By: Ewen Roberts - CC BY 2.0

My Game’s Better Than Your Game

Before we begin, I want you to listen to a song.  It’s speed punk so it might not be everyone’s bag, and the first thirty seconds are bull, but listen to it and read the lyrics off youtube.  Go ahead, click the link, I’ll still be here when you’re done.

Yeah, this is a song about music culture on a blog about gaming culture.  It’s about juggalos and other idiots.  Parallelism in art forms is important though, because that stuff blows people’s minds.  Critics and artists share a lot in common, you see.  Most of us ended up doing what we do because the world didn’t quite get us.  We found that by expressing our opinions the loudest way possible, and in some cases making fun of someone’s teeth, we won.  A lot of us made pretty good careers out of being louder than everyone else.  The Angry Video Game Nerd and Yahtzee’s Zero Punctuation are fine proof, loud makes laughs.

2013 was the year we yelled too loudly.  We had the fake nerd girl controversy because someone decided to lump all skimpy cosplayers into a basket.  Pewdiepie, the biggest gamer on Youtube, found himself in a delightful sling war after one too many rape jokes.  Penny Arcade spent almost the entire year being lambasted by the Internet for using the type of humour it made itself famous for against its own people, and then getting nailed for it.  This made its own artist Gabe one of the most lambasted internet celebrities.

But, hey, that’s the macro scale.  These are the big name guys who made a name by being the biggest and the loudest.  Not so fast, bucko.  Let’s have a little sit down, because blind impotent nerd rage is clearly not going anywhere.

Nerd rage isn’t a new phenomenon.  The earliest noted instance dates back to 1958, when local Tolkien enthusiast, Jerome Parkinson, first flipped a Risk board much to the shock and dismay of friends and onlookers.

The problem is nerd rage rarely, if ever, is shocking.  Due to the anonymity of the Internet, we’ve come to have our own wonderful sounding chambers.  The biggest problem of debate is that, when other people are presenting their sides, people will often be thinking more about how to come back against that than what the person is saying.  There is an even bigger separation between us all on the Internet, as we can simply skip over parts of the debate we have no interest in, and skip right to the part where we call the person out for being an Obama-worshiping Commie.  Not that there’s anything wrong with being an Obama-worshipping Commie.

Choose any Game Grumps video, almost any, go ahead.  You’re likely to find endless streams of people yelling about the most stupid and mundane things.  My Little Pony and Furries and I Can Play This Game Better With My Genitals.  Pages of it.  Go play XBox and count the number of minutes before you hear something slanderous, misogynistic, or homophobic.  Count the seconds if you’re a lady or have an accent.  No wonder the media thinks we’re a bunch of violent neanderthals, we certainly don’t put our best foot forward.

Lowtax, creator of Something Awful, once made a wonderful analogy about the Internet.  He surmised that, surely, before the Internet, there were people that wanted to have sex with squirrels.  They existed, but no one heard of them, because they were one person.  They could not find another person to get their nuts off with.  But, then they found the Internet.  Already, an entire community based around squirrel rodgering!  Not just that, but it’s a fetish, and how DARE you judge me and my friends on my fetish!  I mean, their fetish.  Of course.

And lo, there came judgement, as these guys are weird and shame us all as netizens.  So they were lampooned.  They only got more defensive, and we only got more offensive.  It has come to the point where people proudly announce that they’re not jerks, they’re merely trolls.  It doesn’t matter what hat you put on a jerk, you’re still a jerk.  So came the bigger walls, to hold out the jerks.  We’ve barred our forums, and blacklisted them from our role play!

So now, we go from mountains to mole hills.  We’ve sheltered our defenses, and built our offenses against the big bad bullies.  I’m right, and I have at least three people that say so.  Let’s all say so together until the echo is deafening.

But we ran out of ammo at other groups, and we’ve turned against ourselves.  We are the snake’s head eating our own tails.  Go to any facebook page for any game.  There will be one person saying this is a pretty fun game.  There will be 10,000 people telling you which game is better, and trying to tell you exactly why you’re wrong.

It’s gotten so bad, we’ve made camps.  We have the Madden bros, chugging their mountain dew and high fiving.  We have the Nintentards, turning everything that can exist ever into pixel art.  And then we have the Indie Gamers, whiffing their own farts.  These are the paintings we’ve drawn of each other.  A vague caricature of a man stands behind each Halo fan.  I just mention the words World of Warcraft, and I bet you already have a particular episode of South Park in the back of your mind.  I ask of you, my fellow nerds, how many of you have condemned a game you’ve never played?  And then, made fun of someone for playing it?

I’m certainly not saying we need to all get together and sing Kumbaya while simultaneously playing Counter Strike and Dangan Ronpa.  But, it seems to me we’ve all forgotten that fun is subjective.  Fun is a unique, personal experience.  I have once had a long conversation with a man that legitimately enjoyed Superman 64.  It was fascinating.

We’ve been trained to consume negativity.  The crash of Sim City was followed by the entire Internet.  Kotaku had a running series chronicling just the problems of the game.  We ate it like candy.

As well, I don’t know about my fellow World of Warcraft players…I speak the name in only a hushed voice.  Even amongst people that get it, I am constantly asked why I’m not playing their better, fancier game.  Why am I not enjoying my time suck experience in Guild Wars, or Minecraft, or whatever better game they’re playing?  Because, I am having fun.  I don’t need to go to the store for milk when I’ve already bought the cow.  Or, paying monthly for subscribe to the cow, but I digress.

The quality of a game is subjective.  I can rank a game  I can give it, definitively, a 7.5/10 stars for overall quality of experience presented.  But I know, even when I state my opinions, they are my opinions.  Someone is going to absolutely love the game and make fan art of it.  Someone else is going to compare the developers to Hitler.  Such is life.

My plea to you, gentle youtuber, expressive neogaf poster, /b/-tard enthusiast, is to remember that we’re in this together.  From the lowliest Pokemon trainer, to the height of the Leage of Legends leaderboard, we all know what it’s like to love and cherish a game the world around us hates.  I’m not asking for the get back to the kitchen jokes, or go to hell furfag meme, to end.  That’s a wish saved for whenever I find a magic lamp.  Yes, let’s keep the debates of Saint’s Row vs Grand Theft Auto going.  We should never stop being vigilant, we should always have a critic’s eye.  But let’s stop making fun of our own friends for picking up Candy Crush and ignoring Papers, Please.  Let’s remember that not everyone is going to get The Stanley Parable, and that’s fine.

In the long run, no game is ever going to be built for me.  Hell, the game is not even going to be built for us.  Gaming does not even belong to gamers any more, it belongs to the world.  And, I know I’m going to blow minds here, that is not a bad thing.  We don’t need these walls to defend how we enjoy our hobby.  There are almost 183 million Americans alone who play video games.  There is room enough for an opinion for all of them.

So the next time you’re on a message board and someone mentions they’re having fun in a game you hate, take a moment.  Heck, if you’re so inclined indulge them and find out what they’re seeing that you didn’t.  It might give you a new eye on something you’ve missed, and a new reason to play.

Travis is a tech nerd that spends far too much of his time drinking beer no one drinks, listening to music no one likes, and playing video games where he rolls larger things over smaller things. He also makes Let’s Play videos and posts on twitter for grins and giggles.

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