Well, it wasn't long before I got to this; the one word that nobody wants to hear, the word that sends people gasping at its mere mention, gets people boiling faster than a volcano and sends droves of furious gamers to bashing on their keyboards.
Yes, you guessed it, that word is none other than "criticism"!
... The other C word? what other C word?
Anyways, a lot has been said about the need for games, as both an industry AND a community, to grow up, but to me, regardless of whether people believe the games to be "grown up" or not, it seems many people are not fully aware of what it does mean to be "grown up".
Now I'm not going to stand here on my soapbox and pretend that I'm better than everyone because I'm
the one who knows what it means to be grown up (I'm not nearly as awesome as Jim Sterling, for one), but I like to believe that I have at least an inkling of one aspect of being grown up, and yes, you've probably guessed it:
Being grown up means being willing to take criticism.
Uh oh, I think someone criticized the beard...
You see, one aspect of growing up is learning that not everyone is going to agree with you; when you're a child your parents are always there to help you ease into what rejection and disagreements might entail (ideally, at least), but when you step out into the real world on your own, you have to learn to perform that function all by yourself, and that means being able to take the criticisms, disagreements and rejections of others, and after considering them, deciding on whether they should apply what they were given or disregard it.
You see, I think of gaming as something that as just started to take its first steps to growing up, only recently did we get the chance to breathe easily, not afraid of the specter of judgement and the almighty ban-hammer of the legal system that were literally threatening the mere existence of the medium, that was a point in time that we did
need to defensively react to every politician and judge who dared to even give a crooked stare in the direction of gaming.
Oh don't worry, your honor, we all like you!
Now, on the other hand, we're faced with an even bigger task; to make sure that our child, gaming as we know it, can grow up to be an upstanding part of society, we need to raise it and shape it into something we can all be proud of, and we need to start by learning to take criticism.
But what does that even mean?
I hear you asking.
We need to stop getting upset over every game that doesn't get all the praise in the world, or over games that do.
We need to stop and consider whether or not something in a game IS racist, or sexist, or inhumane, and then stop and consider if it SHOULD be one of those things, and if those things will deliver a better message in a game, or just make the developers seem as those things.
We as members of the gaming community need to decide for ourselves whether or not games are art, not get hung up on the people still outside it who say it isn't, just accept, give your opinion, and move on.
We need to learn how to get along, you like FPSes? I prefer RPGs, but we're still cool, just like how I'm cool with this dude who likes western RPGs even though I prefer the Japanese ones.
And I know this one is a bit hard to swallow, but we need to accept crowds that don't feel like a part of the gaming community to us like the casual gamers, and actually try to show them what a wonderful world gaming can offer beyond what they're playing. (I'm making some progress with MY mother, how about you?)
It doesn't help us when our reaction is to flail madly and rant about how we DO deserve respect when we're not willing to show that we actually do, we're not really deserving of the great power if we're not willing to embrace the great responsibility, not just so that the people outside will accept us, but also because otherwise, this community might end up as the equivalent of this:
Dear god, I do NOT want that to happen...
So in the end, I may not like the game that you like, but that's cool by me, and hopefuly, it's cool by you to.