My daughter this morning was lamenting the fact that in Roblox, a game she used to love when younger, the ability to play as a guest has now been removed. Apparently, it was fun to ‘roast’ guests, who often had no clue of the way certain games worked. I told her that this was probably the reason why the ability has been removed: is it really the right thing to do when someone is new to the game to give them a hard time? Shouldn’t you be helping them out and not abusing them?
I read yesterday an article discussing a forum post that Jeff Kaplan wrote last week, lamenting what a tough crowd the Overwatch fanbase is to deal with. The gaming community has always been a particularly brutal audience, especially when it comes to changes to popular characters. Here’s a man who admits that the attitude of this group of players is having a direct effect on him and his team. It’s a fairly shocking revelation because for years the Warcraft community pretty much destroyed their developers without anyone batting an eyelid.
Except last year an individual was convicted of sending death threats to Blizzard. The line between threat and joke has now blurred to a point where everything has to be potentially considered as dangerous. There needs to be the means of ensuring that gaming remains a safe place to play, but at the same time, there’s an increase in the competitive elements. Overwatch is about to launch its own worldwide league. Pretending to kill people for fun is about to become big business.
Game companies will tell you, time and again, that their output is purely entertainment and there is no direct link between video game violence and its real-life counterpart. It doesn’t matter that we allow our children to roast their ‘anonymous’ friends and do the same ourselves on Social media under made up names. Increasing social freedom is giving people free reign to simply say what they wish, often without any recourse because unless there’s a credible threat, it won’t ever be an issue. I keep being told not to try and understand why a wealthy, seemingly stable man massacred nearly 60 people, but keep coming back to the same conclusion.
Society doesn’t condemn this kind of behaviour anymore. We just accept it as normal.
Anybody can be a killer, or an abuser, and yet with each passing day, we allow and often encourage people to do the same. Instead of asking everybody to look within themselves and to alter their behaviour, there is an automatic assumption there are just ‘bad guys’ and that if we eliminate them, everything will be okay. Don’t let people be guests, and suddenly the problem’s dealt with is probably a simplistic solution: it would be better to be like Kaplan and explain why you’re hurting the game to begin with. The problem comes when your killer has no criminal record, lived an exemplary life and showed no potential to be a psychopath. Sometimes, however hard you try, there’s no way to avoid a disaster.
The real truth is that thousands of people are dying every minute, around the world, of things we could easily prevent: malnutrition, via conflict, through systematic torture and subjugation. These stories never make the news because, yet again, we have become immune to our own inhumanity. In this respect, everybody has blame to share, especially those of us who publicly decide to ignore one side of a story to highlight the facet of most significance to ourselves. In that regard, news organisations, multinational corporations and governments are far more culpable than individuals, but perhaps if we stopped teaching our kids to shoot each other at an early age, there might be a change.
I wonder if it is truly possible to stop people wanting to hurt each other to begin with.