Confessions of an Editor-in-Chief VII: The Last Word

It’s no longer headline news that the internet is both a blessing and curse. Information that was previously exclusive to libraries, school textbooks, etc, is now instantly accessible on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Instead of writing a letter, showing home movies or chatting over a cordless landline telephone, friends and family can now keep in constant contact with Skype, Facebook, Google+ and more. Online shopping completely changed the business landscape, as companies like Amazon and Google have turned consumer mouse clicks into billions of dollars in profit. This is all fine and dandy, but when it comes to discussing and debating topics of local, national or global scale, and especially of the gaming persuasion, humanity should really be ashamed of itself.

I regrettably consider myself in the minority group of gaming website browsers that avoids the comments section of news, previews, reviews, videos and editorials like the plague nowadays. After all, these communities have become nothing more than a cesspool of verbal filth and an overall exemplary lack of character. At the same time, this trend isn’t surprising since communication of such nature is a direct result of the universal corruption of the human heart. Am I better off for staying away from the fray? You better believe it. Seriously, it wouldn’t kill everyone to take a step back and think about these things. Imagine the time and sanity alone that you could and would save!

Again, I know this is nothing new. You may already feel exasperated reading this piece as I did writing it, knowing that the topic of immature little kids, bratty teenagers and childish adults trolling online publications has been beaten to death a million times over. I understand and empathize. Still, I feel for those who noticeably extend a conscious effort to behave themselves and adhere to conservative, moral principle but sadly never have to wait more than a few minutes to witness a meaningful, enjoyable conversation become the sole property of people interested only in starting a fight, giving someone a cutting piece of their mind or just talking as though they’re the only knowledgeable ones.

To be fair, we’re all capable of it. I’m just as able to direct a comment that is malicious to someone, or simply perceived as such, as anyone else. No one is immune. Frankly I wonder if two people ever have peacefully agreed to disagree online about anything. Probably not, as there’s always someone who can’t go to sleep at night until he or she is absolutely convinced that the last word about something was theirs…only to discover the next day that this wasn’t the case, and the vicious cycle continues. I can only imagine that these people are so disturbingly obsessed with being right that they set themselves up to receive instant notifications on their electronic devices that can be immediately replied to so a response post is issued, you know, just incase their opponent(s) are active and facing little to no resistance. It certainly wouldn’t be right for a flame war foe to enjoy a monopoly on expressing his or her contradictory opinion. Even if one of the participants decides enough is enough, another typically picks up the slack and keeps the ball rolling. Then when everyone finally gives it a rest, or is pulled elsewhere by another battle of wits, the aftermath makes it almost impossible to pick out what were the worthwhile aspects of the total exchange. This is a sad world we live in, no? And no one cares.

Let’s face it; reason and calm attitudes have been shoved out the door in favor of opportunities for millions of insecure gamers who require a constant ego petting to vainly pursue just that on a daily basis. Being considerate and polite is a thing of the past; it’s no longer relevant, but rather scorned and condemned. To make matters worse, since that craving can never truly be satisfied, the public arena that is these comments sections quickly degenerates from a band of videogame lovers trying to rub friendly elbows to a concert of fools singing their repetitiously groan-worthy choruses, and everyone is consequently pulled into it. The outcome sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard in one’s mind, and all for the sake of the insistence to throw a verbal punch at someone the perpetrator will likely never meet. I’d seriously love to watch one of these people do this in a face-to-face context, though we all know that would obviously never happen.

The industry could employ the best of the best published article and forum moderators out there, but it plainly wouldn’t matter. I haven’t even mentioned SPAM, and I’m refraining from it, as that is a beast on its own. These days if I desire advice on how to conquer an obstacle in a game I’m playing, I prefer to peruse a professional walkthrough. I truthfully avoid forums at all costs because the last thing I’m interested in reading is an unnecessary, uncalled for and altogether unattractive comment demeaning another poster. I don’t care who started it or what the provocation was. It’s a joke, plain and simple.

Don’t bother asking me, “What if the person deserved it?” In reality, who are you to claim a superior anything over another human being? No one’s perfect; certainly not I, and definitely not you either. Do you enjoy others pointing out your obvious faults?! Think of the hypocrisy that entails subjecting another human being to a standard that you haven’t even begun to achieve, or at least don’t in a consistent fashion, whether it’s gaming skill, general intelligence and knowledge or likes and dislikes. If more people were more apt to considering others more significant than themselves, there would be potentially less ridiculous name-calling and unbelievably squandered time, and more friendships being formed. Yet instead, because man is by nature completely self-absorbed, anything that violates this truth is met right away with substantially ugly hostility rather than uncommonly humble graciousness. I’m not going to waste my breath calling for some kind of gaming communication revolution. Not only do I have zero capacity to bring that about, or change people at all for the matter, but I rather leave this in the hands of the One that does operate in His way and time. I’m thankful for that; otherwise society would be far worse off than it already is.

The next time you’re tempted to lay siege to someone you can’t even see with a scathing remark, try to stop and think for a moment, and recall that you don’t like it too well either. Plus, do I really have to state the obvious fact that ridicule accomplishes nothing? A little kindness and respect go a long way, and you might be surprised by the results. Child, teenager, adult…each can and should be treated with dignity. If this was a priority for more members of the gaming population, much more fun would be had. End of story.

Previous Entries:
Confessions I: Click here
Confessions II: Click here
Confessions III: Click here
Confessions IV: Click here
Confessions V: Click here
Confessions VI: Click here

4 thoughts on “Confessions of an Editor-in-Chief VII: The Last Word”

  1. Every single article on ign.com now turns into a flame war between Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft fanboys. It’s so ridiculous. Yet, I can somehow relate as I used to kind of do the same thing when I myself was a fanboy many many years ago. Still, I’m very glad I was able to change. You should also see the comments on youtube, it’s disgusting. Some of the comments are just plain cruel. It’s sad to see how people can suddenly grow a pair when there is absolutely no consequences to what they write. It’s totally anonymous too.

    What I don’t get is when people view videos on youtube of subjects they don’t like and then bash it. I’m not the biggest fan of rap music, but I can respect that some people like it. I won’t make a point to go see videos on youtube just to try and detract them, or make them feel bad for liking something that I don’t.

    I don’t have a problem with critics though. If you think something can be improved, of if you don’t like something, there are ways to have a nice discussion about it without disrespecting the subject or the people who like it. The movie industry is a perfect example of this. The internet seems to like bitching about movies. It is so easy to go see a movie and rip it apart. I absolutely adored the Dark Knight (my favourite movie ever) but I could easily write a review or make a “nostalgia critic” (btw I love the nostalgia critic) style video of it. It’s easy. Writing about the good stuff however, I find a lot harder. That’s why most of my reviews tend to talk more about the bad stuff of a game. It’s just easier to say what you dislike and what you’d like to see improved in future installments. And that’s ok, since really, if someone would give me advice on my work, I’d much rather know what I need to work on. But, the movie critics online (and everybody else) just go to far.

    The same can be said about game reviews too, but what I find funny is the scores issue. I’ve made it clear before that I think a review should not have a score attached to it. Scores say nothing to me. Everything time I read a review on ign, I take a small peek at the comments section. It’s incredible how many people waste time debating about points. Sometimes, guys are angry because the game got a 8.5 and they though it should have gotten a 9. Or the game got a 9.6, but another game (from a totally different genre) got a 9.8, and they think that the 9.6 game is the better game and they do berserk. Heck, there are games that got in the 6 range that I absolutely adore. Read the damm review people. What matters is in there.

  2. Nicely stated. I guess the fact that you’re anonymous gives you more confidence to speak your mind and then some, hence the internet hate. I’ve written something similar awhile back on a subject that pertains to internet game reviewers. I have no idea where this hate and envy is coming from.

    The big problem is once you point out that someone is being impolite, they immediately go on the defense and say that you can’t take “constructive criticism”. Sadly, in the internet one can no longer tell between pure hate and constructive criticism because many people assume that both intertwine.

    I sometimes continue to do so when it comes to gaming companies, but I have to be harsh and call it as I see it because I’m so passionate about it. But I don’t think I’ve crossed the line of ripping a new one as some would put it.

    1. Yeah, anonymity is a significant ingredient in all the chaos. I just can’t believe sometimes that parents seem completely oblivious to this conduct. If I was a parent, and may very well be in the next few years :)…I would be mortified to discover that my child was berating people over the internet like you see these days. It’s just incredible how insensitive people are…and there is just no accountability. Then again, parents are probably just as guilty of this garbage, further exacerbating the problem >_>

      Especially in the States, you’ll see people claiming “It’s a free country, I can say what I want.”, when ironically that isn’t the case. They’ll claim ‘First Amendment’ rights, but that defense is a farce, because the First Amendment of our Constitution does not protect and has nothing to do with things that you say to other fellow citizens.

      And in response to those whom you describe that claim their comments are “constructive criticism”, that’s mitigating responsibility that they have zero right to mitigate. Regardless of whether or not someone’s comments to you are loving or hateful, it’s your responsibility how you react. You can’t control how others respond to things you say, but it’s still your responsibility to be kind and considerate.

      Overall, I think the battle lies within whether you’re ‘attacking’ an issue, or a person. These are dramatically different concepts, and can absolutely determine your verbal and non-verbal demeanor. Sadly, people just don’t think anymore.

  3. I’ve made it a general rule to never look at comments on IGN or YouTube, or other such sites…because it’s just depressing and awful. Any comments that seem somewhat genuine are always buried beneath a mountain of petty insults, nonsensical memes and lame internet jokes, pointless arguing or needlessly inflammatory remarks. An example of this was IGN’s review of Catherine. The reviewer seemed to genuinely love the game, and gave it a score of 9. The immediate response was a stream of venom bashing on the author for “praising the game too much.” Then you get people who feel they HAVE to defend the game or defend the author and then they get into a rant-fest that lasts several pages. It’s pointless.

    I admit to getting into it sometimes. There are just times I feel like I want to correct someone or respond to something I find offensive, and I think a lot of people on the Internet do the same on a regular basis. It’s far easier to start an argument because entering text into a field is so easy and you don’t have any fear of reprisal due to anonymity. I think one of the last comment wars just on my own facebook page, with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Disagreeing about the value of the game is fine. A friend of mine was really disappointed in the list of characters, so I told him to just not buy it then. But I didn’t appreciate being called an idiot because I like MVC3, I felt like I got my money’s worth, and I planned to get the next version. Expressing a difference of opinion should not indicate a lack of intelligence, but unfortunately, that’s what a lot of gamers do. “You like this thing that I don’t like? You’re retarded.”

    I was even more terrified to see comments on news stories that reported on the crisis in Japan, because it was typically a bunch of racist, bigoted filth. There were people saying things like, “That’s karma for Pearl Harbor!” And I just thought, “They would NEVER say that kind of garbage in public.”

    I think modern gamer culture is, well….cynical and rash. It seems to me that many gamers just love to rant and whine on anything. No matter what game you look at on any gaming website, I guarantee the comments section will leave you with a negative feeling in the pit of your stomach. Trolling has become so commonplace that gamers just accept it, and the concensus for many is just “It’s the Internet, accept it.” People don’t even seem willing to acknowledge their behavior is atrocious…they just say that it’s internet, and you should deal with it.

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