A little background. This will be brief. It seems that Jimmy Kimmel, another of these boring, ripping-off-Jay-Leno-style late-night talk-show hosts has decided to go after people who watch Let’s Play videos on YouTube. The way he sees it, these people are pathetic, antisocial outcasts, and they do this because they have no life. Is that fair? Absolutely not. But I admit that this is something that I don’t get either. Why? Because I am not much for Let’s Play videos either. I game for stories, and why would I watch a game when I would rather play it? Granted, those who Let’s Play sometimes have opinions about games that get my attention. The reason that I bought Until Dawn is because of seeing all the people who I follow, along with some friends, tell me about how this game was one that was up my alley. Well, my friends said that, but the people I watch said that it was a good game. But I am not the type who watched PewDiePie videos and their ilk. The demographics of that are younger people.
We live in an interesting time. I have my issues with online culture. I admit to being old-school in a lot of ways. I read books on paper, I only just got a smart phone this spring. I keep up with the current consoles, but that’s because I don’t want to lag behind when the next great story that I can fall in love with could be just around the corner. But I still have a mentality from a time gone by. A time when it used to be that talking to someone was going to where they are, sitting and shooting the shit. You could play games together, hang together, do whatever. But it was in person, and that connection means something to me. But we live in a time where people can come online and meet up and talk to people and have “para-social relationships” on the Internet. I got my first taste of that just last week, when I was invited to be part of a live-stream with a friend of mine on Twitter. That was loads of fun, and I got to talk to interesting people and have fun conversation about GamerGate and other issues. It was a meeting of minds, so I get the appeal of this sort of stuff. But it’s still not a world I have much place in.
I bring this up because I want it to be a back-drop for some criticism that I am going to levy at a YouTuber whose videos I watch and enjoy. I am able to have a disagreement with someone without just writing them off as awful. There are some people who I genuinely have disdain for, but this is not one of them. His name is Rich, and he runs a channel called ReviewTechUSA. In a recent video, he talked about the deal with Jimmy Kimmel, and had some pointed things to say about the gaming community, that I have taken some umbrage with. However, in the interest of being fair, because I want to approach this as one fair-minded person talking to another, I will show you his video, so you can see his point of view. Then we’ll talk about it.
Rich, I’ve been a gamer almost all my life. My cousin Griffin got me into it, and my first console was a Sega Genesis. It was outdated even in the time I got it, but it was the first console I had. My second was the N64. For my whole life, this medium is one that I have been deeply tied into and have had a passion for. Something else that I have had to deal with my whole life – the way society views me and this hobby.
I get where you’re coming from in being frustrated. The gaming community has had some bad luck lately. But I think you’re not seeing history here. I grew up in a time where people in my schools knew that I was a gamer and enjoyed violent games and movies. This was in a time when teachers worried that you were a potential Columbine shooter if you liked these things. Kids who wore black were talked to by authority figures. I got a couple of questions thrown at me by a teacher. This has been something that has always been. My parents believed that video games made me lazy, even though I still liked to do stuff outside and have fun like a normal kid. But my cousin was a lot lazier than I, so we would game a lot too. My parents disapproved. My school disapproved. I saw pieces on the nightly news that my old man would watch about how there would be some event that would happen, and the names Marilyn Manson and Grand Theft Auto would come up.
And despite how I don’t agree with them, I kind of got where they’re coming from. Just yesterday, I was playing a game where I had to choose between two people about who lives or who dies in Until Dawn. No matter what I did, someone was going to die. Someone was going to get sawed in half by a giant buzzsaw. I chose to save Ashley, and you see my character at the time’s best friend, Josh, get ripped in half by said saw, with his intestines hanging out. If I wasn’t part of this community and understood that this is fantasy and that it doesn’t affect you on a person level, I can get why people would think that that sort of thing is scary. The idea that some kid is choosing to let someone die, and then see his hanging corpse and bug-eyed face. Of course parents would be scared to death of that. Of course they would. And since we live in a culture that can’t critically analyze shootings beyond having to blame something other than society at large for our human failings, we have to have something to blame. Video games are scary to people, and they are everywhere. It’s easy. However, this is something that I have dealt with all my life.
Nowadays, there is a new crop of people who look down on gamers for our hobby. As Christina Hoff Sommers put it, “hipsters with cultural degrees.” People who want to claim that every gamer who enjoys the company of women in a romantic or sexual way and enjoys video games is a misogynist. The media has run with that narrative too. No matter where you look on mainstream media, being a gamer is bad. Gamers are people to look down upon and shun. Which brings me to your statement.
You say that you want to break these stereotypes. You say that you want these to go away and that the onus is on us to make this happen. Rich, history is an excellent teacher. It’s one that goes woefully ignored, which is why we’re doomed to repeat it. You say that it’s because of a small group of people that the reputations continue. Does the media, who does everything they can to misrepresent gaming and gamers have no culpability for this position that society outside gaming has of gamers? When a mass shooting happens, and the media is looking for some easy way to generate click-bait without having to do a significant amount of research, is it on gamers that they put out articles about how video games are wrong? Where does the line get drawn? Oh, and then there’s this nonsense about how video games are sexist and make gamers sexist. A canard fed into by people who clearly have either a chip on their shoulder or coffers to fill. Is there no blame to be leveled at those people for the fact that they are working so hard to stir up dirt?
There are some loud village idiots in gaming, but disapproval of gamers is something that I have had to deal with all my life. We all have! We all learned to grow a thick skin and not care what people thought about us and our hobby. Let them believe that we’re man-children in a basement. Let them believe that we’re nothing but people who can’t grow up. That’s on them, not us! It isn’t our job to make these people understand anything! It is our job to enjoy our hobby, while doing what we can to be good people. Unless someone wants to be a bad person, which is totally on them.
I hope this didn’t come off as too stand-offish. The goal here was to convey that this really isn’t our responsibility to change anyone’s mind, because the sad truth is that we can’t really do that. All we can do is try as hard as we can to be good people. And if society at large chooses to look down on us without even taking a second look at this community, that’s on them. Christina Hoff Sommers had no connection to this community, yet when she chose to come and sit down and talk to its members, really learn about them, she realized that this is a vibrant culture filled with all kinds of people. That’s why she instantly became popular among gamers. She defended our hobby in earnest, from an academic and fair-minded perspective of someone who doesn’t have the slightest connection to any of this. Just imagine what would happen if other people chose to do the same. Like you said, at least Jimmy Kimmel did give gamers another shake. It might not change his mind, but at least he tried. So I’ll give him props for that.
Anyway, that’s my thoughts on this. Let me know yours down in the Comments.
Until next time, a quote,
“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.” -J.K. Rowling