How videogames could learn more from heavy metal

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[Xeo has had experiences that have led him to believe the metal community could teach a thing or two about community to video games, especially when compared to the current state of affairs. Do you think Xeo just knows a great local community? Or do you believe no community is immune to some hot, burning discourse? ~Striderhoang]

I have three passions in life: heavy metal, video games, and women (tits). We’ll talk about two of those today, the ones without a vagina to be specific. Seriously though, I spend a large portion of my free time playing video games, I look forward to new game releases and I even base some of my life’s decisions around videogames, But believe it or not they’re not my favorite hobby.

I grew up in a house that loved classic rock and heavy metal. Growing up on bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dokken, Scorpions, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Dio, etc. As I grew older into my teens I began to discover the heavier side of metal and found myself absolutely absorbed into its world. I frequented concerts at a local club in high school where I was introduced to bands like Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, Nile, Dark Tranquillity, or Strapping Young Lad. At one of those shows I fell absolutely head over heels for a Swedish band mentioned above, Dark Tranquillity, whom later opened my eyes to bands like At the Gates, In Flames (they used to actually be metal, I swear), and Children of Bodom and then later one of my all-time favorite bands, Insomnium.

(MMMMMM, Insomnium.)

Pursuing these bands I found myself wrapped in a culture that was so very unlike my other serious hobby, gaming. Whereas in gaming there are constant arguments, bickering and rivalries, going all the way back to my childhood days on the playground of the old SNES vs. Genesis arguments. When I’d go to a concert though, everyone there was so excited and pumped to be there and everyone was happy. We were all there for the same reason and it was like a brother/sisterhood. More on this to come.

Some years later going into adulthood I discovered my love for the golden age of death metal like Morbid Angel, Obituary, Death, etc. as well as a vast love for thrash metal that I didn’t realize I already had but just didn’t know how to classify it. Then I discovered Chuck Schuldiner, unfortunately too late, as he’d passed away from a brain tumor not too long before this. Chuck changed my life. I picked up a guitar previously due to my love of metal, but Chuck was the guy who made me want to actually learn to play it well. 

(Classic Morbid Angel!)

Regardless though, I live a double life. I’m heavily into video games and at the same time have an insatiable appetite for heavy metal music. And yet when one side finds out about the other, it’s usually met with “You’re into that?” More so from the video game side. It’s comical really.

Yes, I’m a nerd at heart through and through. I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons, I geek out over most video games that get released, and I collect action figures. But yes I’m also into a far more brutal scene, the metal scene. I frequent concerts, getting beer spilled on me in mosh pits, losing my hearing for a few days at a time and feel like I got run over by a semi for a day or two afterwards.

But I’ll now go back to that atmosphere of a concert. I’ve never been to a single metal concert where I felt out of place or that I didn’t belong. There are people of all ages there: kids, parents, middle-aged women, old people, gray haired bikers, and young teens too. No one gives a fuck, no one. We’re all there for the same reason and you’re not judged but automatically accepted. Conversations start based on the band on your t-shirt and you make new friends, share some stories and laughs and always walk away feeling satisfied and smiling. 

This is not the common reaction or even expectation when going to a group of gamers loaded into an event. You can absolutely still have some good times and meet some good people. But gaming as a community, generally speaking is divided and openly no less. You’ll have arguments, civil and friendly or otherwise between console fanboys, you’ll have people slamming your favorite game because it’s not enough like theirs. Now, don’t get me wrong, these types of things exist in the metal world too, but it’s not so unashamedly open about it. 

I’ve met many people who don’t like some of my musical tastes at concerts, but they don’t care, they just carry on about whatever band you happen to be seeing at the time. It’s not held against you. It’s like “Hey, I don’t like that band at all, but we’re both here to see this band and that’s cool as fuck and I respect you for that! Let’s have a great night!” I suppose maybe because heavy metal is more of a niche than video gaming, but all the same I can recall growing up when gaming used to be in a similar boat and you were considered a nerd to love video games. Back then being a nerd wasn’t a glamorous thing but was a title of ridicule.

All the same though, I feel that anytime I get into a discussion with gamers, There’s always tso much hateful bickering and insults being thrown around. It just leaves me shaking my head. I go to a concert, even one with a dozen bands playing and everyone is happy, smiling, laughing, telling stories and just having a great time. I can sit at a table with some random dudes and shoot the shit with them for hours without an insult being thrown. (I’m going to go ahead and assume this isn’t just because I have my wife with me who’s rather well endowed).

We need more of that in this hobby too. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have a great time talking about games with random strangers and not have arguments breaking out around every other corner?

(We’ll close with this. One of my absolute favorite songs that sums up pretty much everything I love about metal in general.)

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