The Internet has ruined video games and the world – Reader’s Feature

A reader makes a plea to gamers to just enjoy video games for what they are, rather than an excuse to get angry on social media.

You’ve probably already noticed but the Internet can be a pretty unpleasant place. 20 years ago the idea of having the entire history of human knowledge in the palm of your hand would’ve seemed like an impossible dream; one which if it was ever made real would surely be the beginning of a modern utopia, where instant access to people from anywhere in the world would usher in a new era of peace and prosperity where it was impossible to deceive or lie and communication between different groups would defuse conflicts before they ever began.

As you know, that’s not what happened.

It turns out a lot of people don’t like it when facts don’t agree with their preconceived notions of the world, so they just get new facts that do. Instead of social media encouraging you to mingle with people of all creeds it’s much easier to just enter a bubble where everyone agrees with you and you can demonise anyone that doesn’t. Rather than starting a new age of peace and understanding the modern Internet has create a post-truth world where nobody listens to anyone unless they already know they’re going to agree with them.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with video games, but I suspect you already know. Although I’ve been describing the Internet in general I could also be describing video game fandom specifically, which follows all of the above to the letter. And that hurts. Not only because it’s all so illogical and unnecessary but because video games themselves are so trivial. That’s not a criticism though, that’s their main appeal.

Often you’ll hear online people complaining about ‘keeping politics out of gaming’, as if gaming is some hotbed of political debate and satire. The truth is, of course, that almost no game has anything to do with politics at all and those that do, like Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy games, are the most likely to pretend they don’t – in an attempt to make sure they don’t put off any potential right-wing customers.

What the politics in gaming complaint usually comes down to is not having women or minorities in prominent roles, when really there are very few games making that effort anyway. Ignoring the fact that that’s an incredibly bigoted and self-centred way of looking at the world there’s very few games where this makes any kind of difference. If it’s a multiplayer game – like most popular games at the moment – you’re usually free to play as whoever you want anyway. If it’s a story-based game then there are still very few prominent female characters and even fewer persons of colour.

Those wanting to keep politics out of gaming are, I suppose, trying to keep it that way. Although I think rather than trying to close the door before the horse bolts they’re actually just outraged by the tiny increase in diversity we’ve seen in the last five years or so. Which begs the question of what they’d be like if there was actual fair representation for everyone.

As I’ve already outlined, none of this is unique to games. You can see it in other fandoms on the Internet just as you can see it in what passes for mainstream politics today. But since it’s my primary hobby it upsets me when the most common thing people argue about in games is whether there are too many women or whether one game vaguely implying that being a neo-Nazi is a bad thing is an act of political correctness gone mad.

God forbid anyone get upset at the few things that matter in gaming, such as publishers’ shameless encouragement of gambling in the young and vulnerable or their terrible treatment of their own workers. Or we could even maybe not get upset about anything at all and just talk about how video games are really cool and, in theory, a very positive way to spend your time.

The Internet brings out the worst in everyone and I think, now that we’re past the honeymoon period where we thought it was going to be a great gift to mankind, we need to recognise that. Yoda had it right when he talked about the Dark Side being quicker, easier, and more seductive. You have to make an effort to be nice to people and if there’s one thing the Internet era encourages above all it’s taking the easy route to everything.

Games aren’t being ruined because of political correctness, in fact they’re not being ruined at all – they’re better than they’ve ever been. But the discussion around them is the worst it’s ever been. That’s only going to change if we all make the effort to change ourselves. Which would be good not only for discussing video games on the Internet but the things that actually matter in life as well.

By reader Rorschach

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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