For all intents and purposes I was born a gamer, and I decided early on to "boldly go where no man had gone before." The first games I played were in ASCII. In particular, one simply called Super Star Trek that used the letter E to represent the Starship Enterprise, and K to convey the vile Klingon warships. If those stars made of asterisks were any hotter, I think my screen would have melted.

I moved on to better things with more advanced graphics like the Atari 2600, but my love of gaming was born in those early ASCII days connected to what was, at the time, a ­super ­computer.

When I met other gamers as I grew up, I was astounded they were as fascinated by games as I was - gaming was a glue that held my early friendships together. My father even made games for me to play, so I learned to love and respect the effort and care that goes into making a game.

If this sounds like some love letter to gaming, it's because I want to drive home a perspective of respect for gaming and those that dare to call ­themselves ­gamers.

I think you can understand why I never thought there would come a day when I would find myself appalled by another gamer, as I always thought that gamers were better, smarter, and faster than normal humans who didn't share my passion.

The sin I speak of is the way gamers interact and behave from the anonymity of the Internet (Epic design director and outspoken gamer Cliff Bleszinski once called it "the Beavis effect" which has stuck with me as a great descriptor). Now don't get me wrong, I am all for trash talk. In fact, I think I'm quite good at it. Giving my friends grief for poor play or making smartass comments is just part of the camaraderie and fun of gaming. However, far too often gamers use online gaming as a way to insult people on a personal level regarding their race, their sexual orientation, or even something as simple as how they speak. It doesn't just happen occasionally in passing. It is a relentless assault on good taste in game ­after ­game.

I often refuse to play games online without friends due to the fact that the gamer community is so cruel and heartless. This truly makes me sad, as I expected more of gamers.

Gamers and the gaming industry just won a major victory in the Supreme Court, but I feel our biggest challenge is in the court of public opinion where we have to show the world that we aren't childish idiots who spew slurs anonymously while mowing down virtual avatars. We need to show the world that gamers are just regular everyday Joes who like to blow off a little steam in a match online and can do it with respect for ourselves and others. When we win that battle, I'll feel the same level of respect for games and gamers I had when my E attacked a K. Otherwise, this childish behavior will always be the black eye that keeps the rest of the world from respecting the medium.

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