I was afraid of stepping into the gaming side of social media for a very long time, concerned that it was a toxic cesspool of problematic views and targeted harassment. Thankfully, for a very long time I seem to have kept away from those aspects and my Twitter feed is generally full of positive, welcoming, supportive and inclusive people. It’s very pleasant most of the time.
However, I’ve seen some of the uglier side creeping in. Mostly that’s because the mutuals I do engage with kick all kinds of arse and are staunchly defending people, addressing those who seek to gatekeep or suck the joy from our wonderful hobby, so I’m only seeing the toxicity because it’s being – quite rightly – slapped down.
This week alone, I’ve seen silly takes like ‘X game is better than Y and if you like Y, you’re an absolute moron’ or ‘I don’t like X console and if you do, you’re as worthless as the console itself’.
The worst of this has come from an announcement that brought so many people so much joy: The Last of Us Part II trailer. If you need a quick primer on exactly how much this means to gamers everywhere, please check out my friend’s very pure reaction video here:
Now, I don’t watch reaction videos. I don’t think I’ve ever watched one before – so I could be talking out of my butt here – but was that not the most wonderful thing to be able to see and to share? Those people who tell us that games cannot be art, that games can’t touch us the way a painting or a movie or a play can – they’re wrong. So, so wrong.
It’s incredible to me, then, that people have taken this opportunity to weaponise that joy into an attack against other consoles and games. Look at these reactions, they say, and name one other series on any other console that affects people emotionally this way. Master Chief doesn’t do that, they said.
The thing is: that one example is pretty misleading. An FPS game where your character is a deliberately anonymous – albeit exceptional – soldier isn’t designed to induce the kind of emotions that The Last of Us Part II is. There are plenty of other story-based games on other consoles which people have an awful lot of passion and nostalgia for, that do evoke these very same emotions and reactions. Also: I’m sure there are people for whom a new Halo game induces that kind of reaction.
Why make this about a console war? Let people enjoy their thing and let other enjoy whatever they want without bringing anyone down. Is that so hard?
A similar hot take occurred recently with someone who claims loudly, passionately and repeatedly that he believes the Switch is garbage. In fact, he believes it so strongly that he inserts himself into conversations that people are having – in the cases I saw, conversations about being excited for their Switch Lite – to tell them why their console is garbage and believes this to be incontrovertible, undeniable FACT. His basis for this? The Switch is underpowered compared to other consoles (yes, this part is fact) and because of this, combined with the price, it is garbage and should be thrown in a dumpster.
I’m not even kidding; he basically states this as much as he can, with anyone he can – and when he’s met with calm resistance and the explanation that he has a right to his opinion but, you know, it’s just opinion, he blocks (but not before claiming that you’re spamming his notifications – presumably so he’s able to fool himself into thinking that he’s somehow taking the moral high ground). My first thought is: what a sad and pointless way to spend your time. If he really, truly despises an inanimate object created by a corporation that has never even noticed his existence, there’s nothing wrong with that – but why spend so much time asserting this bizarre view, at people who are already bought in to the concept and really don’t care? I mean, we know it’s underpowered. The horsepower of a console shouldn’t determine its worth alone; there’s an awful lot more to it than that.
I think there are two good rules for social media in general that these two examples demonstrate. Some people seem determined to bring others down to their level or ruin everyone’s fun. So please, I implore you, be kind and remember the two golden rules:
Let people enjoy things. Don’t be that guy.
Thanks for listening – be excellent to each other.
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