There’s been a lot of ugly, ugly shit going around online this past week. In the last few days the gaming ‘scene’ has become a pretty horrible place. I’m not going to go into details, because the details are splashed luridly all over the place already. I’m not going to link to anything, because you’ve all probably read enough articles about this by now. And I’m not going to name any names, because really it’s none of my business.

It’s none of your business, either. And I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here, that none of the people responsible for the heinous crap that’s going around are likely to read this. But I think places like Reddit and 4chan are psychological poison, so I’m probably not going to get this across to the kind of people I’d like to address. Instead I’ll just leave it here, and hope that someone finds it beneficial, somehow.

The abuse of individuals by militant groups of utter assholes has reached a stage that frankly beggars belief. I’m confused by just how awful it’s possible for people to be, sitting, alone, in front of a screen and a keyboard, how they’re capable of spewing such abuse into a Twitter box, reviewing it, and considering it something worthwhile to send into the world. Not just into the world, to direct at a person, at another individual, sitting just like them in front of some sort of screen, typing on some sort of keyboard. It’s baffling. And horrible.

And the people who are trying to brand this as a matter of ‘morals’ or ‘ethics’ as a way of justifying their hateful opinions are almost worse. At least the real trolls, the ones behind the doxxing attacks and the actual death threats, probably know that what they’re doing is awful. They probably relish it for exactly this reason, and are truly hateful people for that,  but it’s those who genuinely believe they’re in the right by encouraging this behaviour that really confuse me.

Let’s be clear. People’s private lives are none of your business. Doesn’t matter if they’re a public figure. Doesn’t matter if they’ve done something you find personally distasteful. Doesn’t matter if you think you can use their situation to justify or further a particular agenda of yours.

If there’s a press issue involved, then let the press acknowledge and deal with it, as they have in this case. That’s part of their job. It’s nothing to do with the bulk of people on 4chan. It’s none of their business. It’s none of your business.

The lack of basic empathy in this situation is staggering. These people are people, just like you, just trying to work on something they believe is important, to contribute something of value. Maybe you don’t like whatever it is they’re trying to contribute. That’s fine, that’s your prerogative. If you don’t like it, don’t pay it any attention. It’s not going to affect you in any way. You can be damn sure these creators don’t give a damn about what you’re doing, so why get so angry, so terribly terribly angry, about what they’re doing? Where’s the threat? What are you so scared to lose, that you’re willing to forgo basic human decency to protect it?

It’s the lack of empathy that gets me. The complete inability of people to put themselves in the shoes of others, to think how they must feel to be on the receiving end of this shit.

Empathy; the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Let’s try empathy, shall we? Please? I’m going to try empathy.

Because I get it. I actually do. I get that it’s nice to have your safe space, your little piece of culture that caters to your views, your tastes, yours specifically and no one else’s. To have a place where you feel you belong, because maybe you didn’t feel you belonged in the kinds of environments most people feel they belong in.

And I get that it’s nice when a huge industry springs up around your little piece of culture, when suddenly huge corporations are producing products that feel like they were made just for you, that they are serving you and only you. It makes you feel important. It gives you an identity. Now you can identify as ‘gamer’, and it means something.

And I get that it’s scary when people come into your space, people you can’t identify with and have agendas that are different to yours. I get that, because you’re human and we’re all afraid of change. But being afraid of change is not an excuse. The behaviour that’s gone on this past week – the personal attacks, the threats, the abuse, the hacking – is inexcusable.

And what, exactly, do you think you’re protecting? What’s the worth of a ‘culture’ that exists only on a destructive cycle of spite? A masturbatory circle-jerk of tired, archaic, bigoted opinions is not a culture.

If you really have something to say about gaming culture, go and create something. Join the conversation. Make a stand about what you believe in in some meaningful way. Banding together to tear down individuals who have done you no harm, destroying people’s lives to try and prove a point only proves everyone you disagree with right.

Every time a new hate-tweet is fired off from the keyboard of an angry ‘gamer’, they are proving everyone who says that gaming culture is toxic right. Everyone who says that gaming culture needs to change is right. Everyone who says that the identity of the ‘gamer’ is dead, that the time of the ‘gamer’ is over, is right.

This is not a culture I, or anyone with a functioning sense of morality, wants to be a part of, because this is not a culture. A culture is a sharing of ideas. A coming together of people. A creative congregation of different views. A culture is not death threats, it’s not rape threats,  it’s not a barrage of Twitter abuse, it’s not 20-minute YouTube videos proclaiming a single person’s private life the death of games journalism. If this is how you think a culture works, then you don’t get to have a say.

Want to make a statement about gaming culture? Great. Do that. But before you do, please, goddamn it, try to think about it like a human being. And try some fucking empathy.

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