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High Horse: When is a gaming community not a community? When it's a selfish, self-destructive mess

High Horse is a rotating opinion column in which GamesRadar editors and guest writers are invited to express their personal thoughts on games, the people who play them and the industry at large.

If a friend’s ageing dog died, and your friend was upset, would you laugh in his face and tell him that it was his own fault for having an old dog? If he lost his job, would you tell him that he probably should have been better at it? No you wouldn’t. Because doing either of those things would make you a total cock. Similarly, if a bully was alternating between which of the two of you he picked on each day, would you choose to side with the bully on your days off?

No, you wouldn’t do that either, because it would be illogical, would improve nothing, and would result only in fracturing your relationship with the strongest potential ally you would have in such a situation. But the gaming community does all of the above. Because it’s frequently not a community at all. It’s frequently an unpleasant, in-fighting, self-aggrandisement club, taking the “I’m alright so screw everyone else” angle to everything, and making things worse for everyone as a result. An eye for an eye, it increasingly seems, makes the whole world just another idiot on a forum.

Above: Because, you know, like different shaped pads and stuff. THEY MUST HATE

I’m not saying that everyone should be exclusively nice to each other. The world would be a dull, unhealthy and utterly regressive place if we didn’t hurl bile and venom at the right targets while calling out everyday bullshit. But the fact is, gaming bile all too often isn’t about that. Gaming bile is all too often just a bunch of blind chimps directionlessly flinging their own shit at every target but the right one. 

The 360 version of Battlefield 3 looks like total ass if you’re trying to play it on a 4Gb machine? “LOL! Your fault for buying a 4Gb baby console!” The PS3 version of Skyrim has glitches capable of making it unplayable? “HA That’s what you get for not being a PC gamer!” That increasingly seems to be the logic of online forums and comment threads. But let’s think about this. Let’s think about what’s really going on in both of the cases above. A game has been released – knowingly or not – with severe flaws which make it unable to fulfil the function that it was advertised as providing.

That isn’t the consumer’s fault for playing it on the ‘wrong’ system. A video game released commercially for any platform needs to actually bloody work on that platform. Yet instead of acknowledging, that we blame each other. We make jokes at each other’s expense, and we revel in each other’s pain and disappointment. We do everything except address the actual problem that needs to be addressed in order to improve things for all of us. And that, my friends, is just a great big slab of pathetic behaviour.

Above: A philosophy of every-man-for-himself is exactly what Rapture was built on. That worked out fine, right?

I touched upon the self-defeating stupidity of blind company loyalty in last week's column, but the fact is, we make it far worse than that once the in-fighting starts. And like all fanboyism, it’s not even about whose side is superior. It’s just about whose e-peen is smallest and who is most insecure about their purchasing choices. Unable to accept that any aspect of his life may just be a banal, everyday event rather than ammunition with which to prove how superior he is to the rest of humanity, the fanboy must use an irrelevant consumer electronics purchasing choice to assert his great wisdom to the world.

So to the fanboy, a substandard product isn’t an incrimination of the company that produced it, instead it’s a vindication of his own inalienable personal qualities. As long as he wasn’t unlucky enough to buy it, that is. If he was, the mockery he’ll suffer himself will force him to make equally inane denials of the problem.

Hmmm, hang on a minute, this sounds familiar. The delusion that unrelated world events are actually centred around oneself, combined with a paranoid need to impart aggression upon others in order to maintain the illusion, while denying the importance of events which don’t fit the chosen world view? “Fanboyism” isn’t the only phrase to describe that, you know. “Paranoid schizophrenia” is good too.

And all this time, all the while that gamers are attacking each other for the mistakes and failings of large, fairly anonymous multinational companies, said companies are finding things just a little bit easier.


Above: If you tolerate this, then your framerates will be next 

Know this: For all of your adoring loyalty to a game developer or publisher, for all of the special relationship you think you enjoy, for all the support that you think you owe them for all of the good times they’ve provided you over the years, most big game companies do not know or care who you are. They like your money though, so cheers for all of that. Not to mention the years of free advertising and propaganda.

So yeah, fanboys attacking each other over corporate mistakes is frankly just insane. Gamers should only ever sympathise with each other in these situations. Because whatever any gamer might choose to believe about his system or company of choice, the fact is that if a corporation is willing to dick over one segment of its consumer-base, it’s willing to dick over another one later down the line. By siding against your fellow consumer, all you’re doing is setting yourself up for an eventual fall. In any other industry, consumers would band together to fight this stuff. In gaming though, we pull apart and accept it.

Because hey, how important is better service really, compared to a small, anonymous ego boost based around precisely f*all that matters?

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85 comments

  • Rowdie - November 28, 2011 5:05 p.m.

    It's hard to feel bad for PS3 fan. I'm not at all convinced as a group they belong in the gamer community. When 90 percent of the people lined up to buy the system say they're buying it for a reason other than games they hardly garner the gamer tag. Now if the system was messing up playing bluray movies then perhaps some sympathy. Along those some lines, we don't all feel bad for Wii gamers when they don't get all the popular titles that appear on both the PS3 and 360. Do we really care if kids on the yellow bus poke fun at each other? There's nothing wrong with a little ribbing between adults. And honestly, some game stutter 60 hours in to the experience is hardly compatible to death of a dog or loss of a job.
  • johno_kush - December 20, 2011 12:42 a.m.

    "When 90 percent of the people lined up to buy the system say they're buying it for a reason other than games" 90%? I'd like to see where you got those facts
  • norkkron - November 28, 2011 2:02 p.m.

    didn't read the article, but: If a friend’s ageing dog died, and your friend was upset, would you laugh in his face and tell him that it was his own fault for having an old dog? yes If he lost his job, would you tell him that he probably should have been better at it? yes No you wouldn’t. wrong Because doing either of those things would make you a total cock sounds like opinion to me, dick. don't judge me.
  • norkkron - November 28, 2011 2:18 p.m.

    ok i read it now: The delusion that unrelated world events are actually centred around oneself, combined with a paranoid need to impart aggression upon others in order to maintain the illusion, while denying the importance of events which don’t fit the chosen world view? “Fanboyism” isn’t the only phrase to describe that, you know. “Paranoid schizophrenia” is good too. after reading that my first thought was "religion"
  • BleedingHatMcGillicutty - November 28, 2011 12:40 p.m.

    Amazing piece of work. You are among the most majestic riders of said "High Horse." Looking forward to more of these.
  • Oblivion2500 - November 27, 2011 6:40 p.m.

    I agree. I think everyone should try each system and actually use them for like a few months than just a day or not at all. It just like how people who never tried a mac and they like PC's and they make stupid comments like "ha ha you can't play games! Mac sucks!"....Interesting...
  • Beoftw - November 27, 2011 7:57 p.m.

    Maybe because you "CAN'T" play games on a mac unless you are running WINDOWS bootcamp. Hurr durr, don't get me started on the out dated gpu's. Those hunks of junk that come with that won't handle top tier games to begin with.
  • fuglybuddy - November 28, 2011 8:29 a.m.

    Ahem... You CAN play games on a mac. The mac app store has plenty of games and you can buy game from steam. My macbook works just perfect with portal2, Civ5, modern warfare, splinter cell conviction. Top tier games to me. Obviously you can't turn on all the bells n whistles you could if you had a proper desktop PC with a decent graphics card. But it looks on par with 360 and PS3 image quality. Unless you get a dedicated gaming laptop you can't compete with that. I'm not a mac fanboy, as I have a 360 and a gaming PC. I'm just tired of people spewing rubbish about subjects they know nothing about.
  • Beoftw - January 27, 2012 1:48 a.m.

    If you consider potal 2 and call of duty to be "top tier games" and you own a gaming rig you should just throw it away. When you bring me a mac that can handle games like crysis and the witcher 2 on ultra without burning a hole in your motherboard I will take back my opinions on apple computers. On a side note, if that day ever does come I will bet you one of my legs that it will cost at LEAST 3 times the average market cost of the parts themselves. If you even doubt that for a second just go look how much apple charges for ram and harddrive upgrades.
  • Yeager1122 - November 27, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    Peolpe should always try other systems its just better that way.
  • Ilyere - November 27, 2011 1:40 p.m.

    Absolutely true. Console wars make no sense at all. On another note, I love these columns. Keep them coming. :)
  • reach110 - November 27, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    It would be easy for some a-hole to read this and see it as a rant from a casual gamer who got pissed off by a twelve-year-old whose parents use Call of Duty's multiplayer as an excuse for a babysitter. This, of course, would only prove your excellently-worded and beautifully thought-out point. I'm quite happy about this article.
  • DecoyOctorok - November 27, 2011 11:47 a.m.

    Good article David. This is exactly why I stopped browsing 4chan.
  • augdog - November 27, 2011 10:37 a.m.

    Interesting.
  • BaraChat - November 27, 2011 5:54 a.m.

    Great, great piece David, I've been getting fed up with endless and pointless arguments on "Console/System Wars" forums on that "other website" for those exact reasons you pointed out (way more skillfully than I ever did, frankly). I'm glad a journalist/expert on the matter voices his opinion out loud like you're doing, it can only be good for us gamers. I'm taking my hat off to you, and I thank you for fighting the good fight. (I'm linking this genius article to my blog and to my forum sig on other websites as well)
  • Jagri - November 27, 2011 4:36 a.m.

    "Know this: For all of your adoring loyalty to a game developer or publisher, for all of the special relationship you think you enjoy, for all the support that you think you owe them for all of the good times they’ve provided you over the years, most big game companies do not know or care who you are. They like your money though, so cheers for all of that. Not to mention the years of free advertising and propaganda." This statement would hold true even if the subject matter wasn't about gaming. Sports teams, cigarette companies, car companies, gun manufacturers, etc. It isn't I would hope that people believe they owe such companies their support but they support them cause they are able to provide a better if not more reliable product. Is it really crazy for "Fanboys" to support their consoles when there is people out there who would argue who makes a better cigarette? If someone is cheering for their favorite sports team would it interest them to know that sports team don't care about them and that their favorite players just want their money? Of course not but for same reason supporting a sports team give them bragging rights when they win. In your face Ravens! I could tell you all now more people die in sports riots then console flame wars so what really is more insane here?
  • shawksta - November 26, 2011 5:24 p.m.

    Agreed. See, things like this is why im a Multigamer, Sure Im a Nintendo fan at heart but im still playing OTHER Games on other systems and not being judgemental because of what they are.
  • johno_kush - November 26, 2011 11:30 p.m.

    amen to that brother, every console (or PC) has something to offer so instead of coming up with pointless argument stating why your platform is better, try em all. broaden your goddamn horizons.
  • fuglybuddy - November 28, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    +1 to that. Excellent point. A major reason for people not doing this is money. Not everyone can afford to pay for a richer experience by having multiple platforms. They buy into 1 platform and they're stuck with it. When you spend all of your limited money on a system and people start slating it, you will defend yourself so you don't feel like a chump for buying into the wrong thing. It's the wrong attitude to have but I know many people that do this. I'm just in a lucky position where I can try a bit of everything.

Showing 1-20 of 85 comments

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