Letter From The Editor: Simon Parkin vs The Gaming Community


Simon Parkin of Eurogamer, New Statesmen and The Guardian (not quite DC standard, but he’s done alright) has come out and declared that “if you love gamers, you should refuse to be called a gamer” because nothing portrays your passion like refusing to be associated with the verb of that passions subject matter. There’s also a brilliant, flame/click bait tag that simply reads the idea of a gaming community needs to die”. Read his article before you read this one, as this one will make no sense unless you do. Having said that, I can’t stop you either way so take it under advisement.

Parkins begins his article referencing the VGX, something I think most…I want to say ‘gamers’ here, but apparently we should refuse to be called gamers…there must be another way to refer to a group of people interested in video games … I’ve got it! I’ll refer to all peoples interested in games as Cobilatimaters. Where was I? Right, so Parkins begins his article referencing the VGX, something that most Cobilatimaters cringed at because it had no idea who its target audience was. None. The simple idea that Cobilatimaters are a target audience should tell you something – we are a community – there is, at least on a basic, fundamental level, one shared philosophy: we take games seriously.

communitypic1 Letter From The Editor: Simon Parkin vs The Gaming Community

Should the idea of a gaming community really die?

I’m going to leave aside the trans joke (Wario hasn’t undergone a sex change, HAHAHAHA!?) because 1. It was so god damn feeble I’m surprised that such a tacky, cheap, throwaway waste of speech managed to register any reaction other than ‘really?’ and 2. I have such a poor understanding of anything trans that to speak on the matter would be intellectually dishonest. But what I will remark on is Microsoft’s E3 ‘rape joke’, where a ‘male representative’ (let’s not forget that he’s a man) told a female representative (let’s not forget she’s a woman) who he was beating in Killer Instinct to ‘just let it happen’ and ‘it’ll be over soon.’ I was there when this happened. Everyone attending burst out laughing, because it was so left-field, so utterly unexpected, and context specific. I doubt a single member of that audience was thinking “Oh yeah I love and support rape, and to show that love and support of non-consensual sex I’m going to laugh at this scenario”.

The thing I’ve never understood is that, as Cobilatimaters, we know killing is wrong, yet we do it all the time in videogames. Parkins seems to argue the same case. Our actions in videogames don’t in any way represent our morals in the real world. I’ve laughed at jokes about race. Who hasn’t? Does it mean that I think, fundamentally, that one culture/skin colour etc is necessarily inferior or doesn’t deserve equal rights? Fuck no. You can joke about genocide, torture, every human atrocity known to man, but rape – that’s the button.

In the same way that ‘Wario’s sex change’ was an easy, throwaway, insipid waste of carbon, the “OMG a rape joke was made :(!” is an easy, cheap way to farm indignation and outrage.

Read this article on rape jokes. I think it’s pretty damn good.

This is the bit in the article that boggles my mind:

“There is an argument to say that the game-makers and publishers benefit (Editor: from the gaming stereotype, you know the drill, white male super privileged etc): they are more easily able to target their marketing to a large and discrete group (“this is for the players” states Sony’s current advertising campaign for its PlayStation 4, for example). But this isn’t quite true: see Nintendo’s gargantuan efforts during the past five years to reach people outside of the traditional gamer demographic. In truth, it’s gamers who fit within the demographic that benefit the most: here, within the artifice of a ‘community’ they find a place to belong, a place where they fit, are understood and are free to be themselves and, together with like-minded people, enjoy a sense of collective power.

There is nothing deplorable about this; the urge to form groups with like-minded people is a universal one. But when that collective power is turned against those on the margins of the group, or those who present valid criticisms of its unifying subject (such as the American-Canadian feminist Anita Sarkeesian, who has been subject to everything from verbal abuse to threats of violence following her Tropes vs. Women series) it becomes problematic. Sarkeesian, for example,was e-mailed images of herself being raped by video game characters.”

What collective power are you talking about? Have you ever seen a comments section? Trying to get Cobilatimaters to agree on anything is like herding disgruntled, diarrheic cats – all they want to do is scratch, bite and shit everywhere. It’s rare enough you get a comment with even 5% of the words spelt correctly, let alone a legible thought. The idea a ‘collective power’ got itself organized to persecute Sarkeesian is hilarious. I’m the editor on a small (but quality, mind you) gaming blog in the vast ocean of the internets, and I’ve still received rape and death threats. Buckle the fuck up, princess, because guess what? This shit happens to everyone, regardless of your genitalia. Hell, I got threats when I posted a satirical article called Why Video Games Sucks on APRIL FOOL’S DAY.

‘Benefits the Cobilatimaters’…Christ, it’s business. It’s a jungle. We shape the jungle and the jungle shapes us. The AAA fruits that the Cobilatimaters could once not get enough of are migrating to the delicious roots of the F2P shrub, or whatever ecosystem analogy you want to put there.

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I think these guys like games.

Further, the idea that ‘we’ll all be Cobilatimaters one day so why would we need to even claim to be Cobilatimaters’ is flawed. Just because you can read doesn’t mean you’re a reader – some guy whose eyes flicker across the brand of a milk carton hasn’t tried to think about his life in context of the words he’s already forgotten. You can eat, but you’re not a foodie, you can run, but you’re not a runner. Being able to self-identify is a huge part of an individual’s life. I consider myself a Cobilatimater because gaming is the medium by which I enjoy and experience art and narrative – it provides me with deeper understanding and meaning in my life.

Despite ending with a limp-wristed whimper declaring that ‘maybe games can shape the community, and thus the solution can be found within’ (with absolutely no hint of irony considering the heading, tagline and subject matter of the article), I agree with the other sentiment he’s made about education. Education is the remedy. Understanding that facts are more important than emotions, considering arguments critically and not just how you feel about things is the pathway to truth.

Calling myself a Cobilatimater speaks to one philosophy I hold – I take games seriously/they have meaning in my life. Everything else is something else, and if you agree, then we can form a Cobilatimater community, and Parkin isn’t allowed to join. Unless he wants to. More the merrier.

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