Pointing and Laughing
Jim Sterling’s latest comic creation, the Duke Amiel du Harcore, currently presents a weekly video in which he narrates comments written by self-professed “hardcore gamers”. These monologues ironically highlight the pomposity and lack of self-awareness that is so common to individuals possessing such a mindset. Sterling delivers them with his usual theatrical flair, ensuring that source material is presented literally, complete with all their punctuation and spelling mistakes. “Commentocracy” may not be big or particularly clever but it makes its satirical point and is an amusing diversion, providing a welcome break from the po-faced, default stance of the gaming community these days. It also seems to be hitting home and ruffling a few feathers because there has already been some push back from those Sterling seeks to mock.
Contemporary gaming culture is in many ways a microcosm of everything that is currently wrong in western culture. It can be myopic, self-aggrandising, lacking in humility and rife with hyperbolic rhetoric. Critical thinking, introspection and comradery is hard to find. Too many gamers consider themselves the arbiter of its associated culture and there is still a percentage that mistakenly consider their personal efficiency at playing games to be some laudable achievement, commensurate with success at sports or in the arts. There is one particular blog that I read, whose author is so vain and delusional that they’ve constructed an internal narrative that paints them as a virtual Nietzschean Übermensch. Yet their prose show that they’re a somewhat emotionally damaged individual with an erroneous perspective of the world. Yet such is the nature of gaming these days. “Git Gud” culture and a bellicose, binary world view go hand in hand.
It can be argued that debating such a position is the best way to challenge it. I myself enjoy the cut and thrust of a good discussion based around contrasting views. However, we are not currently living in an age where people will concede an argument if given evidence to the contrary. A point of view has become more of an act of faith, a symbol to embrace and a flag to rally round. It’s not about what is demonstrably or ethically right or wrong. It’s about how you feel. A contrary opinion is perceived by default as an attack upon your own. Someone questioning your position is ultimately questioning you. Hence, we see all the zealotry that was once exclusive to religion, manifesting itself around aspects of popular culture. If politics has become tribal, why shouldn’t all the other facets of our life? We’ve spent the last ten years racing to the bottom and we’ve finally arrived, spittle flecked and ready for battle.
However, when confronted with such a bullish and implacable mindset, there is an alternative to debating. There is always humour. Why waste valuable time and energy responding intellectually to professed gaming elitism, when you can simply point and laugh at the utter fatuousness of such a position. Historically, any dogma founded upon self-professed superiority is usually devoid of any capacity for self-deprecation. Philosophies of this kind seek validation and despise ridicule. Humour robs them of the gravitas that they seek and undermines the bogus credibility they espouse. If there was ever a time to justifiably mock and deride these rogue elements of the gaming community, the time is now. Hopefully, the Duke Amiel du Harcore will continue to rib those delusional gamers that haunt subreddits and forums, extoling the virtues of the “PC master race”. He may even encourage more of us to finally climb of the fence and tackle this blight on our community, by doing the same.