Monday, September 29, 2014

State of Mind Status Report: NG

Over the past few years, I have worked to be actively involved in gamer culture through WoW raiding, frequenting forums, and, of course, writing this blog. While I haven't developed the same presence as successful streamers and respected community figures, I definitely feel like I am part of the in-group when people talk about gamers, and the struggles of the gaming industry and how they affect its customers automatically feel like my struggles. When YouTube was originally set to buy out Twitch, that was news that affected me and everyone around me. When the last of PopCap's founding members left the team, I stopped to consider to the ramifications for the company and for the fans of its games. Despite its recent land-grab-esque growth and inherent focus on the fictional, gaming is a business that revolves around people, and it's a large amount of them. Whether or not they consider themselves "gamers," over a billion people worldwide technically are.

Not actually me.

Yet, while I feel generally proud to include myself in the more "hardcore" demographic of online gamer, there are times when I just hate it. No, I am not a self-loathing gamer who is ashamed of what I do for fun, and no, I don't think gaming is an idiotic waste of time. The problem is the community, which can range from the dregs of the anonymous internet to the supportive and intelligent debaters of (some) forums. As much effort as companies put into making their social environments hate-free and promoting camaraderie, either it's not enough to keep the racist/sexist/oppressive attitudes from invading our virtual worlds or it just hits the all-destroying event horizon of the internet and the work becomes all for naught. When I see the "douchenozzle backlash," which is what I call the gamer version of "conservative backlash," to women branching out in the industry or hearing highly racist comments that are written off as jokes in voice chat, it makes me wonder over and over if this community is even capable of reform. It's enough to make me want to back away, not giving up gaming altogether, but rather focusing my creative efforts on another area like music or fiction, where the emphasis is on creation instead of competition.

Unfortunately, this isn't a qualm that I solely associate with the gaming subculture or the internet. In fact, I'm becoming rather disenchanted with the world at large: the constant struggle against conservative backlash, not just minorities but also the general public losing rights it thought it already had, and in the end, nothing progressive ever getting accomplished and everyone living oppressed and in fear. There's no way to back away from all of this, and more and more the fight seems futile. Someone please tell me that we've even achieved anything that hasn't been taken right back by the status quo, and maybe I can still have faith that the gaming community and this planet have chances at becoming decent places.


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