You really need to care less about video games.
I really didn’t want to write about this again. I really didn’t. I was having lunch last week with another games journalist, (yes, we hang out sometimes), and we both lamented the amount of people who are weighing into this topic with nothing more to say.
But I feel compelled. Because GamerGate has just become so batshit crazy that something needs to be said. This goes beyond “there’s a conspiracy in gaming” levels to “oh my god, these people are nuts”. I’m referring to this article, which suggests games journalists talking on a mailing list is somehow unethical.
But I don’t want to talk about that. Not really.
Here’s the thing. When I was 12, I had this huge collage on my bedroom wall. I had spent months cutting out pictures of my favourite bands and artists, and I stuck them to my wall in this massive tapestry of magazine paper. Honestly, it looked pretty cool. Certainly a talking point for little 12 year old me. I loved looking at the pictures on that wall, thinking that, yes, this was awesome. It was an expression of what I loved. It defined me.
And isn’t that the way in your teenage years? So much of your identity is still being formed so you connect yourself to other things. It’s why teenagers dress up in wacky clothes and dye their hair and do all sorts of stupid shit. It’s because they’re searching for an identity. I loved books, movies and above all, video games. I loved them so much I hated anyone who criticised them. Hated them.
But this is what happens when you get older: you stop giving a shit.
As you become more comfortable in your identity, the need to externalise that in objects and tangible things falls away. I remember the day I looked at the collage on my wall and thought…why? Why is this here? I don’t need pictures on my wall to be a fan of something.
There’s nothing wrong with having pictures on a wall, of course. But something clicked within my head. I no longer felt any pressure to externalise what I liked about something. I don't care if anyone *knows* I'm a fan of something. It's enough to just I’d rather leave that room on the wall for something else.
Another thing happened after that day. I started caring less about other people’s opinions.
See, people get pissed off way too easily. You don’t like what I like? Well, I’m going to spend the next hour convincing you that blah blah blah. Who gives a shit. Mark Serrels, Kotaku Australia editor, wrote about this a while ago more eloquently than I can. He makes an excellent point:
It’s pretty painful to continue taking negativity personally, and it’s exhausting to continue being an ‘angry person on the internet’. You are more than the video games you play; the movies you watch and the music you listen to should be of little consequence to others, and you shouldn’t take it personally when others feel differently about the things you love.
Look at that: You are more than the things you love. You are. You are so much more. The angst and anxiety you feel when someone "attacks" the medium you love is an extension of you not being content in what you love. That angst is a drive to make everyone respect and like the same things you do.
Stop doing that. You'll be so much happier.
Three years ago I spent $400 on going to see Michael Buble in concert. People made fun of me for it at work? Know what I said?
Because I don't give a shit. I love what I love, and my life is so much better when I don't worry about what they think.
This is what a lot of the people behind GamerGate have yet to realise: gaming shouldn’t be an identity. It should be a pastime that you love or enjoy. That’s it.
Once you wrap yourself into videogames and make them an intrinsic part of your personality, obviously any hint – however misguided – that it’s being attacked is going to seem personal.
Some advice: stop doing that. You’re stressing yourself out. It is no way to live.
I love videogames too. Love them. But during the past three months, I’ve barely picked up a controller. Know why? I’ve been taking care of my newborn son along with my wife who needs constant assistance with that. I’m working a job that takes up 50 hours a week. I’m doing freelancing work.
Games are great, yes, but the reason a lot of the people in this movement are so young is because they have the time and energy to devote to this medium. (Not all of them are young, I realise this). It’s because they’re still in a stage of life where a pastime is intrinsically wrapped up in their identities.
But as you get older, as the responsibilities of life start weighing on you, you’ll start thinking differently. Gaming won’t become something that defines you, but rather something you do on the side to make life more enjoyable. Which is what they should be! (Because they’re videogames, after all. Games).
I thought I’d be in hell not playing a game for the past three months, but no. I’ve been focusing on way more important things. Which isn’t to say I won’t have fun when the next Assassin’s Creed comes out. (I’m dying for Super Smash Brothers). It just means that if I have to wait a week before playing it, or if I don’t get as much time to it as I used to, I’m not going to die.
Because here are the things that make up my identity: My faith. My family. My job. My passions, (which extend far beyond videogames, by the way).
A well-rounded person is more than just one thing. You should be reading books, watching movies, talking to people who think differently than you. You should be trying new experiences, getting outdoors, travelling, seeing the world, eating new foods every week. Learning to cook, learning to ride a mountain bike, picking up a snowboard. You should be talking to Muslims, Christians, atheists and people of all faiths. You should be considering other points of view.
It’s okay to be pissed off about ethics in games journalism. It’s okay to be passionate about something like videogames. That’s all fine. It’s okay to have those discussions. I want to have them too.
Just stop making games your identity. Take those pictures off your metaphorical wall. Once you do, suddenly, things that used to seem like personal attacks won’t be nearly as painful. And maybe, once you start filling your life with a variety of other objects of interest, games will take up a small but still important place in your mind – and you’ll start to appreciate them for what they really are: A pleasant accompaniment to the rest of your life.