Okay, Okay…perhaps not the “wilderness” that Bear Grylls pretends to survive in, but rather the one in our very own gamer nooks and computer screens. As a proprietor of clowny gamer entertainment for over four years, I’ve met some great people, discovered some amazing games, and successfully dodged the assholes. However, if it weren’t for those very assholes, I wouldn’t have been able to sit back quietly in the shadows collecting the data that made this article possible. So…thanks?
“Thanks, sir. I’m doing my best…“
Over time, I’ve accumulated a kick ass group of individuals who love gaming for the same reasons I do. So as a solid to those who may be struggling to find their own niche and realize how awesome they can be, I’ve compiled this list of five tips to remember when navigating the mean streets of being a gamer.
Don’t Break Your Stuff
Rage quitting…we all have our own interpretation of if. Whether it’s jabbing the Power button after Drac spanks your ass for the umpteenth time or chucking your controller to the ground with the G-force of a speeding rogue Ferris wheel, we’ve all experienced the mind-numbing frustration of losing, even though we were trying our best, dammit!
Way back, I talked about my experience of living with a gamer who consistently snapped his Nintendo DSs in half, punched TV screens, angrily thunked CDs and accused video games of “cheating” whenever he lost. I found this distressing, but had trouble addressing it with him at the time because I was a guest living in his house. However, it was my time as a silent witness to this that I discovered the financial ramifications of these violent outbursts.
Gamers come in all shapes and sizes who work in various industries. The TV puncher worked at a local payday loan office, where he was paid an undisclosed hourly wage. According to BLS, folks in this industry make an average of $18.85/hour, which comes to roughly $39,210/year. After I had moved out, he took on his old job as a cashier at a local fast food franchise, where his yearly wages plummeted to $19,310/year while still living in the same dwelling. That’s about $20,000 LESS than what he was making at his old job, while still going through multiple electronics at about 5-6 new console/handheld purchases per year! Needless to say that he was unable to sustain this rate for long and even worse, was unable to escape the veritable deathchoke of life because he broke all his shit!
Wah, wah, wah…
It simply doesn’t make much financial sense to continue repurchasing items whose sole purpose is to provide a pleasurable audiovisual experience. Not to mention the fact that the destruction of these awesome machines is an affront to everything that we’re supposed to love when we shed our 9-5 adult vestments. You getting mad because you lost your ass AGAIN? Turn it off gently, walk away, and retry when your head is clear. You want to be the best? You better be ready to walk your funky ass through the fire and flames. Stop taking your anger out on the piece of plastic you’re holding for your own inadequacies, and it’ll be there tomorrow when you’re ready to try again.
Seriously, quit meme-ing this shit, even if the cool nerds are “doing it”.
Don’t Engage in Online Abuse
Fag, cunt, bitch, noob, etc. All of these historically hurtful words have been flung around in chats and forums so much that they’ve become a quasi-acceptable form of online interaction. Granted, the word “cunt” is thrown around much more loosely in other countries/cultures where it doesn’t quite hold the same sting that it does here in the States, but it leaves many asking where that invisible line lies. When does friendly trash-talking devolve into abuse? To find out where that is, ask yourself this: “Is this person my friend?”
With over 2,000 followers and a comparable amount of accounts that I’m following on Twitter, I subconsciously know how to effectively communicate with each and every one of them. For example, my good buddies over at Retroholics called me a “clowny fack” constantly and I get all warm and fuzzy inside when they do. However, if some random prick I don’t know did the same thing, I’d question what their motive was. There was even that one time on GameSpot when a couple of asshats tried to long form bully me because of my opinions regarding the Wii U. Regardless of how hard they came at me, I kept my cool and attempted to rationally engage them, fruitless as it was.
The point here is that I had no prior rapport with these two individuals, whose responses could be construed as a personal attack instead of engaging in an actual discussion. I knew going in that these individuals were not there for a calm discourse as evidenced by their attempts to call me out as a “delusional fanboy”. I believe deep down that we all know our own limits regarding online interaction, but the friction lies in trying to find the community that fits us best. Instead of constantly trying to swim against the waves, why not consistently engage with those that we’re comfortable with on the level that we mutually agree upon, and only venture out into new territory when we’re feeling strong enough?
If societal change is your goal, good for you! But be ready for all-out war because in the end, we cannot change people; they can only change themselves. Healthy debate is possible, but online abuse should not be tolerated. Why set yourself up like a bowling pin when you find yourself talking to a clueless mouth breather? Sounds like a recipe for failure to me honestly, so why not break the cycle?
Gaming: An Equal Opportunity Hobby
Protections are afforded for many employees here in the States thanks to a little thing called EEO, or equal opportunity employment. Protections against discrimination and harassment typically include gender, race, creed, color, religion and more recently, sexual orientation (sexual identification pending). So what does a gamer look like? Well, anybody! That old lady that runs the desk at your local dentist office, the portly dude behind the counter at the comic shop, or the kid at the playground whose parents recently got them a tablet. Seriously, gamers don’t wear uniforms or are otherwise obvious to the naked eye, so trying to shove them into a uniform box will never be possible, no matter how much we want to do so.
Human beings in general like to slap labels on everything: boy or girl, gay or straight, black or white, etc. Labeling is a natural human instinct as we awkwardly flail around on this muddy rock, but it also contributes to some of our deepest societal problems today. Racism, sexism, hatred and stereotypes are all around us, so why allow it to invade this beautiful hobby of ours? Isn’t the whole point of gaming supposed to be an escape from the harsh realities of this world and nerd out over the epic awesomeness that it encompasses?
I used to work in a stuffy, clown-unfriendly office where the majority of the workforce were white millennials in their early to late 20’s. In their eyes, I was just “another brown kid” (read “Mexican”) that comprises less than 5% of the workforce in the tech industry, when in fact I’m a blending of at least 5-6 ethnicities which include German, Irish, Hawaiian and Filipino, none of which include Latino to my knowledge. One of my best friends at this job was a 25-year old black male (who are even less represented in this field), and he was as big a video game nerd as I was. I remember him endlessly fan-girling over the release of Batman Arkham Knight and us laughing our asses off at Batman’s inability to kill even one baddie, no matter how many times you beat his ass!
Seriously, it’s hilarious!
However, to everyone else on the predominantly white production floor, he was just another “black guy” who was socially awkward and possibly dangerous due to his acceptance of Japanese sexual culture (NSFW-ish) after he lived there for a number of years. Sadly, an ill-timed discussion of the latter while at work effectively alienated him from his female coworkers, but he found a much-needed friend in me through our mutual ousting by conventional office culture and love of video games.
In essence, we found ourselves on the fringe due to many of our coworkers’s endless obsession of slapping labels on everything and the subsequent stereotypes that come along with them, and mutually joined by an amazing hobby. While most of them were focusing on our skin color, we were hanging out in the corner nerding out over the newest Steam releases and optimal PC specs. In other words, two humans who share a deep love of video games.
We’d all be better off seeing the humanity within everyone who is a part of this amazing hobby, regardless of what’s readily apparent. Bottom line, stop tripping about what’s on the outside and focus on what’s inside! You still want to use a label? I’ll make it easy for you: assholes and non-assholes! You’re welcome!
Respect Each Other and Yourself
Seriously, it’s simple. We all know what it feels like when a clueless asshat like Jack Thompson tries to piss on our pixelated parade or when the media otherwise tries to say that all gamers are angry basement-dwelling neckbeards, so why do we continue to do it to each other? For example, I don’t see the point in Activision continuing to release more Call of Duty titles because they seriously look the same to me. However, the big heads that run the place see the franchise raking in a staggering $11 billion over its lifetime and say “why not?”. That’s a lot of people who play Call of Duty, many of whom I’m good friends with online. Who am I to tell them that their favorite series sucks when I haven’t even sunk more than 30 minutes into one single title?
The line gets even more blurred when you consider mobile gaming. Some of my favorite franchises have moved to or reside exclusively on iOS and/or Android, including Sword of Fargoal and Flappy Bird. If I exclusively played iOS titles, would that make me any less of a gamer? I would think not, but I believe many of you would. A couple more unpopular opinions that I hold include: 1) thinking Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is awesome, and 2) believing that Konami is still capable of making great games. Whenever I pop off with either one of these on Twitter, I’m bound to attract a troll or two. Rational discourse is one thing; unfettered irrational anger is another.
I barely dodged this one when I last logged into GameSpot.
And none of this includes the unwanted sexual advances that cosplayers of all genders may experience at conventions or the all-out anger/harassment that comes with simply being a female in the industry, whether she is a developer, fan or marketing grunt. Admittedly, many of my fellow IRL nerds are straight-up awkward when it comes to the opposite sex, and it is sometimes externalized as anger whenever they fail to make a connection. “X person doesn’t like me, so I just won’t talk to anyone new anymore. All women/men are the same” sounds familiar, right? As prevalent as it may seem at times, it just isn’t right.
I always find myself dismayed because the solution to all of these maladies is quite simple: respect. As in, respect for yourself and your fellow humans. Mad that the hot Blood Elf cosplayer wasn’t willing to leave the convention with you? Respect for yourself and her would result in you accepting the rejection and walking away with your head held high instead of calling her a “slut” and/or attempting to grope up on her against her will because her outfit means that she was “asking for it”. The same applies when you see someone enjoying a game you think SUCKS! Respect would prevent a hateful message being typed at all, much less sent.
Don’t be that one weird guy who whipped his dick out and pissed onstage at a New Zealand anime convention, the sleazeball thinking that all cosplayers are nothing more than a piece of meat, or the simple-minded troll that leaves shitty baseless comments on forums. Respect your fellow gamers regardless of what they’re packing in their pants or what they like to play, and respect yourself. Simple, right?
Play What You Like
Want to hear a fun fact? There is no superior platform, only games that are all targeted towards various audiences. From those who enjoy the realistic jiggle physics and sweat animations of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 to the cutesy pie goings-on in Animal Crossing, there is literally something for everyone. Whenever a new controversial title is announced, the discussion on whether or not the industry has become more inclusive is renewed. Did Destructive Creations begin development on Hatred intending for it to find itself in the library of an “unaware” 9-year old (yeah right, kid)? Or did Rockstar develop and market Manhunt aiming for an E rating? I hardly think so.
I propose this: instead of striking up a petition to end development of Metroid Federation Force or complaining about the chainsaw kills in Bestheda’s E3 DOOM trailer, why not allow these games to be released for their intended audiences and only cry foul if an obviously adult-oriented game is misrepresented as a family-friendly title? As a parent myself, I would be upset if I bought a game for my kid that I thought was about raising fluffy bunnies after reading three separate reviews, but it turned out to be an explicit sex simulator that features kitten decapitations and retirement home arson.
And there were no survivors…
As for myself, I enjoy violent games like Manhunt and DOOM and feel that the industry would wither and implode if we allow some anonymous group to decide what we can and cannot consume. If someone enjoys playing Dead or Alive, who am I to tell them that they’re wrong? Tecmo Koei is aware that their game is highly sexualized, have never represented it as being anything it isn’t, and enjoys generally favorable reviews from their target audience. Even better, Tecmo Koei continues to make some serious yen, with a 1.4% increase in revenue from FY2015, which was a record year by itself. Regardless of what the sensationalist media outlets have to say about it, developers know what they’re doing, their target audience generally enjoys their products and the companies who make them continue to turn a profit year after year.
Why are we wasting precious energy trying to force our beliefs on others when we could be venturing out to discover what we personally enjoy? Stop the social media diatribes and quit telling others what to play. If I’m going to be forced to play what someone else feels that I should play, I’ll forever put my controller down right motherfucking now and I believe that you would, too.
TL;DR: Respect your games, yourself, your fellow gamers and play whatever the hell you want.