To be human these days is a dangerous thing

Image by Flickr user jaymiek
Image by Flickr user jaymiek

I’m guessing that many of you have, by now, seen the news about the “Internet outrage” over Carolyn Petit’s  review of Grand Theft Auto V for Gamespot. Some readers went ballistic over her calling the game “misogynistic” and scoring it a 9 out of 10. Mean words and evil thoughts ripped through many of the comments on the article. Surprising? Sadly no.

I don’t envy game journalists and reviewers, those that get paid for their services, that is. I can’t imagine the stress of coming under fire for simply expressing one’s opinions about a game. For any number of reasons, so many people hop onto the Internet in attack mode, ready to fling nasty feelings and epithets and anything and anyone. And yes, we know, there are lots of angry gamers out there.

I get it, we are a passionate group! Many of us weathered the storm of questionable video games of the past decades. We survived the time when gaming was far from cool and bullies readily doled out verbal abuse concerning our chosen hobby. We love video games. We love the the acting of playing and are sometimes defined by those experiences. We love them so much that we’ll defend our favorites until we are hoarse. We love them to the point of exhaustion. Exhaustion with the games, exhaustion with the media, exhaustion with ourselves.

And some love them to the point of anger? I’m honestly not even sure how that mindset works. We all know that the Internet has grown exponentially since its birth, and it offers a myriad of ways to connect with people across the globe. If you want to be seen and heard, you can do that. If you want to express your opinion, you can do that to. And if you want to make fun of people and hurl death threats at anything with two legs, then have at. This is a free world, by golly! Right?

Well, this free world requires earplugs and thick skin, because criticism in some form or another lurks around every corner. If I want to offer up a moderately intelligent retort to a review with which I don’t agree, that’s one thing. If I feel compelled to comment that a reviewer is a “blankety-blank and a blankety-blank with a blankety-blank,” that’s another.  We’re taught to ignore the bullies, stand up for what we believe in, and that it all gets better someday. And it does. Really, it does. But until it does, we’re left with a loud albeit small group of video game players who will do nothing but spew hate from behind avatars and fake names simply because it can be done. It’s bad enough that I worry about that happening on my tiny, itty bitty blog, but I can’t imagine how strange it must be to be a paid game journalist working under such a close, angry lens. Frankly, I head to other itty, bitty blogs, those that fall under the radar of most trolls, when searching for gaming information. The waters in the blogosphere are much more calm and serene. It’s a place where conversations are welcome, no one’s calling for this or that blogger’s head on a stick, and most non-friendly sarcasm is kept at bay, because we sincerely want each other to succeed.

In the end, I admire those who seek out game journalism careers, for they are tougher than I. If someone I’ve been following makes the jump to professionalism, that person has my utmost respect. If someone wants to dive into the wacky and scary atmosphere of game reporting and reviewing, that’s perfectly awesome, and to them I say good luck and godspeed. We want and need information about our games, and it’s not like all that news is produced out of thin air. There are people, plenty good, a few less so, behind those opinions. Not randomly-generated code, not 5000 robots at 5000 typewriters…human beings. Unfortunately, it’s easy for some to forget that.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Hatm0nster says:

    The stupid thing about this whole situation is that the angry people are the minority in the gaming community, and yet they’re our face in the eyes of the world. It doesn’t make sense to get angry about a review if you’re just a fan. You didn’t make it, you weren’t involved with it. So why are you so upset that someone else, whom you don’t even know, doesn’t like it as much?

    The only reasoning I can think of is that perhaps some of these people look to the reviews to justify their opinions. So if a review comes out negative, then those people could conceivably take it personally as an insult to their taste in games. So, while they may have any understandable reason, their actions are still silly and childish.

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    1. cary says:

      It rightly stinks that the media likes to make examples out of or showcase the bad apples (and not just in terms of gaming). But the loud, angry ones always make the headlines. As long as the community know what’s best, that’s all that really matters; but we know it’s hard to be the voice of reason when the world seems to want anything but. Professional sites aside, it’s not like blogs are free from ranting — we welcome really great and insightful rants. It’s when things become personal that problems erupt. If someone wants to call out this or that reviewer just because they don’t agree with what they say, then fine, but personal attacks are really uncalled for.

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  2. duckofindeed says:

    Like Hatm0nster said, I don’t understand people getting so angry over something they weren’t actually involved in. I once gave a bad review of this book I read because, well, in my honest opinion, it was a bad book. And I got attacked for it. It was insane. A whole group of people ganged up on me, and when I asked them why they were taking a review of someone else’s work so personally, they marked my comment as unhelpful so no one would be able to see my attempts to defend myself. (They were a rather hive-minded group of individuals.)

    Don’t take things so personally, people. I am not insulting you. I am not even necessarily insulting those who made it (not everything someone does is good, and reviews are pointless if we just say everything is fantastic because we’re afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, fans or creator or whatever). Everyone has a right to their opinion, but it is completely out of line to be nasty to someone over it. Keep it to yourself, angry people.

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    1. cary says:

      What an ordeal! I’m sure you’re book review was perfectly fine. The Internet has really altered the art of debate. And I guess comment sections aren’t really set up for debate, but they could be if people would be a little more rational. It’s so easy to just type out a few mean words that mean nothing, harder to actually put forth a real thought. Guess that’s why we have to take a lot of comments (none here of course) with a grain of salt. 🙂

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  3. Vitosal says:

    internet sucks. Angry video gamers, ooi. They are the most annoying sub-species i have ever had the misfortune of crossing. If i don’t like a review, i try to explain in a civil manner why. Not to judge, just to share opinions…why is that so bad?

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  4. Vitosal says:

    i meant to say internet trolls sucks, lol

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    1. cary says:

      You hit the nail on the head! We’re all here to offer up our own opinions. If you don’t agree with me, either move on or give me your opinion and let’s talk. I’m more than happy to have a good conversation…the trolls just get ignored.

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  5. Walters says:

    1) The problem I have noticed is that if you have a consistent history of applying your personal bias into your reviews instead of looking at it “objectively”, there’s a higher chance there will be some 13 year old who can’t read and knows how to curse instead of knowing how to actually learn how to write a sentence.

    There are also probably 30 year olds who also comment as well, but we’ll call them sad people.

    2) An even higher chance of flaming will occur when you rate something.

    3) Now, there are reviews out there that get it wrong and aren’t really a review, and can get called out from that. But when those reviews happen, you can surely bet instead of being all civil at the very least, [curse word][curse word], you [curse word]. If all two of my outlines to get flamed take place and then the third happens, just get the**** off the internet.

    4) But honestly, it comes down to your title. To be human is a dangerous thing, since any little thing will get people riled up and angry or something. It doesn’t apply to just games. It applies to everything we end up feeling passionate about. For me though, game vitriol pales in comparison to political vitriol. That I have witnessed firsthand once friends not be friends anymore/and lots of FB vitriol that I’d rather not see is a testament to why I believe this. With the state of the internet as it is now, nothing is really safe from criticism, and it doesn’t seem like it’ll get any better.

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    1. cary says:

      Well said. We live in a society where e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is reviewed, from coffee makers to movies, and for whatever reason, the video game sector is among the most hostile. (Or it sure seems that way.) Thing is, everybody’s got a right to voice their own opinions – that’s one of the things that makes the Internet great. On the flipside, voicing those opinions, angry ones in particular, could cause harm to the very thing you support. These are confusing times.

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