This site might be called “Shouts From the Couch,” but I haven’t truly been angry, like shouting-level angry, in a long time. I might get ornery from time to time, but I’m in my mid-30s, and being ornery sorta comes with the territory. But the essential point I’m driving towards is that at this point in my life, I feel like I shouldn’t have to put up with the stuff that annoys me, and so I don’t. If this means that I’m missing out on something important, then so be it; it’s my life, and I’d rather spend my time (and my money) on stuff that doesn’t drive me crazy.
This is partly why I don’t do a lot of online multiplayer – or, rather, why I don’t go online with people that I don’t know. I’m a lot more competitive than I care to admit, and I hate losing; that’s on me. But some 13-year-old kid calling me a faggot because he shot me in the face with a shotgun before I could shoot him in the face with a shotgun – that’s on him, and it makes my blood pressure boil just thinking about it. This is also why I tend to stay out of comment sections on gaming websites; there can be – not all the time, of course, but it happens enough – there can be a level of ignorance and casual racism/sexism/hate-ism found there that simply can’t be ignored unless you stay away from it altogether.
And what pisses me off about this the most is that it’s this particular level of bullshit that tends to define the community as a whole. None of my friends do this; none of my favorite writers do this; the gaming sites I visit crack down on this as much as they can. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how much money the Child’s Play charity raises; it just takes one homophobic, racist asshole in a Halo match or a comment section to spoil the party for everyone.
And if I seem to be taking this a little personally, well, it’s because it is personal. I happen to have a very good friend who inadvertently blew up the internet a little bit yesterday, and it wasn’t even her fault. All she was doing was giving a video review on L.A. Noire for Gamespot. It’s a well-written, informative review, and she did an excellent job translating the written word into the video review. There’s no controversy in that, right? The fact that she’s transgender is totally incidental and has nothing to do with anything, except that a bunch of idiots kept writing ignorant and hateful and totally stupid comments, and that’s the part of the story that took on a life of its own and ended up on Kotaku.
She is a much better writer than I, and she has her own response to the story here.
Hate is hate, and ignorance is ignorance. She did not choose to become transgender; nobody chooses that, in the same way that nobody chooses to be gay or straight or black or white. You are what you are. And considering how much bullshit she’s had to put up with even before she became a professional games writer – I mean, nobody in their right mind would choose to live a life that invited such ignorance and hatred. I don’t want to speak for her, but it seems to me that all she wants to do is to be happy and live the life that she wants to live. She’s not inviting anything. That doesn’t require anything from anybody else. The people that were offended by her video review – that’s on them. That’s their problem. And while a great deal of the GS community rushed to her defense and shut those assholes up, it still reflects poorly on the community as a whole.
I don’t really know what to do about this. I’m not sure that my friend does, either. She didn’t sign up for this job in order to be a spokesperson for the transgender community; she signed up for this job because she’s been passionate about videogames for her entire life, and she got hired because she’s an excellent writer and knows her stuff and she makes the gaming press better as a result. If we as the community can’t deal with her sexuality, which is something that is totally irrelevant to her actual job, then we don’t deserve her. And I think we would suffer as a result.