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Who cares what you’re playing, as long as it’s fun to play. I hate gatekeepers, and see the behaviour all over the place. So let’s talk a little about gatekeeping, and why it’s all nonsense.
This is The Waffling Taylors Raw with Jay, a series of shorter episodes of indefinite length. These episodes will cover shorter topics which don’t really fit well within the scope of the show, or topics that I want to cover in my own way. That’s not to say that we won’t cover these topics in the main show, but I’d like to take a whack at them here, first.
I can’t guarantee that all of these shorter episodes will be as deep or technical as this one. But I wanted to start big.
Anyway, let’s get to it.
Have you ever been mid-conversation with someone about some new thing
a game, a album, a book, movie, whatever
and they turn to you and say:
you’re not a real fan unless you…
and they always emphasise the
If so, they’re attempting to dismiss your new-found enthusiasm by claiming that you don’t qualify as a “real” fan of whatever it is.
hopefully you can hear the bunny quotes around "real" there
Well, guess what? You are a “real” whatever. But you don’t need me to tell you that.
I remember being told by someone that I wasn’t a “real” Star Wars fan because I hadn’t read any of the (at the time) extended universe books
they’ve since been renamed "legends" or something. I don’t know
I retorted with
whatever dude. All I know is that I really like Empire, and the story of the original trilogy. While you’re complaining about me not being a "real" fan, whatever that is, I’m going to head over here and eat some cookies. Best of luck to you
Maybe I’m a little more level headed when it comes to gatekeepers, or maybe I was just really hungry for cookies. The real answer is lost to the ages.
As a supportive community, somewhere along the way we’ve gotten lost.
I can remember a time when I was bullied at school for playing video games. I can also remember the gamers at the school banding together for support, and swapping tips and techniques for beating whatever boss we were stuck on. Over time it’s become more acceptable to spend some of our free time at play in virtual worlds. But somewhere along the way, parts of the communities we’ve started have turned on us.
You’re not a real gamer unless you…
I hate that phrase.
One of the ways that I deal with criticism (constructive or not) is to deconstruct what was said so that I can apply something from it. So let’s do that.
First, this sentence is the opinion of the speaker. They are telling you that, in their opinion, they don’t think that you are whatever whatever. Here’s the great thing about opinions: we’ve all got one. And here’s the bad thing about opinions: we’ve all got one.
there’s a comment here about opinions being like butts: we’ve all got one, and they all stink from time to time
but I won’t make it
So what they are saying cannot ever be fact. Meaning that we’ve immediately debunked what they’ve said.
Next, what does “real” mean? I’ll be that if you asked them, they wouldn’t be able to tell you without talking about themselves. That should tell you everything you need to know.
I agree that gatekeeping is a form of bullying and exclusionism, and we need to stamp it out. I don’t have any advice to give for dealing with this other than, “call them out and move on,” which is way easier to say than to do.
Lost - Hardware
I opined earlier
see, everyone has opinions, and mine suck
about how we’ve become lost as a community. We’ve lost our supportive spirit, and I think I know how.
Back when we were kids, some of us had video games consoles. What we might not have fully appreciated at the time, was that they were expensive.
Let’s use the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis as an example
when adjusted for inflation to 2020 levels, it launched at $394.26 US. And it came with a pack-in version of Altered Beast, with the majority of each separate game costing around $40-$50 US - which is around $70-90 US adjusted to the same 20202 inflation levels as the console.
So it was only natural that the majority of working parents, who would afford one, would only buy one console. And because we only had access to one console, we would naturally claim brand loyalty.
Well my Sega has Sonic the Hedgehog
Yeah? Well, I have Legend of Zelda on my SNES
And so the arguments went.
Back then, we would trade games with friends who had the same console and would likely form cliques around the consoles that we had. I remember trading our Mega Drive and games for a friend’s SNES and games, for a week. The reason being that we could then get a good idea as to whether our console was better. They were both equally as good
though I always thought Mortal Kombat was better on the Mega Drive
but that was only because it wasn’t censored
Here’s why this “my console is better than your console” argument no longer works:
Most of us are in a position where we can afford (within limits) multiple consoles, should we want to get them all
Who cares if one console has a higher FLOPS count? Cross-plat games are all built the same tools, targetting the weakest system
Almost all of the consoles are built on PC architecture, using the same components, meaning that consoles in the same generation are almost identical
we’ll leave Nintendo out of this last point, only because they don’t tend to push the hardware to it’s limit
rather they choose to innovate with the hardware they have
but the other points are just as valid
With these points in mind, it’s pretty simple to see that it doesn’t really matter which console (or consoles) you choose to own, because they’re all practically the same anyway. Oh, and most games dev companies don’t have septate teams working on the different console versions of each game. There’s usually one team who work on the engine, and another who work on the gameplay. And porting the game from one machine to another (within the same generation) is usually a case of checking a box in the build tools. They’re (largely) all built from the same code, so they’re all the same
for consoles across the same generation
This wasn’t true in the 90s and early 2000s, but the build tools and off-the-shelf engines have made it ridiculously easy to target multiple consoles in the same generation without much work. And that’s because, for all intents and purposes, they are the same.
So the hardware argument is moot.
Lost - Software
too long; didn’t listen
for this bit is: are you having fun playing that game? Then you be you.
As just one person
and my opinion doesn’t count, remember
I’ve recently had fun playing:
Super Mario 3D World
Resident Evil Revelations 2’s Raid Mode
the Ace Attorney Trilogy
Untitled Goose Game
And that’s just on my Nintendo Switch. I’ve also loved playing a Flappy Bird clone that I’ve thrown together, along with one of my own games called Run Away
which are the epitome of "casual" games
There are some fast-paced games in there
Astral Chain, and Revelations 2
There are some slow burners in there, too
Untitled Goose Game, Ace Attorney, and Detention
and some stupidly fun platformers
Super Mario 3D World and Croc’s World
Do these titles make me a “real” gamer? Who cares!
As I said earlier, there’s no “real” gamer because it’s all opinion and gatekeeping. Do I have fun playing these games? You bet your bellybutton, I do. And that’s all that matters.
When Squidge I went to EGX
in the before times
we met a lot of people across the gaming spectrum; from pros who are paid to review, speed run, or be the best at a given game to folks who hadn’t played any games since their childhood. Are they “real” gamers?
They’re real people, and they like playing video games. Who cares what “real gamers” means, as long as they’re having fun.
It’s Not Just Gaming
As I mentioned earlier when I said
Have you ever been mid conversation with someone about some new thing
I’ve seen this across fandom, technology, the music industry, and even into academia
yes, even professors have been shown to be gatekeepers over their titles
I know from my own experience as a dev, that I’ve seen this on an almost daily basis. It can be due to technology of choice:
you’re not a real developer, because you use .NET
a person’s gender identity or race
which doesn’t even make sense in my opinion
where that person is from, or whether they are self-taught, attended a bootcamp or went to a university.
When it comes to finding out whether someone is a “real” developer
I’ve been a paid developer for almost 15 years, and I still don’t know what
the technology doesn’t matter, and neither do any of the other things. Here’s the only thing that matters:
can you develop some software, given the programming language and technology of your choice?
if yes, then you’re a developer. I don’t know about the “real” part, but who cares about that, right?
I’ve seen it in the music industry, too.
I have a friend who is a professional musician. This friend specialises in playing electronic instruments: keyboards, synthesisers, samplers, drum machines, noise machines, etc. They have consistently been told that they aren’t a “real” musician because they don’t:
own a studio
have a multi-million dollar record deal
have a top 10 hit
and many other nonsense things
most of which these game gatekeepers don’t have
It’s just gatekeeping - putting someone else down, because they haven’t achieved some arbitrary goal yet.
Firstly, just accept that other people do things differently to you. In fact, lean into it.
I often mentor junior developers, and one of the things I always tell them is to go out and figure out how other people do what you do. By looking at the different ways that folks do things, you can learn about the way that you do it, and even adopt some of their practises.
In a gaming context: accept that other people play games that you don’t, but ask whether you can join in. If it’s not for you, then accept that and accept the fact that they’re having fun and go find some fun of your own. You never know until you try, you might like flappy Bird or Call of Duty after all.
I’ve said this in the past, but compassion is the most important skill in life. Being able to appreciate where someone is and help them to get where they are going will put you in good stead for achieving your goals. And being compassionate to other gamers is the antithesis of being a gatekeeper - gatekeepers, by definition lack compassion.
And finally, celebrate.
You’re part of a community, regardless of what that community is, which is supportive; so make sure that you are supportive too. If someone has just discovered some new thing and wants to tell you all about it, then celebrate their enthusiasm and be there with them for that journey.
Here’s the thing: regardless of what it is, if you like something, you should never have to:
like it as much or as little as someone else
Col. Sherman T Potter once said:
If you ‘aint were you’re at, then you’re no-place.
And old Doc Potter is right. Go be yourself, and if yourself isn’t “real” enough for the people around you then perhaps find some other people to be around.
One more quote for you:
I’ve no wish to keep it real, because keeping it real is such a bore.
I don’t care whether you’re playing a deeply immersive game with 400 hours of story, a fast-paced button-basher or FPS, some kind of slow burn RTS, or a round of a “casual” game just to pass the time. I only have one question for you: