I’m a gamer. I guess. That’s a term that people use. I’m not one of those people. Not usually. But for the sake of this article, I’ll make a concession. I’ve been gaming for a long time. Subjectively that is. Since I was about 6. My parents got my brothers and I an NES and that was it.
Cool story, but that’s not really the point. As any hobby enthusiast, I naturally find a lot in common with others that share my enthusiasm. I like talking to other gamers. Debating with them. Gaming with them. At least most of the time. Some of them I do not want to game with. Or even speak with. Some gamers I really just dislike.
Some gamers are just toxic to the community.
This is actually a bigger deal than toxic members an enthusiast group for any other medium. Like movie snobs, or literary philistines. While gaming has come a long way in terms of social acceptance, it still suffers from social stigmas that other mediums do not. People don’t yet think of games as an art form across the board. Heck, we don’t even know how to treat them legally, just assuming a game IP works exactly the same as a written or film IP.
Any members of the gaming community that show society at large that we’re “not worth listening to” or “not to be taken seriously” harm this very young medium.
In addition to this, with multiplayer gaming being such a huge facet of games these days (very few games can afford to release without a prominent multiplayer option), toxic players actually decrease the ability for other player to enjoy their play time. It’s like the jerk at the movie theater who keeps yelling at the screen. Or some guy knocking over sculptures at a museum. It just happens way more often in gaming (come on, when was the last time you saw anyone actually ruining your experience at a museum?)
So the first type of gamer I want to talk about it:
The Immature Gamer:
This category includes almost everyone you hate when you play multiplayer games. Simply put, these are people that are either ill suited to play with others, or are ill suited for the gamer their playing entirely.
It’s really easy to take pot shots are the younger crowd here, but that’s not entirely fair. As I said early, I started gaming very early. I played Mario and it was awesome. I did not have to worry about how I would effect the ability of others to enjoy their game time, because online multiplayer wasn’t a thing then. It is, however, a thing now. A big thing.
If you’re young. Game. Please. It’s awesome, and you should appreciate it. But please game appropriately.
If you lose your mind when you kill someone because “OMG I TOTALLY GOT YOU”, you are either 8, or have the mentality of an 8 year old. This simply means that you should stick to approachable single player games. Mario, as I said, is a great choice. Super Mario 3 is one of my favorite games ever. You’re not missing anything by taking out Call of Duty, promising not to tea-bag anyone ever again, and putting in Super Metroid or something. You’re actually doing yourself a favor.
The problem here is that if you’re too immature to handle a multiplayer environment, you shouldn’t put yourself in one, because it can ruin the entire experience for other people. This manifests itself in many ways, and it’s easy enough to identify these gamers. You can even ask yourself a few questions about yourself if you’re wondering if you fall into this category:
- Is your first reaction to blame others when you start losing?
- Do you speak down to do your team mates?
- Do you ever insult anyone you play with?
- Do you vocally gloat when you win?
- Do you not know what the term gloat means?
- Do you ignore criticism from rational team mates?
- Do you ever refuse to work with your team because “You just don’t want to”?
If you answered yes to almost any of those, then you should stop playing multiplayer games till you’re more mature.
The Insincere Gamer
These gamers have less to do with ruining the enjoyment of gaming for others in a direct way, and do their damage in a more roundabout fashion. I almost went with the word “Exploitative”, but the long term definition for this group is: Gamers who are chiefly disinterested in games, but rather interested in the image of “being a gamer”, or some other such ulterior motive.
I think the clearest example of this, and its repercussions, is the “girl gamer” example. Now to preface this (because I don’t want everyone to get up in a tizzy), girls should definitely game. Gender, race, or any other characteristic that one could be defined by should have absolutely no bearing on their ability to enjoy this great hobby. It’s also important to note that girls are not by any means the only ones that can be insincere, but the example is well known enough that this makes my job easier. If you don’t like it, even after all that qualification, deal with it.
So here’s my problem with the “insincere girl gamer”. Gamers, by virtue of their passion, are often extremely capable and knowledgeable about the games they play. If you love Street Fighter, You can damn well tell me the best way to combo into Ryu’s ultra. Or maybe you can recite Chun Li’s whole back story, or whatever. The problem here though, is that if you’re just feigning the “gamer image” and don’t really give two damns about the games themselves, people are going to approach you, strike up a conversation, and (and here’s the kicker you may not realize) instantly know you’re full of shit.
Really, it’s not hard. When I come up to you, and you say you’re a “pretty serious gamer. You play tons of Call of Duty (or some other such recent mainstream triple A title)” and I ask you what your favorite map is, and you say “The desert one”, it’s really clear that you’re not going to be able to sustain a real conversation about games. You might be a great person, but you’re not as serious a gamer as you’re pretending to be. You’re trying to actively mislead me, and I don’t like that.
As I said earlier, this is not a problem that’s specific to women who game. It has to do with coloring the impression other people have of any easily identifiable group. It’s the formation of an association bias. Another really easy example is age. The misconduct of young gamers (covered in the immature section) can easily cause people to make the assumption that all young gamers are immature. This is, of course, not the case. While 9 out of 10 gamers under the age of twelve may be unable to handle interaction with strangers over a multiplayer game, that 10th could be the best Soul Caliber player in their county, and there’s no reason they should have to deal with the assumption that their “just another mouth breathing kid” because of the way others have acted.
Here’s my nugget of wisdom for you: Just don’t lie about your interests. If all you play is Mighty Fin, that’s fine. You will find other players that play Mighty Fin, and you can talk about your high scores or something, but don’t get up on a podium and talk about how you’re totally awesome at Tribes. Whether they like it or not, people form biased opinions about other groups of people, and you’re only doing a disservice to those who are into gaming as much as you pretend to be.
Case and point? Can you imagine if I went to South Korea and started talking up how boss I was at StarCraft? I’d be laughed out of the room before I even got the chance to sit at a computer because there is such an association bias against “foreigners”.
Entitled gamers share a lot of overlap with immature gamers. Though this is a more specific classification, and really, you can be completely rational and mature while being pigheadedly entitled. These games labor under the notion that “If a game isn’t fun for them, it’s a bad game”. They don’t necessarily do harm to the medium, like the other two examples, they’re just irritating as hell to be around.
The distinction between these gamers, and the others on this list, is that the entitled among us feel that the games they play are somehow “done wrong” if the the gamer doesn’t have everything they want, just the way they want it, at all times. Die a few times in a shooter? They could have made a better game. Someone reach a milestone before them in an online RPG? The game is poorly designed. The ending wasn’t what they wanted it to be? The company should go back and change it.
We see the overlap with the immature gamers in that they believe they’re the center of the universe, that the designer should have their experience specifically in mind, and not the audience as a whole. However, I did say they’re not all immature. Some of these gamers are what I imagine someone might call “armchair designers”. They think they know how to make a better game than the people who do it for a living, and since they’re so smart, they deserve to have flawless experiences presented to them at all times.
The recent outcry about the Mass Effect 3 ending is a prime example of this. If you think Bioware advertised Mass Effect 3 as the culmination of many branching narrative pathways, and were let down because in the end none of the choices really mattered, that is fine. If you think that the ending was bad, because it was, that is fine. If you think Bioware has to go back and fix it, because god damn it you weren’t happy with it, you can piss right on off.
People who think that the games they’re playing owe them anything are always going to be let down, unless they’re playing Chrono Trigger or something, because no other game is perfect. This means that they’re always going to be unpleasant to play with as well as irritating to speak with about games.
If you’re one of these people, please stop, no one likes it.
I’m not a hate monger though. I love most all gamers. Just some more than others.