Don’t let the idiots own “gamers”

Forgive the lame title but I’m writing this on my lunch break and it takes me a long time for me to come up with good titles.

So Grand Theft Auto V comes out tonight and the reviews hit this morning. As I expected, they are glowing and heaping praise on the game. As I expected, I can’t wait to get my hands on it because I love the series, despite its many flaws. As I also expected, the comments are full of the usual hate-spewing morons. Assholes who didn’t play the game but are mad it’s getting less than a 10 (not an 8 or a 9, an actual 10 out of 10), people who are raging because it doesn’t have an announced PC version yet (OK yes, this sucks but come on people) and worst of all, people going completely batshit Internet because a couple of reviewers called out some apparently strong misogynistic tones in the game’s story. Now, I can’t comment on that and if you aren’t a reviewer, neither can you because we haven’t played the game yet since it’s not out until tonight but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I figured this was as good an opportunity as any to vent about something that’s been frustrating me for a long time. Aside from people still acting as if stupidity in comments is something shocking and new, it’s that any time this type of idiocy rears up around a gaming topic, be it a particular title, a pertinent social issue being discussed in the context of games or whatever else, I always see the flood of people tying a link between that idiocy and the gaming medium as a whole. “Gamers are raging again”, “Gamers are ruining the discussion”, “Seeing people do this crap makes me ashamed to be a gamer”.

This attitude drives me absolutely insane. Only with “gamers” do I see so many people who should know better, drawing a direct line between the entirety of gaming and its consumers and the vast minority of morons that inevitably perpetuate comment sections. I am a “gamer”, that is a person who plays and enjoys video games. If you’re reading this, chances are you are as well. I am not one of the idiots spamming hate in comment sections. Chances are, neither are you. To lump the majority of us (and we are the massive majority) who are likely smart, informed and engaged with the medium in with the idiots does a great disservice to and dare I say, insults us all. This kind of vitriolic drivel exists everywhere on the Internet that is poorly moderated which sadly, is most of the Internet. Movie forums, music forums, news sites, they’re all full of this crap. Don’t believe me? Go look it up if you dare. Yet, nowhere do I see all “movie goers” or “music lovers” or “newsies”(?) painted with the brush that’s soaked and dyed to its core by the idiots among them.

If you’re ashamed to be a gamer because of what you’re reading in the comments of Grand Theft Auto V reviews today, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t be ashamed that you’re a gamer, be ashamed the idiots are gamers. These people are not “gamers”, the same way trolls in movie forums aren’t “movie lovers.” They’re just idiots. Whether in this medium or another, they’re just idiots. By associating yourself and others with the same term you apply to the idiots, you do a great disservice to the vast majority who are intelligent and specifically stay out of comments sections so they don’t have to mingle with the garbage. How can so many people on one hand, vehemently defend the medium of video games against those who say that all players are potential mass murderers while at the same time say they hate “gamers” because of a small group of idiots who cower behind their keyboards and anonymity?

This has got to stop. We can’t be against those who paint our community with a broad brush based on a few bad apples and then do the same things ourselves. The practice is no less wrong when it’s done internally. If you must read the comments, you’re totally right to be pissed off when you see people spewing hate and vitriol over what’s supposed to be something we do for fun. But be pissed off at them and don’t lump the good people (who yes, are the overwhelming majority and which likely count you among them) in with the drivel. Just call them what they are. “Idiots are raging again”, “Idiots are ruining the discussion”. See how much more accurate and succinct that is? By referring to us all as “gamers”, your conceding what should be a term of pride to the worst elements of us and dammit, they don’t deserve it! Don’t let them have it. We’re better than they are.

Or you know, maybe web sites could actually just start moderating their comments. But let’s be realistic here.

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