2014 has been an interesting year for me as a gaming enthusiast: I bought a Ps4 I never use, I got in to Skylanders and deeply regret that choice from a financial stand point, I purchased an Ubisoft published game for the first time ever, and my Vita probably got more use than all my other consoles put together. But, sadly, what will be the most lasting impression 2014 has left on me is that my hobby was so blatantly politicized by people who, frankly, seek to exploit, profiteer, and ultimately destroy the hobby and the culture, before moving on like locusts to their next unwitting feeding ground (It's going to be metal music from the looks of things).
As the locusts have started to greedily gnaw away at what I love, I've learned a lot of new words this year, "cis", "ablist", "misandry" just to name a few. But, I've also relearned a lot of words. Words I thought I knew the meaning of, but apparently I was very wrong about them, especially in the context of the gaming industry and culture. So let's look at one.
: covering or including everything
: open to everyone : not limited to certain people
: including the stated limits and everything in between
This was a word I was quite fond of, especially the second definition. To me, it meant accepting people, even if they're a different race, sex, gender or share different believes and values. I am an awkward person and growing up it was hard to find people to accept me, a gay, female, game-playing semi-atheist, in an isolated, very right-leaning part of a state where the first days of deer and fishing seasons the schools actually closed like they were national holidays. I didn't get to stay home when FF7 launched, that's for sure. So when I did meet people who accepted me, it was often other social outcasts; a feeling I imagine many of us are familiar with. People wildly different from not only the norm, but from each other, and other than minor disagreements, those differences were not held against one and other. Almost anyone was accepted because we knew what it was like to not be accepted, to not be included.
Gaming is, at large, an inclusive hobby. It was something anyone could do if they so wanted. They may not be good at it, as I generally am not atleast when a game becomes more demanding of twitch skills, but there really was something for anyone and everyone. And while I still believe gaming is for everyone who wants to take part, last year "Inclusive" started to mean "It's for everyone, except you, unless you conform to what we believe and donate to my patreon." That's not being inclusive, in fact it's being the exact opposite.
Gaming is an artistic medium, everything has a right to exist, everyone has a right to appreciate and enjoy it. It IS inclusive, your personal dislike of the most popular AAA games does not mean the medium, the hobby, or the culture are exclusionary. There's a lot of games I don't like, but I don't demand they be changed, censored, or even outright banned because of their content. Everything from COD:AW to Peggle, from Depression Quest to the Bible Black games not only should exist, but they need to, so everyone can find something they love. That's what makes this hobby so inclusive: the bros, the hipsters, the moms, and the unapologetic pervs can all share something, even in a very superficial level. There's something for everyone and all are welcome. Despite the campaign, "Gamers" aren't dead because we are all gamers now, gaming has opened its arms to us all and we need to start respecting each other a whole hell of a lot more, not trying to bully and scare and shame the people who enjoy an attractive female form and/or violence more than you.
Of course, sadly, as I mentioned at the start, some people don't really want to be included, they want to profit from a manufactured social outrage in very passionate, thus very easily manipulated, culture before moving on and never looking back at the damage they've done because they do not care. No matter how many strong, gay, transgender, furry, wheel-chair bound, half-black-half-Asians we have in gaming, they're going to find something to be offended about, because being a professional victim is big money with minimal effort for a few people, and much like making Pewds money on Youtube, for a few years, everyone's going to try their hat at it. My hope for 2015 is that "Gamers" learn to support each other more, to regain that "everyone is welcome" mentality that yellow journalism and fake outrage have worked to strip away, and support those who seek to harm what we love less.
Happy New Year everyone, lets do this one better.
Writer's note: My initial plan for this piece was to examine some of the words that have been bastardized this year, but to get out everything I wanted to say about inclusiveness I ran kind of long. I think through January I'll ramble up a few more "word" blogs.