It’s gloomy day in Montreal this Saturday. I don’t have anything that special lined up but I know that in the back of my mind that the easy thing for me to do would simply be to go about my ordinary routine. So today I'm going to write a blog. In truth, I have about three other blogs I’ve been working on but I’ve been having a difficult time finding the right language for them, as I don’t want to lose my job. It won't be those ones, but I'll try to move this one in a different direction so I can put something out here.
As some of you might remember from last year, I made a point to leave the aviation industry. It was a very high stress industry that demanded plenty of hours to be worked and where the extra money that would made from the airport would eventually be spent on simply coping with that job. It wasn’t healthy.
That being said, ever since joining the video game industry, after being let go from aviation, I’ve had the benefit of looking at some of the aspects of this particular field and reflecting on them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the most interesting part of the industry but I think it’s worth mentioning.
For this blog, I just wanted to take a moment and talk about personal relationships with different types of people and the social constructs that are established in our society.
Yesterday, I was quickly reading a personal blog someone had written about the culture of being a ‘Furry’. I made a point to read that blog because it made me a touch uncomfortable, admittedly. For some reason, I think I may have some sort of discomfort about these people. I think it stems from some sort of unfamiliarity with these sorts of people. When I examine the culture a little bit, in the back of my mind there's a part of me that is a bit concerned that their behavior is a reaction to coping with some sort of social anxiety, and I’m not sure it can be healthy. Not that the community cares what I think anyway.
But when thinking about the topic of how people convey themself to those around them, I can't help but feel that sometimes gamers are dismissed in society for a similar, less obvious, reasoning. The fact of the matter is that hardcore gamers are often reclusive people, and they often possess varying degrees of learned civility that I don’t think we give enough credit to.
This is why I think that gamers are some of the most tolerant people when it comes to unusual behavior or unusual beliefs, because they sometimes find themselves on both sides of the equation. I personally don’t have a problem with anyone who identify as pretty much anything. As a matter of fact, my closest friend at work is actually a lesbian.
But even with all this tolerance being thrown around the gaming community, when it comes to face-to-face interaction ‘social capability’ is still the number one basis for dismissing someone or accepting them; Gamers in the industry appear to be on a mission to prove that their quirkiness is more acceptable than another gamers.
It should surprise nobody on this website that from my experience, a majority of the people who work in the video game industry, or those consider them self largely involved with it, generally have behavioral issues and mannerisms that are basically nervous reactions to social settings they are simply unfamiliar with. To this day I can't confirm whether or not this could be because of the conditioning of extensively playing video games with little interaction to the outside world, or if it's something more in the nature of a person. I'm tempted to the lean to the former but I am confident that both apply in different measures.
I can only speak from my own experience to say that it appears that there is some sort of unwritten rule of etiquette and hierarchy among gamers. I can totally sense that we're all guilty of past social inadequacy, especially myself. It's almost as if certain classes of gamers are in a race to a certain perceived diversity or perceived maturity for fear of being labeled a gamer.
I find it a very hard time to explain because I'm not sure if I'm fully equipped with the language to give the dynamics of what I'm talking about justice. But throughout my whole life, among people who are outside the core-gaming culture, video games have always been considered a joke. It’s probably because video games are inherently categorized as recreational and signals a lack of responsibility to the unfamiliar. When you think about it though, most video games are about 6-10 hours minimum. When you consider that someone could sit and watch TV for hours on end without many other interests beyond that, you can begin to understand what this picture looks like to the untrained eye. You take these intrinsic aspects about video games and you combine it with some odd quirky behavior and you have a formula for a situation where somebody might call you a child.
Make no mistake, I know what side I’m on, and I’m a gamer until the day I die. But I don't believe that these remarks are as superficial as it might appear at first. No doubt that there’s a part of me where I wish I can just simply look at somebody who was playing a video game, and respect the totality of that person regardless of their behavioral issues. When I was younger I would instantly become friends with pretty much anyone who was willing to talk about video games. As relationships and expectations started to become more complex, we subconsciously demand more of the people communicate with. Regrettably, it’s hard to speak with someone who has the knowledge of a 35 year old with the social skills of a 15 year old. Whether their behavior is derived from the culture they've been isolated to, or the inherent mental disorders they might have had at birth, I know, and they know, and everybody knows that no one cares.
It's not because people don't have empathy though, please don't misunderstand me. I know I'm not doing a good job of explaining myself very well, but throughout my life I have always been dealt hard lessons about social standards, and I have personally come out of situations that are very hard to describe without the ability to articulate them effectively for others to intervene. It used to make me so angry how people would look at me or misunderstand what I was trying to tell them, but at some point I had to realize that I’m partially responsible for my own inadequacy at explaining to people who use a different set of language than I do. Remember, ultimately you’re asking for their time and attention.
I’ve had many gamers explain to me that they don’t really care what people think of them. Sure, on the surface of that statement it can strike you as ‘a person who has confidence in themselves’, but while it might be true to some extent, this attitude should be applied more to personal beliefs more than anything though. More often than not it's more of a declaration that a person is not willing to change because it speaks to the betterment of how other people view them. In my opinion, it becomes a slippery slope when you ask for the cooperation and communication of other people in your immediate settings, and you don't have a sense of what words mean to people that don't have context for them outside of your gamer circle.
For example, when I was working at the airport and I was floating around the idea of leaving the airline industry for the video game industry, I remember my boss at the time saying something like the following, “You want to work in video games? Do you mean like Nintendo Xbox or something?"
I then said, "Ultimately, I have to be honest; I don't even like airplanes or pretty much anything about this travel industry to begin with. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I'm 29 years old now and I don't want to be stuck in a career path that I'm not happy to be a part of it anymore."
This was taking place at a bar close to my apartment complex. We had just finished our work for that night and we had been drinking quite a bit at this point.
My lawyer friend was also there overhearing the conversation between my boss and I. He then interjected and said to me, "Bro if you worked in that industry it's not going to challenge you, and if you don't grow, you're wasting your time. Besides there's a bunch of Chinese people already there doing your games job."
What?" I said confused.
"Bro all those videogames are made by Chinese people"
"You mean Japanese people?"
Another wrong statement really but I didn't press him further. What's the use? With that my boss puts his hand on my friend's shoulder and then says. "Look Chris I don't know what you're talking about buddy but video games for kids. As a matter fact I bought a PlayStation for not long ago sold the damn thing. I'm thinking, what am I going to have the time to play something like this?"
I then said, "I don't think I would be playing video games all day I just want to be working with people in the industry who also respect video games."
He then starts laughing and starts patting my friends back, "Bradshaw you have Mr. lawyer over here thinking of starting up his own cargo operation for the airport, doing all kinds of shit and there you are making video games or some shit- wasting time."
" Yeah with Chinese people…" I joked taking another swig of beer.
Ultimately in the end in 2017, it was my top priority to get into the video game industry. It didn't make a difference what these people said to me because I held gaming at such high a personal belief where the opinion of others didn’t matter. So I can understand how people say "who cares what other people think.” I’m just trying to highlight more than anything else is my lack of effectiveness when communicating video games to people who don’t give a damn to know about them. Presently, social norms have a total misunderstanding of what our culture happens to be. I've heard people say that this is a generational thing but I really do believe that it's more than that. I think having a willingness to understand the impact of what certain words mean to different groups of people is useful when it comes to working with people, and I don't think that it's a topic that's held in very high regard in our flock.
But I can give you at yet another example more close to home.
Two years ago, I started to become more active on Destructiod. When I first started writing again on this website my blogs were very aggressive and presumptuous (more frequent though). I still think there are some useful or interesting topics I was writing about. But at some point I had to take a piece of my own advice and not continue in ways that were unattractive to the very people I wanted to communicate with.
And as much as I wanted to hold the principle of not caring what anyone else thought, ultimately I'm asking for the attention of others so I couldn't allow my excessive language to take away from the overall point I was trying to make. It's only in hindsight where I think that if I had not been so combative and argumentative or aggressive, I would've at least had been exposed to more feedback and original ideas from people who circumstantially dismissed me. Ultimately I was only using language like that because it was easy for me.
In our industry I see a trend of gamers who hold very dear to their persona and methods of communication. They use defense mechanisms which suggest to the untrained ear that the person, communicating with language used on Twitch, is immature or narrow-minded.
What's worse is that the trained ear can hear a part of themselves they feel like they’ve outgrown in some regard. The more I look at this particular aspect of gaming culture; I start to think that the gaming community is a community battling with a collective social challenge, for the most part.
I’m sure that I was the most cringe worthy person at some point in time. I think I might still be sometimes. The more I get to know the people I’ve come to work with in video games, the more I get to hear the stupid shit we used to say for effect. Nine times out of ten you’ll get to hear how they used to think like a gamer, but they’re better now.
It’s not that being a gamer is the issue though, but they’re legitimately proud of the growth they’ve made socially. As this personal skill set develops, they simply don’t have the patience for people who are committed to being ‘nerds’ for the sake of being nerdy and quirky. (Keep in mind that I think it has more to do with attitude than interests themselves.)
In this dynamic of multiple gamers at different social levels, I start to notice aspects of that discussion had the that bar with my airline associates two years ago. It’s simply a fact that at work I’ve given 'looks' signaling some sort of inside joke at my close friends and co-workers whenever some chosen one has to prove how smart they are, teach the developers about good games, or says loaded statements about the video game industry. All with a ‘feelsbadman’ or some meme from two years ago.
Like I said before, some gamers probably have a lot of insight into the subject matter, but they don't have the right rhetoric or approach to convey what they want to say.
As I finish up this blog, I can see the irony in it. I have a sinking feeling that my technique in communicating this point probably isn't strong enough to convey what I want overhere. It's an other example of my inadequecy in this regard, but I try to be better everyday and I don't think that should be looked upon as illegitamate.
I thought I'd share the observation. Have a good weekend!