Part of my work involves creating video content, managing the creation of video content from others, and building a friendly fan community around games, all for students ages 8-14. Sometimes, working on gaming videos really highlights how inappropriate and angry YouTube gamer culture can be. It ranges from telling everyone who doesn’t love a favorite game that they’re clueless noobs, all the way to telling specific women who don’t love a favorite game that you’re going to rape and kill them. Of course, #NotAllYouTubers. (I’d really like to be wrong about this, though, so if you know the secret password to find the polite and clever vloggers, do share it, ok?)
I definitely don’t mean that every single person who chooses vlogging as their outlet is toxic, clearly. But it’s difficult to find thoughtful games commentary in a sea of hostile vloggers, being loudly nasty about liking the wrong games, engaging with those games the wrong way, not being an arbitrary level of good enough at an arbitrary list of games, not deserving to be a gamer, etc., performing for a community who regularly appear from the ether to swear at each other in the comments. Sometimes I wonder if there’s so much of this angry and hostile content because that’s meeting some horrible inner need.
But then one of my students will send me a game strategy video where he opens by saying it’s only his best strategy, and viewers may have another one, and theirs is probably good too, and I don’t feel so completely hopeless.
I went to an IndieCade talk yesterday, on Subverting Toxic Let’s Play Culture, from Matt Albrecht of the Fourplay show. All of IndieCade makes me feel like I’m among My People, from facemeeting my internet friends and meeting so many creative and brilliant strangers, and like I’m the little kid tagging along with the grownups, just from the sheer talent around me.
This talk was no exception, and I felt both like YEAH SOMEONE FINALLY SAID WHAT WE’RE ALL THINKING! and Man, I would never have figured that out… in rapid succession. You can get Matt Albrecht’s presentation here, and if you’re interested in games criticism, or gaming communities, or building spaces to shares thoughts on games, it’s really worth looking at this presentation. I kind of want everyone to read it. Although, I tweeted the slide in which the Rooster Teeth community managers asks female fans what they’d like more of, and the ladies respond (predictably) with requests for more female talent and fewer rape jokes, and I was (predictably) told off for policing games…. Lots for me to think over after this presentation, as we work to make a fun, safe, and age-appropriate gaming community for our students.
This presentation, and the talks afterwards, have also given me a lot to think about to improve my own language when I write, since there are many small ways to be more inclusive of all readers and viewers.