As many probably know by now, one of the most anticipated games of the year, Red Dead Redemption 2, comes out tomorrow. The early reviews have dropped today, and with the average Metacritic score sitting at a 97, it is on track to become one of the most highly-reviewed games of all time. Ultimately, however, I am not writing this post to talk about the game’s review scores. Instead, I am here to talk about a quote that comes from an EGM review that was retweeted by Metacritic as a promotion for the game’s high reviews. The quote in question reads, “One of the most gorgeous, seamless, rootinest, tootinest games ever made, and if you voluntarily miss out on it, you’re either not a gamer or in a coma.”
Reading this quote was an upsetting experience, to say the least, specifically for the part insinuating that people cannot call themselves “gamers” if they do not want to play Red Dead Redemption 2. This blanket statement is insulting to the gaming community, as it makes us sound like mindless robots, endlessly consuming the exact same video games and sharing identical opinions. The reality is that every gamer is different, and while a game may be objectively phenomenal in every regard, there are still people who will not want to play that specific title, and it doesn’t make them any worse for it. Take my own tastes, for example. I hated Persona 5 and never finished Breath of the Wild because it didn’t hold my interest. On the other hand, Saints Row IV is in my top ten, and I adore Mass Effect Andromeda for the great, though flawed, experience that it is.
Within the community, there’s been a lot of backlash against this comment, but there’s also a more concerning consequence from a quote like this. Games are getting more and more expensive to make, to the point where they are on par with a lot of other forms of media, like creating a movie. The issue is, however, that most every person in modern society watches at least some movies, and this case is not true with gaming. If the community wants games to continue to improve, and we want those improvements without games being priced at double what they are today, then we need more bodies in the industry. Now, think about what this quote says to someone that is considering making that leap of faith into the gaming industry. It doesn’t speak well to the community and may very well scare potential gamers off, worrying that they aren’t hardcore enough to handle a game like this, or that they don’t want to participate in a community that judges them for their tastes.
For as horrifying as this comment is for many gamers, the scary truth is that this is nowhere near an isolated event. I know that I’m guilty of occasionally staring at my husband like he grew a second head when he tells me he doesn’t like a game that I adore. Conversely, I vividly remember that there are games I played through the entirety of, hating every minute along the way, just because someone I knew told me that I wasn’t a real gamer unless I had played them. Gamers are incredibly loyal to their favorite games, and while that’s a great sign of a healthy industry, it can cause toxicity when arguments start up about whose opinion is objectively correct. This inability to accept that people have different opinions regarding video games needs to stop, as in addition to wreaking havoc within the gaming community, it is stalling growth by preventing new gamers from joining.
I want to close this piece by stressing that I have so many great experiences from the gaming community. There are a ton of people, both in real life and online, that I have had wonderful debates and discussions with that don’t include an ounce of hostility. Therefore, I am by no means generalizing that “all gamers are evil”, as I know that is not the case. Still, quotes like this one from EGM and discussions I have had over the years with less than pleasant people show that this community still has a long way to go. Everyone who is reading this post should feel inspired to be the change the community needs. Reach out to people who are considering joining us gamers and make them want to stay. Don’t attack people because they don’t like or have no interest in a certain game. Together, we can make the community a better place.
Do you have any experiences with toxicity in the gaming community? Let me know in the comments below!