The rather unfortunate view that’s been ascribed to the gaming community of late is that we’re filled with people who love nothing more than to make other people’s lives hell. As I and many others will attest to this is most certainly not the case in the wider community however like other groups with extremist members it’s all too easy to tar us all with the same brush. Still like those other groups simply putting distance between us and them doesn’t seem to be enough and we’re routinely called upon to fix the issue. The problem, as I see it, is that we really have no mechanisms at our disposal to deal with such toxic members of our community, especially in a world where there are no barriers to communication.
The Internet has always been a conduit for voices that would otherwise not have been heard, for better or for worse. Any mildly public figure has likely received an undue amount of unwanted attention, from the mildly inconvenient to the down right hateful. It used to be considered par for the course with stardom on the Internet as it was guaranteed whatever you were doing would piss someone off on the other side of the globe, triggering a tirade which no other communication medium in the past would support. However recent events are escalating beyond the point of simple words which boggles my mind as to who would think such behaviour would be acceptable. It’s far beyond the point of harmless fun, this is the stuff people should be going to jail for.
We, as the quiet majority of the gaming community, are honestly powerless to stop people from committing acts like this. Within the games we play there are often mechanisms we use to deal with toxic members of the community but in the wider world (which lacks such controls) as a group have no real method to contain, control or punish these kind of people. We can distance ourselves, shame those who misrepresent us and possibly even get companies on our side but if someone wants to do something deplorable, like they have been doing as of late, we’re unable to act until it’s far too late.
TotalBiscuit posed the idea that we, as the moderate majority, should “freeze out” these individuals so that the greater conversation can be maintained without the hate that’s come along with it. Whilst I agree with the idea in principle I fail to see what mechanism we have at our disposal to enact such a course of action. It’s not like I have an answer to this, indeed I’m keen to hear everyone’s ideas on just what we can do in this situation, but if the idea was so simple to execute then we would’ve done it long before anyone had the opportunity to taint the gamer moniker with their extremist bullshit. The titles, hashtags and whatever else has came out of these recent events might not be irrevocably tainted but the solution for cleansing them is still a problem that has yet to reveal itself to us.
I guess what I’m getting at is if we want to have this conversation whilst dealing with the shit that seems to have hung itself onto the cause we, as a community, have to figure out what we need to do to deal with it. Sure, there are dozens of soundbite ideas out there that sound great in principle, but until someone shows me an execution that is even the least bit effective I’m still at loss as to what we can do. I think there are some great conversations here, including those on feminism, journalistic ethics and games as an inclusive medium, however they’re all clouded by hate and generalisations, their arguments lost in a sea of vitriol and bullshit. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to our particular patch either so once we start to find some ideas that work then, hopefully, debates on the Internet can be had without anyone getting a SWAT team showing up at their door.
Whilst it’s always fun to quote the Insane Clown Posse’s single Miracles the answer to the question they posit, how do magnets work, is something that I myself had not completely understood. Most engineering students will know the relationship that electric currents and magnetism share but ask any of them to explain how natural magnets work and you’d likely get the same blank stare and jumbled answer I would have given before I had watched the video below:
What really fascinated me about natural magnets is the fact that its one of the few natural phenomena that can only be explained on a quantum level. This is likely the reason why the mechanism isn’t common knowledge as some of this stuff was above even my university level experience (although I was hardly a physics or hard science major). This new found understanding hasn’t exactly changed how I view the world but its certainly going to be a great little conversation topic come my next meeting with my more nerdy brethren.
There’s a lot of things in this world that I think I have a sound understanding of that, usually after a Wikipedia binge or YouTube bender, just aren’t inline with reality. These usually aren’t fundamental things (although my recent dive into corporal discipline of children was something of an eye opener) but more and more I find myself astonished at just how wrong my intuition can be. The most recent example is the simple petrol pump and the mechanism that stops the flow when your tank is almost full.
So in my engineer brain I figured that there was some kind of sensor embedded in the end of the nozzle and, upon fuel reaching the outside of the nozzle the pump would be alerted, stopping the flow. Of course I often wondered how they managed to detect fuel on the outside of the nozzle whilst ignoring the inside but I figured that there were people much smarter than me working on that problem and it was a simple matter of engineering. Of course I was right about the latter but I never expected a fully mechanical solution to it, especially one not as elegant as they show in the video.
It really is true what they say about what happens when you assume something 😉