A lot has been written these days about fandom: How it’s toxic behaviour damages what I’d call the geek culture overall. With each passing outrage, be it over Captain America, reviews for a videogame or just reporting on them, I feel more and more detached from a community that I’d call my home – at least on the internet. While being a dick to someone on the internet isn’t something new, I feel like the huge hype machinery concocted by the marketing for movies and videogames, is at least partially responsible for the increase in toxic behaviour in the community.
The reason why I write this is mostly because Jason Schreier from Kotaku published a story yesterday on how he got death threats for publishing the story on No Man’s Sky recent delay. Now, you can think about the outlet or himself what you want, but it should be clear that it’s not ok to threaten somebody only because he reports on the news. And while gaming culture has a huge toxicity problem, I also blame the hype surrounding the game. That fans were going to be disappointed by another delay seems logical so far, even if I have to admit the sheer outrage it has triggered is beyond my understanding.
It’s not exactly an isolated instance either. The attacks on Anita Sarkeesian spring to mind and it’s downright ridiculous how long the situation with Gamergate has been going on. Social Media platforms like Twitter not being able to deal with harassment properly is of course also a problem, but it doesn’t only happen there. Other platforms are ripe with personal attacks, hateful comments and threats too. Even the creators themselves get attacked by so-called fans of the game.
Parts of the community never seem to have learned how to deal with criticism and disappointment. The anonymity coupled with brand loyalty and hype lead to a vicious cycle where any kind of negative news surrounding ‘their’ game or movie spurs a huge, hateful reaction. Every time a big game gets released, reviewers that score the game lower than others get singled out and attacked. I hate to write this, but gaming and the geek culture (or at least parts of it) have a serious amount of growing up to do. No medium can progress without criticism, without discussion.
Same goes for fandom.
I know that huge parts of the community don’t make death threats, don’t spew nonsensical hatred where they can. But I also feel like that part of the community isn’t doing enough against all the rage, the attacks and hatred going around. Speaking out against it should be a first step. Questioning people about their behaviour when they encounter it should be another. Overall, a change of climate needs to happen in the community or it will loose many of its most important members. What are your thoughts on the issue?