In recent years, the video game community… hasn’t exactly gotten the best reputation. Indeed, thanks to all the controversies in the industry and responses on social media, many people have gone as far as to label it toxic, with some developers even stating that’s a reason they don’t give much information about their games’ development process.
But here’s the thing:
This couldn’t possibly be further from the truth. Indeed, not only is gaming generally not toxic, but in fact it’s actually far less so than many other groups out there. Every hobby or interest has its more unhinged followers, and many of those actually make gamers look utterly tame by comparison!
For example, there are obviously the cases of more ‘serious’ topics like politics which have more than their share of crazy fanatics, and ten times more hatred and trolling on social media than gaming could ever have.
And there’s been a fair bit of violence associated with real life sports too. Forget eSports, its real sports which has the gangs and riots on certain occasions and that was once one of the catalysts for a literal war.
But even ignoring those examples, what about other media. Are gamers ‘uniquely’ bad compared to music or film or TV fans?
In fact, even compared to many music or film fans, the gaming community is actually pretty damn normal.
Take the Justin Bieber fanbase for instance. Everytime he gets a girlfriend, the woman gets flooded with threats from jealous fangirls. Everywhere he goes online falls into insanity. Heck, there was even a case where a hotel he was at needed to change their number, cause his fans flooded the telephone lines with calls and made it impossible for anyone else to use the phones there.
And other instances of such insanity have been found with every musician and band. There are fans who’ve tweeted enough for a restraining order. Fans who’ve broken into their idol’s house and wrote on the walls. Even a horrifying case of potential animal cruelty caused by the same. Where someone seemingly murdered their dog because their favourite band didn’t follow them on Twitter.
Film fans and TV show fans aren’t much better. The fandoms for Doctor Who, Star Trek and Sherlock alone can be a hotbed of flame wars and trolling, with one of the showrunners from the former practically driven off Twitter because of it. Book fandoms? Well, Lord of the Rings, Twilight, Harry Potter… they’ve all got their insane individuals too.
And the same goes for practically every hobby or interest in existence. Are you into technology? Then you’ll find ‘toxic’ individuals there. Tabletop games, pro wrestling, comics, fashion… heck even stage magic and scrapbooking have insane people who are interested in them. Karaoke has gotten people murdered in some countries too, with fights breaking over songs picked in bars.
Even managing forums is serious business to some people. To the point flame wars break out over whether vBulletin, XenForo or IPB is better. Where developers are followed around by haters who comment on every post about how they’re ruining the software.
Basically, crazy folks are everywhere. Psychopathic nutcases exist in almost every field you can end up in.
They’re not unique to gaming, nor more common in it. What’s more, gamers aren’t even any more extreme either. Count the crimes caused by video games. The actual attacks on developers by insane fans or supporters.
Can you even name any examples? Because I can’t.
But even if I could, the key message is thus:
These folks are always a small minority. They’re not representative of the average fan, supporter or participant, and they shouldn’t be taken as symbolic of the group as a whole. You wouldn’t say TV viewers are toxic because some of them get into flame wars over their favourite shows online or believe soap operas are real, nor would you write off whole sports and mediums because a couple of extremists acted out of line.
So why would you do the same for gaming?
It’s only as ‘toxic’ as anything else you may be involved in, and the demonization of the hobby and its fans really needs to stop. The ‘gaming community’ isn’t toxic. At most, a small percentage of gamers online are.
Thank you for reading.