By Kate Cox
When Alyssa graciously invited me to hang out in her space again (thanks!), I happily accepted, and then reached out to some wise friends for topic ideas.
A non-gaming friend who is regular reader of my blog said to me, “I would really love to know your thoughts on gamer culture.”
At the very moment she was writing her message to me, the internet was exploding with the story of one man who was very, very bad at his PR job, one customer who pushed buttons, and one webcomic author who decided vengeance was a tool he enjoyed employing. The Paul Christoforo situation rapidly went from bad to worse and by the next morning, a true mob mentality had taken over in many forums.
There I sat, horrified and depressed. When the entitled mob begins to feel wronged, when the legions of Reddit and the armies of Twitter mobilize… bad things happen. Home addresses get published, threats get made, and lives get ruined. I firmly believe that two wrongs don’t make a right, and siccing hundreds, thousands, or even millions of angry nerds on one bully was surely an uncalled-for thrashing.
Is this disaster, I despaired, what gamer culture really looks like?
But then, a couple of days later, Child’s Play announced their 2011 fundraising total. Child’s Play is a charity that the very same webcomic authors started, back in 2003. The core idea? “Gamers give back.” Players and now publishers come together to donate toys and games to children’s hospitals: the grown-ups are reaching out to kids in need. Every year, these efforts bring in more charity than the year before, to more hospitals nationwide and around the world. And every year, I’ve seen more and more gamers and more and more huge companies leap onboard to do good for others.
2011’s total was over $3.5 million.
That’s more like it. Charity! Giving! Maybe this could be what gamer culture really looks like?
But of course, the reality is neither so bleak nor so noble. I am forced to concede a point. Emily, this is what gamer culture really looks like:
Because the internet is for cats. (Avenue Q notwithstanding.) And because this cat is named Guybrush Ulysses Threepwood Cox (usually called “Cat” or “Damncat”). That’s gamer culture, right there and purring: a permanent, nerdy reference in our house.
It’s like the rest of geek culture, really: mixed good and bad, but enthusiastic and devoted either way.