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.