Remember when being angry about games usually meant throwing your controller because that one boss fight was just so cheap? Now, we’re angry at each other. Ever year, a few more games and people in gaming wind up on the list of those-who-must-not-be-named, the ones whose names will spark a vicious fight in the comments or a meltdown on social media. It doesn’t matter if every point has been thoroughly discussed, analyzed, disseminated or debunked — no conversation can escape the ongoing fallout. It’s exhausting.
Over at Eurogamer, Rob Fearon argues that it’s past time to put an end to all this anger — that we, as an industry, need to find a way to deal with controversy that doesn’t turn up the volume on the screaming and accusations.
The advice we reach for is too often to try and teach the magic words that might make everything stop. Don’t speak this way, don’t put that trailer out, don’t look into their eyes. As if we can collectively teach people to market their way out of what’s happening. Were that really a thing, we’d have managed it by now. None of this is a marketing problem, no matter how much we kid ourselves. None of this can be fixed by just making better games either.
If we learn nothing else from everything that’s happened in and around games in 2016, please let it be that we need to find ways to make this place less awful for everyone – and fast.
Ignoring these people doing terrible things and hoping they go away hasn’t worked. Just relying on the fact they’re a relative handful of folks hasn’t worked either.
These past few years, I’ve had so many conversations with folk in games who are finding themselves asking this one simple question.
“I wonder when it’s my turn?”
We may not have numbers, but anecdotally, we know that all this anger isn’t good for anyone. It hurts the people directly affected, it drives bystanders out of the industry for fear that they’ll be targeted, and it makes gaming a less attractive hobby to people who could very well make it better for their presence. It even hurts the people who are the angriest, taking a serious toll on both physical and mental health.
There are no easy answers, though Fearon shares a few ideas in the full article. But if we approach the people playing and making video games with more empathy, if we learn to handle our own anger productively, and we offer support where we can, we’ll be off to a good start.