Since Cliff Bleszinski left Epic Games he's become, as he stated at the beginning of his PAX Keynote earlier today, "that guy who talks crap on the internet all the time". His talk at PAX was an extremely personal one — covering his early youth, the bullying he went through in junior high school and the impact of his father's death on his future life as a game designer. But amongst it all, he said something very interesting about video game violence. It was a broad statement, but I think it has merit.
He said that, while "old men" like to use the topic of video game violence and its impact on young men to get ratings, in all his years at conventions he's never seen a single fist fight. He then compared that to sporting events which, of course, has its fair share of fisticuff action. Gamers, he said, are a gentle species.
It got me thinking about my own experiences at expos like PAX.
PAX East is crazy. There are 70,000 human beings here, a large majority of which are young men. Conditions are cramped. Super cramped. I've had accidental elbows to the ribs, I've had to shuffle past people. And the queues... there are queues for everything here, literally everything.
You'd think this stressful situation would be a massive catalyst for at least some act of minor violence. All it would take, you'd imagine, is someone verbally calling out a queue jumper, or getting aggro during some sort of multiplayer game. Maybe one of those accidental elbows hits the wrong guy at the wrong time — if this was a music festival, for example, there's no way this many people in such an enclosed space wouldn't result in some sort of violent altercation during the three days.
But no, Cliff is right. Nothing. I haven't seen any kind of violence at any of these events I've ever been to. Ever. I've witnessed my fair share of dickheads do minor dickhead things — but never has it ended in a physical confrontation. And better still, I've never had that feeling; the weird tension that arises in clubs, or pubs when you're just aware of an atmosphere, or the possibility that something bad could kick off at any second. Shows like PAX are completely devoid of that.
It's not scientific and of course it doesn't prove anything really, but it is a point worth making. We are lovely, we are docile and we treat each other with respect in real life. That is a very cool thing indeed.