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The World of Gaming is Toxic

The World of Gaming is Toxic

Videogames make for a fantastic pastime; you can sit down after a long day of work, grab a drink, and enjoy some time away from the stresses of the real world. But, though you may have this wonderful temporary escape, the community that benefits from videogames is often not a place of enjoyment or fantasy at all. In fact, the real world leaks into our favourite pastime far more than we like to admit.

While there are many avenues to this point, let us first start with “The Console Wars” (cue thunder and lightning). From the outside looking in, this whole concept is pretty childish. Unlike a favourite sports team that at least offers some kind of visual spectacle to rile up its fans, the battle between Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox takes place mostly in board rooms with meeting calls to stockholders (the people the companies actually care about), and regulatory committees deciding the fate of big money mergers. Yet, the fervour of taking sides and name-calling is, for some reason, just as powerful. It seems rather silly to me to be rooting for one billion-dollar company over another; honestly, the level of delusion and self-righteousness that both sides trick themselves into can get a bit astonishing. Gamers stand ready to trash amazing games and developers, no matter what the context, simply because they are more closely affiliated with the opposing side of this corporate conflict.

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Heaven forbid that any of the many developers and publishers out there try to be innovative or change things up with an established franchise, either. Society has a tendency to move forward, becoming more accepting and progressive with each generation, so long-lasting franchises often will adapt to societal changes as time goes on. Unfortunately, doing this will invoke fiery reactions from the “gatekeepers”, an unholy order of knights charged with protecting franchises from doing anything that violates their personal opinions. Want to have a female character as your game's lead? Not so fast, sonny boy, the gatekeepers will have something to say about that.

Let's take a look at the recently announced STAR WARS Outlaws; the galaxy far, far away is a beloved thing to many people. However, with this game’s reveal that the main character is a woman, fans freaked out. Comments about how you should be able to change your gender flooded the internet, and threats of boycotts began. Interestingly, I don’t recall such outbursts when STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order came to the market back in 2019, in which you play as a white man (Cal Kestis) with no other options available. Female gamers have gone decades with limited representation in AAA games, even more so if we are talking about those other than Caucasians. Yet the minute these things are attempted by a developer, all hell seems to break loose. Let's be clear, just because you like a franchise, perhaps even grew up with it, does not mean it is yours and that the franchise somehow owes you anything.

This brings us to Twitter and YouTube, the arenas for opinions without any ground rules. While Twitter is certainly worse due to the anonymity and the boldness that comes along with that, YouTube personalities have just as big a role in the spread of negativity. In fact, depending on who we are talking about, some of them have megaphones the size of actual news sites. Making their opinions seem like fact or gospel to their followers. However, oftentimes these content creators make entire videos over the smallest bits of information, expanding tiny glimpses into a game's development into EARTH-SHATTERING clickbait! Despite this, their early opinions often set the trend for how a product is perceived years before a game is actually released. Understand, this is how they make their money, they are intentionally being controversial to get clicks. It is bizarre that so many people listen to them, given they exist in a vicious cycle of both following and setting the trends, but that is MY opinion.

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Lionhead Studios co-founder Peter Molyneux

Finally, we have false promises and misinformation straight from the publishers and developers: for this, we need not look further than Peter Molyneux and Michał Platkow-Gilewski. You see, back in the yesteryear of 2004, a strange and magical RPG by the name of Fable was released. And though it was a good game, it was not everything that it was supposed to be. Lionhead Studios co-founder Peter Molyneux had made extravagant claims, such as acorns growing into full-size trees as the game spans your character’s life cycle. The lines between a man's wishful thinking and stating what Lionhead's game could actually do got extremely blurred, and it would not be the last time. But, while I can get over things like this (even though he was kind of lying), blatantly trying to gaslight the community is another matter.

Everyone remembers the catastrophe of Cyberpunk 2077 back in December of 2020. Upon release, the game set a new standard for just how broken something could be on launch day. It took CD Projekt Red almost three years to get their game up to scratch, and yet, Vice President of PR communications for CDPR Michał Platkow-Gilewski recently dismissed all of that in an interview with GamesIndustry’s Christopher Dring, here is what he said.

"I actually believe Cyberpunk on launch was way better than it was received, and even the first reviews were positive," — "Then it became a cool thing not to like it. We went from hero to zero really fast. That was the tough moment. We didn't know what was happening. We knew that the game is great, yes we can improve it, yes we need to take time to do it, and we need to rebuild some stuff.”

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The truth is that most news outlets were only given access to the PC version pre-launch for the purpose of reviews, and no footage on the last-gen consoles (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) was ever shown leading up to launch day. The result was several people engaging CD Projekt Red in class action lawsuits, arguing the company intentionally censored and misrepresented the state of the game to consumers. The situation was so bad that a fight between the game’s developers and leadership at CDPR spilt into the public, revealing complaints about crunch hours and unreasonable deadlines. Sony even went as far as to pull the title from its digital store, and if that doesn't show things were bad, nothing will.

So let's do a tally: companies fighting against companies, gamers fighting against gamers, a refusal to get with the times, clickbait, and misinformation everywhere. Things are certainly looking toxic to me, but that is only one part of the community.

See, you may have read this article and been asking yourself, “Who does this guy think he is, sitting on some high throne judging us all?” The reality is, I did not write this as a sermon but rather as an apology. Because like many out there, I, too, have engaged in some of the things that make gaming toxic, and for that, I am sorry. We cannot control what others do, but we can control ourselves. A colleague of mine often uses the phrase, “Don't be sorry, be better”, and that is exactly what I’m going to do.

Next time someone out there tries to ruin your game night, just remember that positivity starts with you. Sit back, relax, and let the things you can’t control go. Don’t be a part of the problem; after all, gaming is worth it.

Jase Taylor

Jase Taylor

Staff Writer

Explaining things thoroughly and also too much

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COMMENTS

sekin18842
sekin18842 - 10:35pm, 7th July 2023

Intresting article, thanks

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JaseTay
JaseTay - 10:39pm, 7th July 2023 Author

I am glad you enjoyed it :)

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Gorzagorz
Gorzagorz - 01:19pm, 9th July 2023

Good stuff

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