Of the many fandoms in popular entertainment, gamers are undeniably one of (if not) the most controversial. Like any other fandom, the gaming community has its imperfections and problems. However, things got infinitely worse and even more dangerous around the time video games cemented their place in the mainstream.
For one reason or another, gamers used being part of one of the most popular pastimes in the world to unleash their darkest impulses. Obviously, not all gamers behave this reprehensibly. It could even be argued that the community’s worst only represents a loud minority of gamers. However, these gamers tarnished the entire community’s reputation.
Sensitive topics will be discussed. Proceed with caution.
10 Prioritizing Realistic Graphics Over Everything Else
Video game development has evolved so drastically in just a few years that photorealistic games have become the norm in the AAA space. This, however, inadvertently fostered a limited worldview among gamers. It’s become common for gamers to demand hyper-realistic graphics above everything else that makes a good game.
Story, gameplay, style, and more are sacrificed so that graphics and cutscenes can look as real or “cinematic” as possible. Not only does this stagnate games like the visually impressive but formulaic Call of Duty, but it also led to a homogeneity among blockbuster games that the medium has yet to break free from.
9 Falling For The Hype Train Every Time
Getting excited about an upcoming game is perfectly normal, but a certain stripe of gamers takes the hype train too far. Some gamers are so certain that a forthcoming game is going to be perfect that they promote it and even fight in its name. The rise and fall of Cyberpunk 2077 is a perfect case study of this extremism.
Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most anticipated games of recent memory. Even before they played or bought it, gamers put it on a pedestal and attacked anyone who dared contradict their excitement. Cyberpunk 2077 was a disaster on launch, gamers refused to admit their mistakes, and the hype cycle will inevitably repeat.
8 Defending Unethical Games Studios In The Name Of Their Favorite IPs
Gamers understandably get defensive when their favorite games come under intense criticism, but they often go the needless extra mile by defending studios that made questionable or even illegal decisions. Because of this, studios that ignore major problems, engage in unethical practices, or outright deceive buyers are often given a pass.
Bethesda got away with releasing broken and buggy games for years because gamers were too attached to The Elder Scrollsor Falloutto get mad. Similarly, Valve arguably started the predatory micro-transaction boom through the classic class-based shooter Team Fortress 2’s Mann Co. Supply Crates, and their dedicated fans justified them every step of the way.
7 Gatekeeping Games For The Pettiest Reasons
Like any other hobby, gaming has a gatekeeping problem. That said, gamers are some of the most notorious and worst kinds of gatekeepers. Whether it’s because of accessibility controls or the option to lower a game’s difficulty level, gamers can and will find any excuse to keep certain people out of the fandom.
Gatekeepers mocked those who asked if Dark Soulsor the almost-perfect Elden Ring had easier modes. Recent games like The Last of Us Part II that added accessibility features were attacked for doing so. It was obvious that gatekeepers wanted to preserve the sense of superiority and exclusivity that playing games “the right way” gave them.
6 Attacking Games Journalists For Doing Their Job
While the games press isn’t perfect, gamers inexplicably decided that gaming journalists were their sworn enemies. Whether it was because a certain journalist reviewed a game “wrong” or because a site criticized a studio for its questionable practices, journalists have been routinely and viciously bullied online by angry gamers.
Recently, gamers fought for Nintendo by attacking Kotaku for covering the leaked The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Since they were blacklisted by Nintendo, Kotaku was under no obligation to honor an NDA. Despite this, gamers bullied Kotaku, claiming the site “ruined” the game, Nintendo, and the legacy of Zelda and its iconic heroes.
5 Deliberately Infantilizing The Gaming Medium
The paradoxical thing about some gamers is that they want their favorite hobby to be seen as a respectable art form, while at the same time demanding it still be treated as escapist fun free of critical thought. Because of this, games got caught in an artistic limbo where they’re expected to be taken seriously yet graded on a curve.
Besides making life harder for those who appraise games, the mindset that games were “just games” (or toys) was used to justify certain gamers’ double standards. Gamers complained that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossuswas too “political” because it had Nazi enemies. They then gave Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 a pass for its far-right subtext because Ubisoft claimed it was “apolitical.”
4 Playing The Victim Despite Already Being At The Top
There used to be a time when video games as a hobby and profession were looked down upon. This condescending mindset faded into memory, as gaming became more widespread and accepted. However, some gamers still think that they’re the underdogs who are owed everything despite gaming being the norm for years.
Entitlement always existed among gamers, but it got worse when conservative reactionaries rose to prominence. Since then, gamers became more aggressive. This could manifest in petty complaints about Cult of the Lamb being too short at just around 20 hours, or something as dangerous as GamerGate demanding that industry inclusion be rolled back.
3 Politicizing Games For The Wrong Reasons
Gamers love to preach about how games should be “apolitical” and “objective” entertainment, but then get politically motivated when a certain game becomes the center of controversy. Problem is, these kinds of gamers tend to loudly support games that are almost always on the wrong moral side, such as Hogwarts Legacy.
Hogwarts Legacy was a mediocre open-world game that was controversial because of its ties to J.K. Rowling. When some people called for a boycott in response to Rowling’s transphobia, gamers bought it in droves to spite her critics. Hogwarts Legacy became a rallying cry for hateful gamers but quickly vanished when it fell in popularity.
2 Enabling & Encouraging Sexism & Homophobia
Despite the fact that women make up a large percentage of gamers and developers then and now, video games have been perceived as a predominantly male hobby and industry for decades. Women in gaming were given more prominence than before, and this angered some gamers so much that they fought back hard against this.
This was most evident in GamerGate. Under the guise of pursuing “ethics in games journalism,” the harassment campaign attacked any woman who questioned gaming’s male status quo. GamerGate died down, but the homophobia and misogyny it energized are still present. The hatred aimed towards The Last of Us Part II’s controversial Abby is a lingering example.
1 Enabling & Encouraging Racism
People of color were always in the gaming community and industry, but they’ve been overshadowed by their white contemporaries for the longest time. Recently, there’s been a push to rectify this institutional bias by spotlighting characters, gamers, and developers of color. Certain swathes of gamers hated this inclusion.
Gamers used selective terminology to “logically” exclude people of color from games. As bad as it was, it’s hard to deny that racism played a part in the disproportionate vitriol Forspokengot. Conversely, Kingdom Come: Deliverance was praised by gamers because Warhorse Studios justified its all-white cast with “historical accuracy.”
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