Shaming in the Gaming Community

Shame: “A painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”

Shaming then is the act of causing someone to feel shame. Unfortunately, shaming is a big issue in many areas of our lives. The most notable example that comes to mind is “peer-pressure” where one person is convinced to do something they otherwise wouldn’t do just because their peers are doing it. To avoid the shame and humiliation of NOT participating, they give in and do stuff that they know they shouldn’t do.

Advertisements are especially guilty of shaming people in lots of ways. They make us feel that we, or something we own, is not good enough so that we’ll buy what they’re selling. Beauty products make women feel ugly or overweight, but promise that their product can help them out. Hair growth products make men who are losing their hair feel horrible. Once again, they promise that their product can fix it all and have you looking handsome onece again. Those are just a few examples and I’m sure you can think of plenty more on your own.

Shame in Gaming

I initially started thinking about this when I first loaded up “Wolfenstein: The New Order” and looked at the difficulty levels. Here’s a screenshot of what I saw:


If you choose the easiest setting, it pretty much implies that you’re a baby. The more difficult the setting you choose, the more “manly” the character appears. This is a form of shaming, even if the intent of the developers was just to offer difficulty levels that weren’t your tradidtional “Easy, Normal, Hard”. I personally wasn’t offended or anything and thought it was amusing, but it definitely got me thinking.

As I played the game I ran into a new problem I had not yet faced. The upgrade to PS4 has led to a shift from the traditional control scheme to one that’s slightly different. I struggled really hard trying to get used to using R2 to shoot instead of R1 which I had used nearly every day for like 15 years. It genuinely frustrated me and since there was no way to change that in the controls menu, I decided to return the game before I ran out of time to do so.

Apparently I’m Not Alone

My frustration took me to the internet (since I was already there) and I started looking to see how other people felt about the switch. I was NOT prepared for the level of hostility that would follow.

my god!! cant you guys stop complain about every litle issue???

Apparently complaining about any change or lack of options in a game results in one or two people agreeing with you and dozens of others shouting obscenities at you and telling you to get over it. Even when the “complaint” was written out very thoroughly and the complainer had really good reasons why an option should be there, those who responded were often hostile or rude or unwilling to even consider the thought before blurting things out like:

“just get used to it, Jesus”

“Have a lollipop you little *bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep*”

“You just have to move your fingers down a little. With enough practice surely you’ll get used to it.”

“Well L2 and R2 feel so much better, I don’t see why people don’t just adapt.”

Every one of these statements is a form of shaming. Those who were frustrated or had a legitimate complaint were basically being told that their idea or complaint wasn’t justified and that they wasted time by posting it. It implies that because they’re struggling with something that nobody else seems to struggle with, they’re not as good at playing games as others. I understand that offering an option to suit EVERYONE is an unrealistic expectation, but when players treat each other like this it helps nothing. Complaining doesn’t help either, but sometimes seeing that others are struggling with something similar can be a big relief to someone doubting themselves.

A little solidarity is all people are usually looking for.

Every Gamer Wants Something Different

The reality is that nobody is perfect and no two people are the same. What works for YOU might not work for someone else. When PC gamers ridicule those of us who prefer consoles, it helps nothing. I’m sorry but I cannot use a mouse and keyboard as well as I can use a controller. I could barely read when I started playing consoles but I was in my teens when I started playing PC games. Consoles just feel better, more comfortable to me. When someone says only true gamers can play a game like Dark Souls, they’re shaming every single person out there who doesn’t enjoy games like Dark Souls (I am one of those people).

Some people prefer to play games on easier difficulty settings so they can relax and just enjoy the story while others prefer harder difficulties because they find overcoming challenges more rewarding. Both options, and every option in between, are perfectly reasonable ways to play games.

Some people like to shoot with R1 and some don’t. That’s just the way it is.

The Moral Of All This

The gaming community is often viewed very negatively by the rest of the world. Anti-gun activists point to violent video games as the cause for mass shootings. Feminists criticize how few games feature strong female characters. Those are just TWO groups that came to mind right away.

To the average person who doesn’t play games, the image that pops up when you say “gamer” is that of a disgusting teenager sitting at his desk amidst a pile of trash staring into his computer screen. Then if any of those people look deeper into the gaming community all they would see is a bunch of people who insult each other and are hostile to one another. To them, that completely justifies the negative view they had.

If we, as gamers, want to be accepted by the rest of the world, and by each other, we need to make gaming a FRIENDLY activity. It needs to be something that ANYONE can enjoy, regardless of skill level or how adaptable you are. Games are supposed to provide an escape from the harshness and crappiness of the real world and yet all we do is bring that stuff into games with us.

I long for a day where I can play a multiplayer game without hearing everyone insult each other. Because really, most of us are just trying to have a good time.


One thought on “Shaming in the Gaming Community

  1. AH, I found the comment section. I am not used to all this new comment thingies. To add on what I twittered. I think it is a damn shame when speaking about games, so many people speaks about what I think it is not important. Like platform.

    It is not like u automatically become a better gamer, just because you have PC. Which is kinda what I have seen many times on the internet. I was actually in pc-gaming days one of the best and highest ranked on my server in world of warcraft. It is not like now that switched to consoles I am turned into to a bad player. But I am also one of the worst shooter players you can get. I also hate them with passion. I always love Dark Souls, it was game sinked most time in since wow. But am I casual and bad gamer just because I hate shooters. To be honest by old game difficulty standards Dark Souls is a easy game. But somehow some Dark Sous player have decided they are good gamers just because they like Dark Souls.

    My first MMORPG was Meridian 59, a game when a other player killed you. They could take ALL your equipment when you die and lost a level everytime you died.. I loved it. But I can see other players it just ruined their day. They come online and someone erased all there progress in 10 seconds. They maybe played because social aspect of the game. So in that way that game sucked. But Dark Souls beeing hard, it is not true. It just have unforgiving game mechanics. You lose some off your progress. If you like the game it is long from being hard game. It is just timing based game. After all there is just two sorts of attacks, strong and weaker faster. It is not for example like WoW where strategy, teamwork and knowledge is big part defeating a boss.

    I think the focus should be the game. It is not a big difference in terms of experience between the games. It is not like they have different gameplay mechanics between platforms. I love when you constructive places to discuss. One of my best forum experiences was a Dragon Dogma. DD had cool system where you could loan your follower NPC to other players. It was great forum. People helped each other. Helped new players to make their followers better. It was positive and fun. I remember peolple helped train my follower npc for hours and I did the same with theirs. Then we discuss it. It was great, people could even discuss strength and weakness off different specs. Without losing control and say other gamers was stupid. It was most rare and fun I had on forums. It is sad it is rare.

    I under stand completely with controls. I can not play a game if the Y-axis is not inverted. It destroyed the whole first 10 hours with Tropico 4 that did not have the option to invert the look and down controls. In the old days, games always had inverted look and down controls. I played games since 1984. So for me that is super important. Options shall never be a bad thing. I think a game developer shows respect to their players by letting them decide what controls they want use.

    Also people treat game companies different, if it is EA that have bug. Most people go berserk. But Rockstar delivering GTA5 without multiplayer was defended.

    I learnt my lesson concerning internet, since been almost 20 years discussing stuff. I have mental ignore filter and just skip comments and posts from jerks.

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