Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Can The "Hate" Issue in The Gaming Community Be Controlled?

The topic of toxic and hateful attitudes on the gaming community has been hot for a couple of days now, even spawning a letter made by several game development companies asking the public to stop the hate train. The real mind exercise regarding this problem we are facing is asking ourselves how do we control it. I've read a lot of different opinions on several websites in the past days that go from been optimistic to been a gloomy defeatist and it all shows that this problem is not as simple as it seems. This is not a good guys vs bad guys scenario, but a theater of opinions that has gone out of hand and the only chance we have to alleviate this situation is to analyze it and act accordingly. There are a few of those comments I read that still roam my mind so I'm gonna be paraphrasing some of those to explain my point of view on this issue.

Caution Angry Gamer

Comment #1:
Censoring hateful attitudes looks like part of the solution, but it is violating our freedom of speech.

I read this one a lot and all I have to say about it is that freedom is speech is not absolute. This right ends when your "speech" only purpose is to damage the other person and doesn't have any facts to support it. Personally, I do not believe in political correctness and I think that people should say what needs to be said without euphemisms or sugar coating, but on the other hand I consider that criticism must be supported by facts and not by the sick desire of pissing people off or worse. So content makers (especially video game journalists) need to able to recognize these undesirable expressions and get them out of the equation without making the mistake of censoring valid opinions just because the person does not agree with what they are saying.

Kirby Sleeping

Comment #2:
A campaign against bad attitudes on the net is a pipe dream that will never work.

If the campaign is done in a passive way, this comment is true. So in order for it to work we need to be pro-active about it. We need to rally the troops and weed out unproductive trolls and haters from our community in a smart way. The main problem that often happens is that people cannot hold their impulses and start battles with these picturesque users who just doesn't care about your arguments. If you care about the gaming community as a whole, just report these kind of people and move on. Games are supposed to be about fun and not about flame wars on gaming media websites as there is a very thin line between fun arguments and plain stupid discussions. After all, by arguing you are giving these undesirables the attention they crave and that defeats the purpose.

Don't feed them and they will starve.
Comment #3:
Ignoring the trolls won't work because they will just keep getting worse and worse.

The first thing that must be said about this is that trolls and haters don't make arguments about anything, they make sarcastic remarks (be them directly or not) and use them to piss people off or throw you off your argument through insults.This means that it is useless to go to war with them and once again the best course of action is to observe and then report them if keep it up for too long. Nothing will piss off a troll or hater more than denying them their "fun" while kicking them out of the place. Do this enough times and he/she will get tired of trying or at least go somewhere else. At first they will get frantic and will throw everything they have in a last attempt to get people to respond, but you just have to hold your ground.

Greedy Guy
Greed is there, but we must know how to attack it.
Comment #4:
If the companies stop been greedy maybe the hating will stop.

This one definitely has to be a joint effort. We can't deny the fact that companies often do some nasty stuff that piss off the entire gaming community. Sometimes it does feel as if they can't stand direct criticism because they are always wearing their business hat and that is also a problem. On the other hand, the community itself needs to understand that nothing ever gives anybody the right to threaten or harass anybody just because you dislike their product or decisions and even if they messed up some aspect of their personal life we should not be reacting about it as if we were an angry mob of inquisitors in the dark ages. If the person or company has indeed done something that harms the gaming industry or our overall gaming experience in any way, we should heavily criticize them and make our voices known, but not by the way of harassment and threats because that kind of attitude doesn't solve anything and makes us all look like immature kids, giving gamers a bad name. So if anybody does go ahead and resort to that kind of fear techniques, people should just report them and let the authorities deal with them, sort of like what happened to this guy and that case wasn't even about a developer or company.

Dumb Anti Drug PSA
How many people this guy have kept off drugs?  That's a good question.
Comment #5:
This "stop the hate" campaign by itself is an empty thing. 

This one is the only one I can completely agree with. This campaign is empty if we just use the general term "hate" instead of focusing on each of the undesirable actions that we want to eradicate. Notice how on the description for this article I typed the word hate in quotes, that was because we don't need an ambiguous term, but the specific things that cause the problem. The other 4 previous comments deal with some details, but this one sums it all up into one.

On the gamer's side we need to identify the "boss" we want to fight before starting the fight and that can be done by enumerating the different things that need to stop and the things we need to do to. Let's also empathize that we need to give more attention to the games themselves as the awesome entertainment they represent and stop the nitpicking or "meh this game sucks because I say so" attitude.

On the companies side they need to look for ways to be tactful with the gaming community and accept the criticism if it has a solid foundation based on facts. They need to stop acting like this emotionless robot that tries to print money and start acting a little more like what they really are, artists. I am not implying that they should just make whatever the public says regardless of what it is (that would be chaotic), but they should at least keep an open mind and get out of their corporate cocoon and into the gamer mindset from time to time.

Wrapping it up

We can conclude that the "hate" issue CAN be controlled, but the chances of doing that will rely on changing many things that we are currently doing wrong. This applies to both the community and the gaming companies as both try to find a happy medium where the backlash and negative outcomes are minimal. I admit that this really sounds like some sort of utopia, but it isn't. In fact it is quite possible to accomplish because the problems we are having now are very recent, meaning that there was a time when we were doing things the right way, so we just have to search for that sweet spot again.

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