I didn’t really post about it on my blog, but if you follow my blog then you are likely already aware that I recently participated in the Extra Life charity marathon. I played games for twenty-four hours, streaming to my Twitch channel, trying to raise money for my local children’s hospital.
I love participating in Extra Life. I did it last year, and throughout this year I joined the local Philadelphia guild to go out to events and try to recruit more members. At the time of this writing it has been reported that 896 players were recruited for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and raised a total of $95,650 (with an additional $3,600 from Microsoft in Christiana, Delaware, making the actual total $99,250). We long since exceeded the totals for last year.
I am proud of my participation this year. It wasn’t just sitting at my desk playing games for twenty-four hours, a task that is a lot more difficult than it first seems, but I was able to meet people, speak to them about the event, and garner interest so that more players could be involved and reaching out to friends, family, and communities. I was a part of that not just financially, but socially. Same goes for garnering interest in the GamersWithJobs community.
This past weekend (October 24th through to October 26th) should have been about Extra Life for the games industry. Media pundits and gamers should have been encouraging participants and bringing to light all the good that a variety of gamers are trying to do. It should have been an uplifting weekend of positivity.
Yet every time I checked my Twitter, someone was mentioning GamerGate. It was either condemning the movement, making a joke about the movement, or in support of the movement. The only people I could really see discussing Extra Life were the few on my feed that were actively participating.
This past year I’ve had a few friends ask me why I even bother with Twitter. “I hear nothing good about it,” they would tell me. I’d try and argue that it’s a bit of an interactive RSS feed, that I’m able to find new content that way. Sure, you have to go through waves and waves of useless posts and arguments, but every so often you find a link worth clicking.
Between every game I played I checked Twitter, and I was struck by a new onslaught of the brand new “It’s About Ethics” meme, a snarky mockery of a common argument of proponents of GamerGate. In other words, taking someone’s thoughts and feelings and turning it into a joke.
A move which will only encourage more childish arguing and an increasing series of vendettas. But hey! Let’s all clap each other on the back and make ourselves laugh.
Which is the only purpose Twitter really serves, honestly. It’s a haven for trolls of all kinds (and let’s be honest, the “It’s About Ethics” meme is all about trolling). No one is actually encouraging intellectual discourse. People want to shout an opinion and get favorites and retweets. You only get support if you’re a part of Club X or Club Y. If you don’t fit neatly into a square or triangle peg, you get discarded.
This weekend was about GamerGate, and it encouraged nothing but arguments and flame wars. Those who were trying to use video games as a vehicle to help children experiencing diseases, disabilities, and traumatic wounds, to help families that need affordable medical care for their children, were over-shadowed by everyone’s addiction to fighting.
I will not be using Twitter any longer, except to maybe post links to my creations. I do not want to interact with anyone via Twitter, I don’t want to see your opinion in 140 characters or less, and I don’t want to see you’re snarky joke belittling another human being’s honest thoughts and opinions.
Hopefully this will encourage me to write more. The toxicity of Twitter has only made me wonder “what’s the point” more often than not in regards to games writing. Just like Total Biscuit, I, would like to see games writing improve. I, too, believe there are issues of ethics worth discussing. Yet when you are constantly a witness to the snark and vitriol on Twitter you lose hope. Why do I want to try writing about video games when all there is out there is hate? Does anyone really care about the more in-depth discussions to be had?
It doesn’t matter if anyone cares, though, because I care. I love video games, I love how their systems work, and I love analyzing their mechanics and narratives for deeper meaning. I also love writing, and when I’m feeling completely passionate I can mash words together with exceptional abandon.
It’s time I get back to it, only now I want to start critiquing other games writing as well. I don’t mean on a socio-political scale, either. I’m not going to tell everyone how wrong Polygon is for criticizing Bayonetta 2’s sexuality. I’m going to look at GameInformer’s November previews or VideoGamer.com’s The Evil Within review and assess how well they accomplish their goals. I want games writing to get better, and there’s a Hell of a lot of poor writing out there being branded as professional work.
I will be the games writing I want to see, and I will criticize the games writing that does not measure up. I don’t care what side of GamerGate you’re on, either. A more diverse games industry won’t fix the inability of media pundits to properly critique or analyze a game, or to fail to argue their way out of a paper bag. Before the gaming industry can “grow up”, it needs some real writers out there doing some real work. I aim to prove that most of them are simply not fit for the task.
I may sound like a conceited prick saying such things, but I’ve long since reached a point where I have begun taking out my mental red pen when reading “professional” pieces of games writing. I may not be the best writer, but I’m damn better than most of what’s out there, and I’m going to prove it.
And I’ll be doing it with a more fitting podium than the over-crowded noise box that is Twitter.