It’s easy to respond to someone else’s allegiance to game, or piece of entertainment media, with everything about it that didn’t work for you. Sometimes we’re having a dialogue with friends or strangers that includes critique and exchanging opinions. Sometimes is not usually. If I log into Twitter and remark about a movie, game, television show or book I enjoy, I will receive more negative comments than positive. I will get comments from people who never engaged with those things, and their attitude is to prove it to them. Prove I like it, and why it has value.
This is not the way to be nice people. This is actually the way to be total jerks. It’s easy on social media because the keys are right there, but I see people do it in person consistently and constantly. Instead of slamming things we don’t like as hard as we can to the people who are fans, we could be the resisting the urge to be negative. Resisting the urge to be mean about someone else’s enthusiasm.
This isn’t just me asking for everyone to be a little nicer. I’ve probably turned a lot of people off to games over the course of my time gaming as a hobby. I don’t want to do that anymore. I really want to help people find the games they’ll love. And that means being more thoughtful, even careful, about how I express my feelings. I don’t think I have to self-censor my dislike for media. But if my only beef with a game is that I think it’s pacing mechanic is opposite of my personal taste, do I have to be rude to people to express that?
No. I don’t.
I didn’t look at story games for years because my first few peer groups gaming were incredibly negative about story games, or games some folks call indie. Years. The awesome stories I can retell about playing games like Fiasco almost never happened. Because my peer group were the people I looked to for help finding games. I grew up with more gamers in my life offline than online. I didn’t have a widespread, diverse group of people to say “Lily, you love horror. There are games built for that.” I had friends who slammed on any game system we didn’t play, and that was the end of that. I trusted my friends to help me find gaming experiences I’d get a lot out of.
Our negative reactions to a lot of games are deeply personal, but we attack instead of thoughtfully address. We attack games people love. And it’s a weird line to walk sometimes, because we have the urge to express how we feel, and those emotions are often difficult to guide. We don’t take a lot of time to celebrate what people love about their favorite games. We don’t say “Hey, if my friend likes this game I don’t dig, what are other games like that? What new things can I introduce them to, that’ll be in their wheelhouse?”
I’ve had a rough couple of weeks on social media, watching (and receiving) really negative, mean-spirited things being said about games and television and books folks love. Sometimes we don’t resist the urge to state our feelings aggressively, meanly, and without thought. But maybe we could work on that as a hobby. Identifying why we feel the way we do about games we love, and don’t love, would inform us as to where our urge to be a jerk about some games comes from. Now, if this weren’t online, I’d probably be giving in to the urge to use some profanity and vehement epithets about why mean people make me feel like being mean too. But if I’m going to try and be less of a jerk in my online spaces, I should commit to that offline too.
I love gaming, and I love everybody I game with to pieces. I may not love all the games y’all play, but I’m trying to be better about connecting games to people that will love them, regardless of me liking those games or not. Maybe we can all work on that together.
Any advice for connecting people to games you don’t personally dig? Got a tip for staying positive and thoughtful about explaining why a game didn’t do it for you? I’d really like to hear them.