The gaming community has taken a toxic and violent turn in recent months, and Karl’s wondering how the rational, compassionate, but ultimately silent majority should react.
I don’t think anyone on the NWR staff has been talking about the continuing harassment or disenfranchisement of women or the transgender or any other subgroup in the gaming sphere that isn’t white, straight and male. And I don’t think it’s because they don’t care - I think it’s the opposite, rather. See, Nintendo World Report, and Planet GameCube before it, was founded on the basis of highlighting the best in the world of Nintendo and the industry at large. It was always meant to be a beacon of fun and joyful discussion. Even when we have heated arguments, it’s boxed around the the ideal of civility, patience and kindness. The video game industry needs more places like NWR, especially lately, because the last year, and especially the last few months, have been pretty awful.
Before I move further, I’ll say that if you’re not interested in this topic, and if you just want to go back to talking about how rad the new Mario Kart tracks will be (SO RAD), then you should most definitely keep reading. Because it’s you that I want to talk to. You’re the silent majority - the guys and gals who play video games because you like them and don’t care one lick about the latest inside-baseball political Twitter-fight that just lit up this past week. You’re all wonderful and I know there are so, so many of you.
So why does it feel like the gaming community is so damn poisonous lately? Why are people like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn and, most recently, Jenn Frank, concerned about their physical safety after talking about their experiences? You already know the answer - it’s because a vocal minority of misogynists and bigots of all stripes and variations have decided it’s their personal mission in life to drown out the voices of the in-any-way different. That the idea that ladies in video games deserve a fair shake is a tacit condemnation of the current gamer and that the only way to prevent their precious status quo from changing is to tell a “social justice warrior” that you’re going to kill their parents and posting said parents’ address on Twitter.
You already know this is terrible, and inexcusable, and even if these people had a valid point to argue, they gave up any semblance of credibility when they resorted to the most horrendous and violent of tactics. And so you read article after article decrying the gaming community, calling the community a mass of hatred and abuse, and you’re wondering what the hell you did to earn such scorn, anyway.
But see, those articles aren’t talking about you. This whole ongoing debate about how we ought to handle gamers doesn’t have a single thing to do with you. Because you’re the silent majority. You just want to talk about who you’re going to main as in Smash Bros. next month (Toon Link!). And so while all of this back-and-forth is going on, you’ve decided to play the background and simply ignore it. That’s your right, and you’ve decided to rise above it all.
My question is: should you?
That’s not a rhetorical question - I’m honestly asking you. Because I’m constantly asking myself lately what I should do. I think I skew more towards confronting things head on, so when I read about Jenn Frank being forced out of her profession, it makes me unbelievably angry, and it spurs me to speak out against people I see as perpetrators of hatred and bullying. Others have told me that it’s a better tactic to show the gaming industry a better way through my actions, and to be an ambassador of compassion and kindness. I see their point, and I think they have a valid opinion, but it seems too passive for me. If I didn’t speak up and decry the actions of these vicious and callous few, I’d feel sick. It would feel like I’m endorsing them with my silence. That’s just how I feel.
Ultimately, though, I just want gaming to be a safer and more inclusive hobby. I’d like for people to feel safe about sharing their views and opinions without being harassed. I’d like for the big scandal spinning around the blogosphere to be Nintendo’s crazy new business plan again. I’d like to stop seeing people I respect get beaten down into the dirt by lunatics. So I’m asking you - what should we do here, as the gaming majority? How do we foster a better community, and how should we respond to all of this horrible business?
This isn’t a rhetorical question. I’m asking. What do you think?