Why do gamers hate games?

So E3 is here and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s my favorite holiday! (It is too a holiday, at least at my house!) I’ve been a gamer all my life, first kid’s board games, then paper and cardboard wargames, and then they went and invented personal computers and video game consoles and arcades and… damn! Amazing stuff.

I love games!

At the same time, I know people who hate games. They see them as mind-rotting wastes of time, or hopelessly geeky, or in some way harmful to our psyches. These people stay far away from games and when they do have something to say about games, it’s something negative. I understand where they’re coming from. I don’t agree with them, but they at least make sense.

But then there’s this huge group of people who play games, but hate them. E3 comes around and they immediately start responding to every piece of content with snark or condescension or disgust. They (apparently) hate everything they see. And yet they play games.

I just don’t get it. People with other interests don’t do this. Golfers don’t talk about how much golf sucks. Stamp collectors don’t think stamps are all lame. Yachtsmen don’t hate boats. Knitters don’t curse the existence of sheep. So why are so many gamers driven to talk disparagingly about their hobby?

For years, video and computer gaming was something that you did in private. For the most part, you wouldn’t share the fact that you were a gamer when you were at a dinner party or something. If you did you’d get some very curious looks, indeed. We weren’t exactly ashamed of being gamers, but we didn’t broadcast it either.

Sometimes I wonder if this snark-attitude is a remnant of those days? If we talk disparagingly about every new game we see, we think we’re somehow holding ourselves a little bit apart from that ‘gamer stigma’ and hope non-gamers will take us more seriously?

I just don’t understand it, and it disappoints me. I keep looking for kindred spirits to share the joy of gaming with, and I find very few. And there are times when I’m right down there being as snarky and condescending as everyone else; I don’t understand myself very well, either. Hopefully I’ll re-read this post when I’m in one of those snark phases and will be able to examine my motives then. Right now I can’t imagine what I’m thinking at times like those.

Games are just games. If they drive you to generate all kinds of negative energy about them, it’s probably time to take a step back and find something else to do with your free time. Something that will have a positive impact on your life. Hopefully I’ll take that advice to heart the next time I visit SnarkVille.

6 thoughts on “Why do gamers hate games?

  1. I maintain that gamers have an inferiority complex, and therefor have a need to prove themselves as being outside any bounds, above any hype, or apart from the unwashed masses that make up the general gaming population.

    As you said, gaming USED to be a solitary past-time, and WAS generally relegated to the outcasts, the nerdy and the socially ostracized. Those people are still around, although now they’re older, and better adjusted to the world. They also have found that their hobby is now VERY popular. Like the indie band that now has a major recording deal and is all over the radio, these gamers want to make it known that they’ve been with the scene before it was popular. They have this need because they want the “geek cred”.

    Geek cred is constant one-upmanship. It’s achivement based in game. It’s a tally of how many games you’ve played, how LONG you’ve been gaming. It’s how well you play a game. All of these are compared to the same stats of OTHERS in the gaming community.

    Geek cred values setting oneself apart from members of the same species. Since a lot of gamers might not be as good skill-wise as they feel they need to be, they resort to snark, sarcasm and sometimes outright trolling to denegrate others in an effort to set themselves apart. They have a patholigical need to be seen as “the expert”, or “the visionary”, the one who “called it” when something fails. They want people in their community to look up to them…they want attention. They pass off opinion as fact (this is all opinion, BTW :D), and are quick to call bullshit on opposing views, even when those views are actually backed up with facts.

    I’m 100% with you. When I get sarcastic, I’m generally trying to play it for laughs (with a 10% success rate overall), but as pathetic as this sounds, gaming is my life. Some people live and breath football or reality TV. I breath gaming. I never want ANYTHING to fail, because I know real people worked really hard to bring that to us, and their continued livelyhood is based on it’s sale. I don’t buy into everything, but I believe that people need to shut their pie-holes more often and give these products the benefit of the doubt before they dismmiss them. Walling oneself off from something that contains elements that one might enjoy simply because they don’t like some aspects is confusing to me. I like my car, overall, but there are things that bug me…but I’m not going to drive it off a cliff in anger, spewing invectives out the window as I go. Who does that help?

    The Greater Internet isn’t capable of discussion, or even debate. Everything even semi-confrontational turns into an argument thanks to geek cred. I think THAT’S why gamers “hate” games…they feel that they have to if they want to stand out from those who choose to look at things from a different (and more accepting) perspective.

  2. I was going to respond but Scopique nailed it.
    Instead I’ll just add that reading the ‘Net generally puts me in a very bad mood. ;D

  3. Arkenor already said it, hate is a strong word. Love and hate are close together. The extremes are fanboys and haters. But I don’t think there are haters that are the polar opposite of fanboys. And the haters would probably never call themselves haters. Basically, it is a value is assigned to them by others.

    I guess you ask yourselves why people can write often longish rants why this or that game sucks. There are several kinds of “hate”. 1. They cared a lot for the game and were horribly disappointed. This often happens after hype wears off. 2. people like to play a similar game and feel the new MMO (most likely genre to attract such behavior) is threatening their world. They badmouth it. Somewhat immature. 3. It is also possibly to hate on a game you love. Some new design ideas for Eye of the North (the GW expansion) really drove me nuts (“they ruin the game!”).

    Similar to (2.) people love their games. Now someone comes along and says “WoW sucks”. Replace WoW with whatever you love, USA, Angela, whatever. This person just said what you love sucks! Why did this evil person do that? You can take it personal, and most people do on the internet. You should not, especially if it is -only- a game. Then you are the one who assigns too much value to the game, not the “hater”.

    Why can’t people simply shut up if they have nothing positive to say? Good question. Some just have not given up hope that it gets better. Take Wolfshead for example. Rants, polemics is what people call his articles at times. He is quite in a constant state of frustration, which I can totally understand. I also hope for some groundbreaking, earthshattering new kinds of MMORPG. But is it right to call a lover of the genre a hater because he is so frustrated with it? People like to rant, it is a mechanism to vent, to get over frustration. To cool down.

    There are other forms of “hate”: It is cool to hate on the big players. Apple, MS, Google, WoW, etc.. I think Scopique would call it “geek cred”.

    Just think of haters as spoiled lovers. And don’t let them ruin your day. They usually never intend that. 🙂

  4. If you think other industries don’t have snark, read some auto blogs… or photography blogs… or TV blogs. A mixed attitude toward an industry isn’t purely the domain of MMORPG fans 😛

  5. That’s a good point! Although there are a lot of gamers around here with interests in other hobbies, natually Pete and others of us are focused on gaming…we think that this behavior is only assigned to gamers because that’s where we focus our attention.

    But then again: do we expect this behavior from gamers because of the tradional stereotype of gamers as immature beings who are more likely to lash out without thought then “older, more refined” citizens? Obviously, we all here know that isn’t the case (as many of us are supposed to BE the older, more refined citizens).

  6. What’s the old quip? “There’s a fine line between love and hate”?

    It’s not a very intelligent thought for some reasons, but strong emotions do tend to run in herds. Someone who isn’t rabid about games either for good or ill will tend to have more moderate responses overall, while those who are already somewhat… polarized… will more easily swap poles, especially when they feel betrayed. They just don’t function in moderate emotional zones.

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