LFTE: The Highest Court (Aug 11) - GIAndy Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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LFTE: The Highest Court (Aug 11)

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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  • All I could think of that whole time is the barenaked ladies song "E eats everything"
  • Well put sir! Not having a ton of friends who play online, I often avoid doing so simply because I find "the Beavis effect" exhausting. Even if the comments aren't directed my way, I always feel sort of ashamed just to be there. PS- I like that this is filed under "jackasses online"
  • Most of the unpleasant gamers I come across, appear to be unsupervised children playing M rated games. I think that it says more about post-internet parenthood then gamers specifically. When youth are faced with no repercussions for saying inappropriate things, many will. The sheer volume of children yelling the N word into their mics, has completely turned me off of mainstream FPS games. All I can do is go through the motions to report them, and hope some form of punishment is brought down from mods. I agree that this makes all gamers look bad, but I don't see anyway that we can make anyone into better parents. This trend is not slowing without stricter communication rules, which would be a burden on all of us. If I'm not free to talk trash to my friends, did that headshot even really count?
  • Agreed. There's a reason I mute everyone I play with online.

  • Obviously I'm trolling, but "What would Darth Clark say?"

    Seriously though, I'm frequently playing Halo Reach online, and I haven't encountered heavy amounts of d-bags that will attack anyone in more personal ways than mere teabagging. Maybe that's part of the problem though, but who really wants to change that?
  • Anonymity is a cruel thing. It provides a barrier in which the worst of human action comes out. When your actions don't have consequences, why not act? But I agree. Gamers are venomous, at least in some games. My worst experience by far was with MW2. Yeah, there were children, but even worse were the "adults" who acted like they owned every thing and could do whatever the f*** they wanted. That meant slurring all over the place, insulting anything that moved. It was so sick. And to top it off, SO MANY more adults complain about "kids". It's awful. Who do "kids" learn these behaviors from in the first place? I haven't had a very bad experience after leaving MW2 behind though, truthfully. I don't miss it. In most cases, when I get on the mic, I make friends, not enemies.
  • I completely agree with you. I do not play games online, simply because of the other gamers. Most of them are more focused on being better than everyone else, than actually playing for fun. I much prefer single player or co-op because I an choose who to play with.

  • I am curious about the kind of people who are using hate speech online. I wonder if its a child's parent using video games as a babysitter, or if the anonymity allow for people act in ways that glosses over not being comfortable with who they are, or not dealing with a painful situation. If those are the cases, in what way can the gaming community to help gamers who might need it, and help clean up our matches?

  • It's unfortunate that anonymity breeds anger online but what can you do besides using the mute button and playing with friends? There will always be the minority who ruin online gaming for the rest of us.

  • Wow I started to feel it right at the end and thought of my baby-boomer dad who thinks that since I play video games I must be the most unpopular guy at school when in reality if you don't play games it seems like you Lose talking points with just about everyone this was really why I felt obligated to buy games such as CoD so I wouldn't feel odd when people talked about there rcxd kills and I had no clue what they were talking about.

  • Have to agree all the way. I rarely will play online without a friend on as well. I'm normally cool with trash talk. Seriously whats not fun about gloating a bit. But then there's the people who take it too far. Then its just a friggin pain to be on the same team as them. Though it is always good to hear the one guy who comes out, and tells them to shut it.

  • I think the real issue is not people in online matches but the majority of people who frequent 4chan's /v/ board.

  • Could not agree more. I have never been able to fully enjoy myself in games like call of duty or other competitive online shooters because the ratio of assholes do human beings is so out of whack.

  • Hit that mute button and only chat with those who want to work together and joke around. If you mute them u don't need to worry about it. This is not something that is going to change over night. Mute those people they won't be heard from again.

  • I couldn't have put this better myself. I never play MMORPG anymore because of it, FPS's are dead to me. The guy who plays video games religiously needs to connect with other gamers too, but can't because with mommy and daddy watching every move you make people don't know how to behave themselves. It says a lot about society as a whole, that even in a simulated reality, we can't co-exists.

  • This was beautifully written and had me nodding the entire time I read it.

    Great job as usual, Andy.

  • I'm glad someone else is tired of saying, "That's what the mute button is for."

    Hitting mute is like turning your back on a bank robbery. This has turned into an epidemic that could destroy online gaming. If you can sue a fast food chain because the cup didn't say, Caution: Contents may be hot, then why not about a death after online trash talking? This almost happened once before, the only difference was, the two guys involved were sitting on the couch together.

    Hopefully, some of these gamers hiding behind the veil of anonymity, will read this article and realize their maturity level. I did say hopefully.

  • ... i think its an age effect... the internet is still young, many people haven't developed nettiquette yet. they will, and at least here on gi its pretty nice.

  • Just my $0.02:

    The fact is that gaming, like most leisure activities, is an amoral endeavor: it requires neither morality, nor the lack of it.  Therefore you will find the best and worst of humanity, and everything in between, in the gaming community.

    That being the case, and all things being equal, you won't find the "battle" won in any way other than perhaps a small increase in civility as the gaming community is firmly established in all age ranges (with the generally calmer, older gamers balancing out the rude ten year olds who should never have a copy of CoD in the first place).

    Another alternative is stricter regulation, and I'm not sure you (or I, or anyone else) really want that.  It seems like an invitation to quash creative freedom and impose nanny state laws on a generally harmless community.

    The last and best option is to be a good example to other gamers.  Don't be afraid to say that some things are right, and some things are wrong.  I'm not talking about imposing a morality system on anyone.  Let's just start with the simple recognition that a few behaviors are generally unacceptable, now and always, and make sure we pass that understanding on to other gamers.

    It may not seem particularly fulfilling, and there's little in the way of instant gratification.  But it's our best chance to make things better.

  • I haven't personally had too much of a hard time with this, but my brother has.  Some of the stuff he told me that he had to put up with online kinda turned me off of most MMOs.  When I decided to do online gaming, I had to tell myself that this type of stuff happens no matter what online game you play and that you can't let it stop you from having fun.  Besides, if anybody annoys me, I just press the ignore button and never hear from them again.  Thank you to whoever created the ignore button!

    Anyway, I think that people outside the gaming community should take it upon themselves to learn more about all of us, rather than just judge us based on the inappropriate behavior of a few bratty, foul-mouthed kids.

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