So Bob Chipman had a recent Game Overthinker episode encouraging people not to allow their identify to be co-opted by any one given cultural identifier. He’s also has some slightly (though heavily qualified) critical comments on some arguably ill-timed think pieces from last year. I don’t agree with everything in his piece. Mostly, I feel like he downplays the negative impacts that certain sub-groups of the culture have caused, but it’s good stuff and worth the 8 minutes to watch if you can spare the time.
But because I don’t agree with everything he said, I feel little to no irony at pointing to another think piece attacking gamers for their self-importance and the negative impact they’ve had on the industry. Via Offworld (if you’re not going to Offworld every day, what is wrong with you????), I came across this piece by Naomi Clark. Ms. Clark is a game designer and teacher, and she brings up some impressive observations about the way gamer tastes are shaping the industry.
It’s impossible to quote a section of her piece that isn’t already quoted by others, and for good reason. Just go read it. She is another writer who is so good with words, I cannot help but seethe with jealous rage when I look at her work and then at my own. Her food analogy is especially on-point and I think it syncs quite well with the association Mr. Chipman makes to the culture and Frito-Lay in his own piece. And given that these are two separate critics unassociated with each other both make the same analogy (modern AAA gaming as junk food that’s both of poor quality and bad for you), it’s worth serious consideration.
Put together these two pieces seem to illustrate that the biggest problems with gamers as a sub-culture, are all made by gamers themselves. Issues of quality, representation, labor practices, hyper-consumerism, taste, and identity are all owl-bears from our own Monster Manual. While there was a time when the industry was on shaky ground and outsiders who didn’t understand the attraction or value of the medium could have damaged or derailed it, these days most of the problems inherent in the industry and sub-culture are all self-created. It’s both a blessing and a curse. There are no existential threats to gaming anymore. Those days are gone. If we can just stopping crapping up the place ourselves, things could actually get really cool. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go get a mop.