Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Almighty Comment Section

I’ve been noticing it for a while and I feel it’s time to stare the elephant in the room eye to eye. The comment section in articles has devolved into fanboi-r-us. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, maybe it was over the course of years or decades but the internet seems to made us all rather over muscled. When I went to college we used to say that when a person had enough alcohol in themselves they thought they were invincible, they had drunk muscles. These days it seems the internet serves the same function. Which isn’t to say gamers are the only ones guilty of this breach of manners; but its self-evident to any that frequents gaming sites that discussions of any kind on a non-moderated forum is impossible. And I suppose that speaks about something of us as a race, possibly there is something good in all of that, but the hard cold reality is that hardcore gamers have turned to rather virulent speak to hammer whatever point they seek to champion these days. If that wasn’t enough it has become alarmingly obvious that gamers aren’t even thinking enough to bring forth their own opinions. Time and time again I’ve read comments that not only are erroneous but it’s quite obvious that the person writing them has cribbed them either in part of entirely from other sources; which is to say gamers aren’t even speaking for themselves.

A friend reminded me of the scene from Good Will Hunting when the facetious grad student is parroting straight from books he’s read or studied and Matt Damon’s character calls him out on it, in this at least the student is knowingly plagiarizing another person’s work as his own, often times gamers seem completely unaware of their own deeds. I was skimming through a discussion about Tera and Guild Wars 2, the discussion was pro-GW2 and as such was basically preaching to the choir as the forum was for Guild Wars 2 fans. While both games are seeking to change how we play MMOs, it’s clear to anyone who watches five minutes of combat that Tera is the clear winner. The person had to concede that if only as a token to the other side but at the same time tried to shunt the conversation away from that point through misinformation and obfuscation. What there was, however, was the air of familiarity in the arguments, things I had read before.

Sometimes though, the conversation devolves into the nerd rage category. This usually involves a company once loved when it was smaller and more niche, who has become successful and much larger. Blizzard and its Diablo III game is a prime example. Last year Blizzard announced that it would have RMT (Real Money Transactions), basically using items from the game and buying and selling them using real money, as a part of its game which quickly prompted an outcry from gamers who accused Blizzard of any number of grievances without any justification or proof, as if shouting the loudest is the key to winning every argument. The same thing happened when Blizzard announced it was combating piracy and cheating, skeptics rose in force denouncing their methods as pointless as if the rise of intellectual piracy worldwide is a myth.

Voltaire once said that common sense is not all that common. Perhaps the same can be said of manners and common decency, but either way change must come will come one way or another. We are gamers, one and all, it defines us, but most importantly it unites us. One only has to take a look around in the world to see what happens when common sense gets tossed out of the window in the name of winning the argument no matter the cost. That we would have differing opinions is unsurprising but we cannot allow that to blind us to the fact that we are the same, just as one does not cut off the nose to spite the face so to do we need to tone down the rhetoric and keep a little peace. To have differing opinions is fine, even good, but are the same let us not forget what binds us together.

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