Gamers and Self-deprecation
Wisdom does not automatically accompany age. I know people who are just as dumb as they were twenty five years ago. Age does however offer a new perspective and an opportunity to reflect upon change. It’s down to the individual whether they choose to do this or not. I happily admit that I have shed a great deal of my nobler ideals over the years. I'm no longer passionate about many of the things I was in youth. I also tend not to get angry or irritated by things any more. Getting mad is not good for your health and seldom solves anything. Also why hand someone the ability to push your buttons on a plate. For me age has brought equilibrium and a degree of contentment because I don’t give a shit about lots of things any more.
Now that I have set out my proverbial stall, let us move on to main point of this post. Some gamers are their own worst enemy and once again because of the behaviour of a few, the perception and credibility of the whole is harmed. I refer of course to the recent incident involving US talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel. He made a few flip remarks regarding gaming and live streaming on his show and subsequently received a tide of abuse, outrage and death threats which seems to be the default response these days. It was all very predictable and thoroughly demoralising.
Kimmel’s comment themselves were far from original and not especially vitriolic. He merely referenced how incredible it was to him that people would wish to watch other people play games. Such comments are not surprising. Comedians traditionally favour soft and obvious targets. The more you protest the more they’ll continue to mock. In this instance I can even appreciate his perspective. Kimmel and I are both the same age and I still find the idea of watching someone else play games somewhat incongruous, although I also see its benefits. From my perspective, I simply didn't find his remarks problematic.
Sadly some gamers did and responded in an all too familiar manner. Which beggars the question why do they do this? I would suggest it’s because these gamers completely lack any sense of self-deprecation. They take themselves far too seriously and their behaviour demonstrates that they are emotionally illiterate. Since when has it become the social norm to go nuclear as your opening gambit to any form mockery or criticism? I also worry that some gamers perceive themselves as an oppressed minority with commensurate needs. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Gaming is very much the preserve of the middle-class professional or their offspring; hardly a marginalised group.
Some gamers still cling to the myth that they are some sort of über problem solvers or have a unique set of skills. This again is nonsense, perpetuated by some spurious scientific research taken out of context. Gamers therefore deserve no special treatment and should be subject to the same amount of deference or lack of it, as any other social group. Frankly the social dysfunction that is so often demonstrated by those that shout the loudest, simply invites further opprobrium.
Is this lack of perspective solely the province of gamers or evidence of a wider cultural problem? Are we as a society losing our sense of tolerance and emotional maturity? Are we too quick to go off alarmingly when criticised and turn our response up to eleven? Well politics and social commentary has certainly got more confrontational of late, especially on social media. It can be argued that the internet has removed some people’s inhibitions and freed them from social etiquette and responsibility. Sports fans also don’t take mockery well. Yet I can’t think of any other group that seem to have such a short fuse as gamers. Perhaps it stems from intense fandom associated with gaming culture.
Humour such as that demonstrated by Jimmy Kimmel is par for the course and not something that is likely to be going away any time soon. The correct response when confronted by such loaded comments is to shrug it off and let it lie. Ask any politician, scientist or religious leader and they’ll tell you the same. So will your Mum. Until this particular subset of gamers learn this invaluable lesson and cultivate a sense of perspective and dignity, they will continue to find themselves squarely in the sights of comedians and others. Sadly their predictable reaction to being baited simply encourages their more socially adept colleagues to further disassociate themselves with the gaming community.