Something that I have failed to believe is capable of dividing a culture is the hobby that which the culture as a whole enjoys. One would assume that if a whole culture enjoys a good game or great graphics that whichever console or genre they enjoy would be beside the fact. Taking an article by Jamie Madigan, people have a tendency to construct identities based on group memberships. So, if your part of the Xbox group you communicate that to others and define yourself as a member of the group. However, some go further than that and are perfectly willing to attack PlayStation owners in order to raise their own status.
As social creatures, we are made anxious by our separateness. [Escape, Fromm] This is made evident by our willingness to identify with a group and start social warfare amongst other groups. Even when we are online, we are playing alone together. The conformity drives our willingness to partake in a social-isolation experience where we are together in a virtual special atmosphere. The question then is why does it stop at the immediate console level? Why does it not go further under the umbrella of ‘gamers’ that we become willing to train each other, play with each other, and befriend one another?
It starts with preserving one’s integrity. “If one lacks the courage to be an individual, they will never achieve love since love is the union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity.” [Love, Fromm] When Fromm means love, he ultimately means compassion. Within the gaming culture, compassion is a critically lacking component that continues to divide groups of gamers that have the same passion, motivation, and drive towards video games.
How is this possible? Why should I bother? Take this jen ratio test. Play any online game and simply watch closely for a fixed amount of time. For posterity, let’s say one hour. Track two different totals: how many times people act friendly or kind and how many times people act rude or unfriendly. Make sure to take note of all positive and negative microtransaction of ‘good job’, sarcastic comments, curses, and praise. Tally them up with positive microtransaction divided by negative microtransaction. According to Dacher Keltner, the closer to 0 the number is the unhappier you will become over time in that atmosphere.[McGonigal, 84] The jen ratio is a simple yet powerful way to predict what will make us happy or unhappy. Our social well-being within our social spaces are in jeopardy because we are creating spaces for negativity to foster and perverse our outlook on our culture. Kind gestures are considered out of place within the gaming community. One needs to be a tough curse-spitting machine that demeans and trash-talks others to be cool. Or we must shun the novice gamer by calling them fakes to better our status in the grand spectrum of our group.
The gaming community is suffering from a psychological warfare or crisis if one can say. We are all striving to be culturally valuable by taking away others’ integrity even if the other person is no different than ourselves. Why not instead give what the other is striving to obtain which is praise, recognition, and acceptance? Would that not save time and create a more positive gaming culture? Would that not end the craving of the gamers seeking such attention in the wrong manner? We can hold off on those asking for the wrong type of attention, but what are some things you believe can help make the gaming culture be a much more compassionate culture?
- Erich Fromm. Escape from Freedom. Holt Paperbacks, 1941.
- Erich Fromm. The Art of Living. HarperCollins, 1956.
- Jamie Madigan. How Social Identity Theory Predicted the Console War of ’07. January, 11, 2010. http://www.psychologyofgames.com
- Jane McGonigal Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Penguin Books, 2011.
Narz is CEO/ Founder at Girl Gamer Vogue and Video Game Columnist at KnickerBocker Ledger.