Recently Phil Fish! And Marcus Beer! And an explosion of Twitter insanity!
If you haven't heard about this by now, you haven't visited a game site in the past few days. But basically, Phil Fish said a thing, and a gent by the name of The Annoyed Gamer responded on a Gametrailers program by calling Fish a "doo doo head" a "smelly farty butt" and a "smegma encrusted dick penis from hell" or equivalent insults. The blowback that occurred was essentially Phil Fish hitting the proverbial "Retire" button on his metaphorical mission screen, that mission being the creation of Fez 2, also known as "a game I really hoped didn't have a buttfuckingly irritating map that I had to walk all over for hours again before uninstalling it from my Xbox to make room for Deathsmiles 2."
Phil Fish has developed quite the reputation for being the loveable scamp of the gaming world, the internets darling love child, and a Canadian guy who likes to threaten to murder people and gets really mad because reasons. Personally, I've always been a bit torn with Fish; he is interesting, in the same way professional Starcraft 2 player Idra was interesting; a boorish dick who added some flavor to the world by being unabashed in his super aggressive approach to just about everything, but who I found difficult to really dislike. At the same time, saying that he didn't have it coming would be grossly inaccurate; if you can't take the heat of others criticisms, get out of the fire. Philly Steaks biggest problem is that he simply could not stay away from the ol' Twitter account, and personally, I think he got off on being in the spotlight; no matter how negative the attention was.
All that aside, there are a lot of people who didn't instantly jump on the Fish hate bandwagon, and instead are going after Marcus Beer. And I understand that, too. To have a self-proclaimed "Opinionist" spitting vitriol and baiting attacks seems childish and ridiculous. And it is. But the entire "I'm a mad gamer who is mad" persona is a little ridiculous too, and to get away from Fish and Beer for a moment; just what the heck is up with that anyway?
This is an industry that is current priding itself on growth and the penetration of the mainstream market. Many folks who were gamers in the nineties, and were ridiculed and ostracized for their hobbies are now accepted on a level they never were before. And while some aren't too happy with this, I think it's made life a lot easier for the majority. But it's still an industry that is in serious need of true maturation. The sexist attitudes pervasive in the industry, along with the general shit slinging seen on the internet and abroad do nothing but paint gamers to look like a bunch of neck-bearded manchildren. And as a fat, sometimes neckbearded manchild, even I am embarrassed by the behavior of my ilk a lot of the time, and occasionally, don't want to be identified as a gamer at all. It's like going to a fancy dinner party and trying to have a serious, dignified conversation with hosts while the friend you brought along is taking a shit in the corner and stroking himself to the hosts wifes portrait. It can be really ridiculous sometimes.
But worst is not when the general fans, who come from all walks of life and shouldn't really be expected to behave in a certain lock-step way, act like angry babies, but when members of the media, or those who are trying to represent gaming on a more professional level, stoop to this level of fist flailing and aggression. The second I heard the term Annoyed Gamer, and looked up the mans profile to find he had attempted to sum himself up in a few very concise words which are typical of a certain type these days and were indicative of his "so fuckin' what" rock star attitude which is so wholly celebrated and embraced by people who think that 90's frat humor shit like Maddox is still the be all and end all of social commentary and humor, I knew I wouldn't like a majority of what he had to say. Not just because it was pedantic, self-celebrating, narcissistic, and needlessly angsty, but because, seriously; this shit has been done to death already.
I can honestly say I am guilty of the same kind of crap. As a growing writer, I was once upon a time ago convinced that my talent was in my edginess; my ability for quick wit, which I often used as a fully loaded weapon against anything I remotely disliked. It took a very long time to realize that, regardless of that "cutting" attitude, if I wasn't saying anything of value, or saying it in a concise, well-thought out manner, that it didn't matter how "edgy" I was trying to be. In face, it was more often a detriment, because anyone really intelligent who was reading my work would instantly make the observation that I was using aggressive facade in order to cover up my lack of an argument. And they were right to do so.
It's a problem I still face today, being someone who admittedly is not always completely emotionally "on the level." I get my bad days, and when I decide to write and post on them, it's usually a mistake, and I say something I didn't mean, or exaggerate my point to an extreme level that doesn't truly represent who I am, or what my feelings are. You lot have seen it many times, and I'm sure you remember it. But the bottom line is this; we don't need to dive into the morass of negativity every time we want to make a point, and it is in fact, seldom constructed. So to have a bunch of followers and hangers on trying to emulate the more abrasive personalities out there is in my opinion, damaging to to our image. There are a few craftsmen who can utilize the angry thing well, but they truly are few; and even they misstep from time to time. I'm a big fan of Jim Sterling for example, but my opinions of him have fluctuated over time because they have been colored, essentially, by all the people who want to be just like him. And in doing so, they are a cheap fabrication; they miss the core of what he does so well in his critical analysis, and they lack the general levity he keeps close to his work. They come off as being copycats, and have a general assholian slant to the things they do that make me instantly dislike them.
(The original "Angry Gamer", and ironically, one who is anything but in real life...yet his followers cling to his satirical persona as if it were a truth and try to emulate it every step of their short lived vlogging "careers".)
Gamers are pissed off, and the world knows it, and is sick of hearing it. So adopting monikers like "Angry Joe" or "Annoyed Gamer" or whatever is as redundant as it is uncreative. We don't need anymore gamers on the forefront representing us who exist seemingly solely to stir the shit pot, toss out curse words, and call it a day. We need more intelligent folks getting to the bottom of issues, and getting to the core of the people who create new experiences; even the abrasive ones like Fish where it's just so much SIMPLER to call him a "wanker" and call it dinner.
I've praised Jonathan Holmes in the past precisely for that reason; I remember a time when he admitted disliking Jonathan Blow, or at least feeling put off by him. But his constantly cheery demeanor allowed him to eventually have him on Sup Holmes where he honestly told Blow what his feelings about him were; rather than lashing out and saying "fuck that guy is a dick" he opened a dialogue, and ended up having a very illuminating talk with Jonathan that was able to probe a lot deeper than any Twitter criticism ever would. You can see the same thing happen on a lot of forums; some self-styled angry personality goes after someone else, calls them a fucking idiot, or what have you. When the person reacts calmly, and tries to understand where they are coming from without reacting in turn with anger, the results are impressive; usually, the person comes around and admits they were fired up. And in many cases, the more cordial of the two will instantly have a new ally, who was apparently ready to rip his head off two posts earlier.
You get what you give a lot of the time. Sometimes people need a smack, like a bad dog, and a stern "NO" to help them correct their behavior, but a lot more often, an open ear and a willingness to be polite, and patient will get you a lot further. There are people on Destructoid who I really like regardless of their less than peachy demeanor, and it personally saddens me to see them go on acting the way they do; cold, abrasive, and aggressive, because it isn't netting them anything. It alienates them, and although a few patient folks will see through their overbearing nastiness to the core of who they really are, they will invariably end up making a lot more enemies than friends.
Worst of all, they just look childish for doing it. Just like people such as Marcus Beer, who for all I know may actually be very knowledgable and have some pretty smart stuff to say, actually have points against them for being self-admitted cynics and "grr angry" opinionists. I recently unsubscribed to TotalBiscuit, who I otherwise find to be a STELLAR commentator and content creator, simply because of his constant insistence to stoop down to the lowest common denominator, and get right into the shit with his harshest of critics, calling them "idiots" or making otherwise constantly cynical and anti-social posts. He, too, proudly carries the moniker of "The Cynical Brit", probably tongue in cheek considering what a fucking stereotype it is to be British and cynical, but either way not necessarily helping his image among the people who are just fed up with the constant negativity, ranting, and sneering sarcasm so pervasive in games media today.
I just want to see people who don't NEED to act like children, who aren't mentally incapable of rising above that kind of behavior, fall back on it as a standby because they are otherwise not confident enough in their own ability to say something intelligent without the adamantine walls of "anger" to keep them protected from the general rabble. It's getting old, it's bad for the industry, and it's bad for the individuals themselves. Sure, it will gain them a lot of popularity among similarly vapid manchildren who eat up that kind of College frat boy Tucker Maxian horseshit, but seriously; are those really the kinds of people you want on your side?
I'd personally say "no thanks" to that sorry lot of fickle manbabies and shoot for the stars for a better class of audience. And in turn, if we WANT a better class of audience, we need to have more people out there who act as positive role models. Because these personalities ARE influential, as insane as that may sound, and the more negative icons we have sitting in the spotlight, the more people will find it acceptable to be indecent, overly cynical dickwads who never listen to crticism, and pretend that they fart perfume and shit out diamonds.
The reality is far less pretty than that, and is certainly a lot stinkier.