RPGsbebroke is my favourite "real hardcore gamer", a phrase lacking so much meaning it's completely appropriate that he's not even real. RPGsbebroke is a fictional satirical personality — like the Stephen Colbert of gaming — with both a hilarious Tumblr and a Twitter account.
It's doubly appropriate that he's not real when you consider that he'll be the first to tell you that the real world kind of sucks and we should abandon it to go live in the perfect, pristine world of video games instead.
This social media works together to create a character that's reasonably fleshed out — at least, as well as a character in a triple A game might be. He's got a roommate, Derrick, who is a Call of Duty bro and parents who refuse to purchase RPG's every gaming whim and probably ask him completely unreasonable questions like "can you go outside today?" and "can you pause your game for a second?"
They don't get it like he does — almost nobody does. That's because RPGsbebroke is an extreme representation of the disillusioned gamer who believes gaming has lost its roots, and that game journalists don't represent the interests of the everyday gamer.
Enter RPGsbebroke, who holds the answers to all of these issues: opinions. Armed with thoughts on just about every controversial games issue, RPGsbebroke is here to take gaming back and help mould its glorious future as the medium with The Most Potential Ever.
He may not be the best writer, hell, he may have some trouble with even basic spelling (which I personally find endearing), but he's got the only thing that matters: passion. This stance allows the persona to make some incisive commentary on the state of the games industry and those who are the most vocal about what it is and where it should go.
For instance, here he is on games becoming ubiquitous:
dont want 2 b ‘mainstream'
ok yall heres a major problem. you know how you like a song and then it is used to advertise the ipod. or outback steak house. or some hybrid cars. then its ruined and you feel kind of ashamed when it comes on yr windows media player.
or when you wanted to make a difference by playing aeris theme on yr piano and put it on youtube only to find a 1000 other ppl did the same thing.
i felt like it wasnt as meaningful anymore.
feel kinda mad ogre battle march of the black queen came out on virtua console bc now everyone heard of it.
now some guys mum can just go play it when shes done with her we sports resort or whatever CASUAL GAMING
yall you know i love my readership here at rpgs be broke but i dont want yr mum in my world, sorry
feeling kind of violated right now.
His blog is full of gems, but the real treat has to be his Twitter account — where he can regale us with his thoughts often.
Joke Twitter accounts are a dime a dozen, and there's plenty of fantastic video game ones — like Persona_ebooks. The reason I'm so fond of RPGsbebroke in particular isn't just that he's funny, and it's not my extreme penchant for horribly misspelled words. It's that he is a reminder of what the most dangerous idea in the industry very well might be "passion".
Passion is divisive. It creates an us-vs-them in a misguided attempt to preserve gaming in the secret fort that many have felt safe in before games were a thing that even grandparents played. That's the difference between a "real gamer" and a "casual gamer", isn't it? The former group "actually cares", allegedly. They have passion.
This concern for the medium manifests itself through limitations of what the medium should be and who is included. Passion creates a landscape in which only a certain type of person — like the caricature of RPGsbebroke exemplifies — and certain types of game are acknowledged, rendered legible. This is why it's not uncommon to see people poking fun at those who play "casual games", or why we constantly debate why titles such as Dear Esther can even be considered games in the first place.
And yet the industry preys on passion. The number one thing you will see on job ads are development studio looking for people with "passion", who are willing to sacrifice a good portion of their lives in extended crunch periods to make the same types of games that they grew up with. Passion is a unifying force that allows companies to justify exploitative work practices. It's passion that drives people to both write about and make games.
This further ensures an industry that is insular in the types of games it produces and who it produces them for. This type of developer is perpetuated even in outlier development, as the recently released Indie Game: The Movie shows us. Anna Anthropy puts it best when she says there is
one narrative of game creation: one in which straight white guys who grew up playing super mario sacrifice every part of their lives to the creation of personal but nonetheless traditional video games (all of the games in the movie owe much of their play and visual vocabularies to mario) for sale in a commercial marketplace.
this story will inspire some ten-year-olds to do just that: to devote themselves entirely to making their dream game. but it may not inspire, say, a young adult woman to realise that she can dabble in game creation without having to sacrifice her entire life to it, that there's room for hobbyists and part-timers, that game-making isn't just for men or for people who were raised playing nintendo.
RPGsbebroke speaks to this reality — where gaming culture is chained to "passion". I'm amused by the persona's cringe-worthy antics, to be sure. But RPGsbebroke is also a staunch reminder of why it's so important to change the type of problematic behaviour and ideology gamer culture likes to perpetuate. The industry doesn't need 'passion' as desperately as it seems to think it does.