The gaming community can at times be a vindictive place to frequent. It’s a culture fraught with misogynistic taunting, racial intolerance, juvenile profanities and brazen discriminatory behaviour that people wouldn’t dare express if not for the intervening shroud of anonymity afforded by the Internet. Half the stuff people say in anger during matches to provoke a reaction is so ignorantly churlish that you can only imagine that it’s done to gain notoriety. That they initiate it deliberately to solicit some morbid sense of popularity that helps them standout from their peers, even if it is out of pure curiosity. And it works, we certainly are fascinated by the extreme views and opinions that are either congenial or wholly offensive to our own. I mean the USA elected Donald Trump, who couldn’t have been more divisive to be their next president, so it’s clearly an effective way of seeking the attention of others. Some people feel justified in causing division if the result is adjusting the spotlight to illuminate themselves. But I’ve always found the way people are profiled during online games rather obtuse. More often than not discrimination is concerned with the colour of one’s skin, the deity you pray too, the genitalia you were born with, the way in which you “choose” to engage more explicitly with people who share the same genital afflictions are the things most typically reprimanded. That appears to be the full extent of their imaginations; very generalised definitions. It’s this limited capacity that I always found curiously captivating, as well as amusing in its own sordid fashion, like watching a grown man ridiculing the curb for tripping him up. It’s really just confused anger. Lashing out even though you can’t articulate it accurately.
I recall an argument I had with my girlfriend a few years ago. It was petty – as they often are – argumentative – on my part at least – with money being the primary instigator of this particular disagreement – as it so often is. I don’t remember the specifics of the heated exchange save one humiliating detail; me retorting to one of her numerable and justified concerns by demanding that she “F**k off……Frodo!” which she complied with, though more out of confusion than intimidation I would presume. The “Frodo” insinuation would suggest that my girlfriend was either short, possessed bulbous and extremely hirsute feet or had a penchant for smoking weed. None of those suggestions even remotely apply to her. Not one?! It didn’t make any sense, even with context. I don’t know what conjured up that remark as a suitable insult or why I uttered it with such clarifying certainty. It really was a comment driven by my own inability to direct my frustrations with any accurate intent, as my brain, when properly motivated by an inert aggression doesn’t have the capacity to exude sentences with any clear definition. There’s something inherently primeval about shouting obscenities like some drunken caveman. It’s a primitive instinct, almost simian in nature that belies centuries of perceived evolution that seems to afflict gamers, particularly on multiplayer.
Gaming used to be a very intimate affair. A singular experience only shared in conversation in the playground or during a lunch break. Multiplayer was reserved for weekends or special occasions, provided you had an available friend and additional controller. If not then it was more than acceptable to be by yourself with an assortment of salted goods and sampling a tipple of your preferred libation, screaming and hollowing to your heart’s content. Seriously my neighbours from my time living with my mother still recant with great relish just how loud I was, much to my embarrassment. There’s probably still a copy of Pro Evolution Soccer 5 nestled in shrubbery at the bottom of the garden after I launched it out of my window with furious disgust like a Frisbee! The volatility of aggression can be meditative though, a kind of therapeutic reprieve that manifests as hostility. Sure gnawing on the controller in frustration may come across as a little odd, but it’s an extension of my competitiveness as well as frustration. The trouble is that now it’s not just the neighbouring community that can hear your shrill discourse, but some unfortunate soul across the Atlantic sat in his underpants who only logged on for a quick game. It used to be that if a game isn’t going your way or the difficulty is just too steep then you could simply reduce it. But you can’t ask an opponent to “take it easy” or “give you a chance”, it doesn’t work like that. So you shout, you scream, you holler the name of Jebus and curse the very foundations of civilisation for your ineptitude. Now to you, everyone is a Frodo.
Anger by its very nature is a very potent emotion that requires an expressive outlet to release the beguiling tension. It’s not big and it’s certainly not clever, but sometimes its beyond your control. It’s very difficult to be angry and eloquent. You become linguistically challenged, reduced to vocabularies that never exceed more than two syllables. Whenever I hear someone questioning an oppositions sexuality, condemning an entire continent or making any number ignorant statements, I laugh. I just find it hysterical how Un-evolved we become when angry. It’s not necessarily what people are saying either, but the conviction of the belligerent statement. You just can’t take any of it seriously. Sometimes it’s not even coherent! It’s either spoken to gain a reaction or because of the limited resources provided by the hostile brain. In fairness most of these kind of racist remarks aren’t frequent, at least not from what I’ve experienced. But it’s a culture of abusive scrutiny levelled at proposed inferiority, and as such there’s a verbal requirement to ridicule and chastise the opposition. It’s not always intended to be inherently aggressive, in most instances the verbal jousting that occurs during games is an unspoken agreement, equally complicit in the act of generally masculine exhibitions, which is both functional, cathartic and recognised as the preemptive to the big occasion. For the casual spectator venturing through each game it’s often enthralling, as you hear the juvenile exchanges begin to deteriorate to more fervent protestations of infantile banter, normally reduced to the inevitable disparaging of one’s genitalia, sexuality, race or the subsequent conquest of one another’s mother’s. Trying to assimilate yourself into such a fertile terrain of clandestine grievance is futile, you just have to grin and bear it. Or adopt a method I’ve found most effective; turn your mic off!