Most of my blogs try to accentuate the positive, because there’s more than enough negativity fluttering around like butterflies made of fart out there. That said, this sorta thing can be daunting as hell. Whoever said that it takes more muscles to make a frown than to make a smile probably never worked in customer service. Or never tried to adore a thing despite all the negativity. Or was on some next-level medication that let you taste auras. So, with that said, I’m gonna lay out why being a positive fan of gaming is probably the most exhausting thing since watching a reality show.
I suppose I should maybe elaborate on what I’m going on about and what prompted this whole blog post this week. One of my favorite games, WildStar, has been beset by a whole slew of bad news, from layoffs to exit interviews blasting management to outright cancelling Christmas. It’s been a trying time enjoying Nexus. Even more trying when the majority of the circles one inhabits are giddily digging the title’s grave.
This is just a log on a whole bonfire of crap that I’ve been exposed to. Excellent blog-fu’ist J3w3l made a great post a couple days ago about PvP and bad behaviour. It prompted a series of generally civil but nonetheless heated opinions in the comments area, which then prompted a rather stern and stupendously snarly response in defense of PvP playstyle and its inner culture…which I can’t say isn’t uncalled for. It might not have been an appropriate response, but I’ve been precisely there myself before.
Granted, this is all stuff that is easily, completely under my control to limit. The problem is twofold. One, the very point of MMOs, even if I find PUG’ing terrifying and horrible, is the sense of community. Community that plays amongst as well as with each other. Community that forms little groups and guilds and cliques and events. Comment sections are that too–a microcosm of hobbyists. So it’s hard not to want to engage and maybe make some connections there.
Two…I’m probably a complete idiot.
So when some people appear to conspire and rail against your chosen form of game or your chosen playstyle or even you fucking gaming platform of choice…it’s difficult to not be affected by that a little bit. Even the most aloof and shoulder-shruggingly chill among us has a nerve that can be tapped. Repeated exposure to the bullshit of others will get through. We’re all porous in that regard.
It all seems to stem from this continual tribe-creating mentality that has been in gaming ever since the NES and Master System were things that people could buy. What started as a matter of two companies vying for marketshare exploded into this camp-building clusterfuck where the value of people’s very lives depended on their choice of Plastic TV Gamer Box. The Console Wars were birthed, and they have since spawned to further perpetuate more tribe creation.
So too is it with MMO games.
I can’t tell you how often I have very nearly felt like a sort of scumbag because I enjoy WildStar. It’s absolutely insane, I know, believe me….but it’s happened. On more than one occasion. You start to think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with your synapses and that perhaps maybe the people who are tearing apart your favorite title are seeing something that you don’t.
Batshit, I know. But replace “WildStar” with any other game you’ve loved, or gaming platform, or even playstyle…see if that doesn’t make your teeth grit just that little bit at the memory.
So when things start to get to that point where the completely subjective opinion of others affects my enjoyment, that’s when I tend to sever contact. Not to run away from some horrible truth, but to just turn off the hissing staticy radio.
And that’s sorta what this is all about. Signal to noise.
I’ve grown up watching this whole internet thing proliferate into the weird, wobbly-ass monster it is today, and overall I am stunned and amazed at where it’s headed. I’ve also been exposed to enough people, digitally and literally, to know when someone is trying to yank my chain. It’s significantly worse digitally, what with the cloak of invisibility we all hide behind…but through the horribly typed nonsense and unnecessary snark, the same tactics and same hissing static is there.
So that’s when you rise above the wriggling worms and head to the sunshine of your enjoyment. That’s when you just…shut off that avenue that people speed along to run your ass over. At least for a little while. Get back in to that thing you love, really listen to the music and sound effects and clicking of your keystrokes or button presses and just…fuckin’ enjoy, man.
Being a fan of a thing is hard as hell, and we have more ways than ever to connect to one another and call each other a shitweasel. The point isn’t to shut out dissenting opinion or to even select only those who fit your personal narrative. It’s to find the ones who can understand the solidarity of being a gamer or a fan of a thing. We’re all just looking to have some fun. It’s not that unheard of that different people can agree to that, right?
Enjoying stuff isn’t tearing down someone else’s stuff or snatching away that person’s toys. It’s being with others to heighten communal enjoyment, and maybe even discuss amongst ourselves the stuff we do and play and come to at least an understanding…or bare minimum an agreement to disagree. I’m not gonna adore PvP, but…yanno what? Reading that blog post made me realize that even my PvE-lovin’ ass can understand that loving a thing is hard.
That’s how you cross lines and clink beer steins, my friends.