If you’re interested in participating in the Geek Out Challenge, read this post here! Each day I will be posting a question for that day for the next 30 days. Follow along each day with your own post or feel free to wait until the entire challenge has been released and take it on when you like! Be sure to link back to the master post at the end or link back to each post for each day.
Day Twenty Four: Something you want to improve about the geek community?
For all the positives I’ve experienced since embracing this community to a greater degree extent, I would probably say subjectively the one aspect I would like to see improve amongst the geek community, or to frame it another way, removed, is the creeping polarisation and tribalism that has overwhelmed the political arena in both America and the United Kingdom to the extent opponents struggle, at best, to talk and form consensus on any issue. To clarify I’ve come to this audience of people from a fairly traditional conservative base, to see everyone fully embracing the programs, genres and series they love to such a visible extent has been a joy to see. When I attended my first convention it was an overwhelming assortment of characters and visitors dressed as their heroes and the odd villain here and there, the overwhelming message to take away was a sense of outwards inclusivity and acceptance for those around you. It was a delight. Since then, witnessing, reading and following as many individuals and perspectives as I can, the one aspect I have begun to pick up is a sense of tribalism for the community as a whole and a fierce defence and almost protectionism when any criticism or detraction is aimed towards it.
The broader fan based community, from which I approach from a gaming perspective, tends to ‘suffer’ from similar faults and to a degree almost a sense of hubris in its defence. As a result, from an outside perspective and to an outside audience, it does continue to be looked down upon, any challenge or criticism is often met with a staunch, rigid almost overwhelming defence that does little allay the fears and concerns of those around us. I’ll give a personal example, recently a colleague asked about my plans for the week ahead, when I answered I would be attending the Pokemon centre in London it was met with a nervous laugh and a few, challenging comments. I imagine as fans we all have anecdotes of this nature, when we’ve been challenged on our interests and naturally wanted to either lash out or defend our tribe. Tribalism is a natural, primal instinct that is seductive to be swept up in, that sense those in our circle will defend our cause in unison. I tend to approach this view point from the perspective progress has only ever been made when two opposing forces come together to find consensus. The middle ground approach that is prepared to compromise and discuss to find a solution that benefits both parties.
Is this prevalent within the gaming, but also the broader, ‘geek community’? to some extent I would argue it’s quite visibly present, especially the bleed over from political tribes with contributors and bloggers actively blocking and muting those who have a differing belief to theirs. Of course we all have a right and freedom to do as we wish, this ease of isolation does present the very real threat however of content creators living within digital echo chambers where the viewpoints we encounter are of those we agree with entirely, never exposed to contrarian or opposing ideas which may have merit. In a broad sense we are defined by our morality, we all, I hope, want to be morally right in what we produce and create. For me the issue when our morality breaks away from traditional values and becomes wrapped around us as individuals we lose the ability to interact and challenge each other for the better. As gaming and wider fandom communities look to elevate themselves into the public discourse and broader cultural acceptance, to adopt political tribal behaviours and policy seems an entirely asinine contention. Of course, does a community based entirely on fictional narratives and structure require such deep morality based ethics to guide and shape it?
Storytelling has been a critical and fundamental aspect of societal growth since the dawn of civilization, it’s shaped our religious foundations and continues to have an important aspect in shaping and forming behavioural traits in education today. Digital gaming narratives have matured to some extent since its inception and certainly today the main thread of a title such as Firewatch, its notion of isolation and repentance in contrast to the earliest Mario titles is a wide chasm. My concern when I see content creators polarising their public persona, writing and beliefs around a political diatribe risks dividing a community that is already built upon fractured foundations. Taking an incident such as Gamergate, do we look at those ‘guilty’ of these attacks with malice for their actions or attempt to recognise a sense of fear and anxiety for a society marginalising and challenging their existence and well being. The answer isn’t simple, what frustrates me outside the geek community especially with politics in this country is how certain hardline left and right wing camps attempt to shape the debate. It’s corrosive and damaging and something I would wish the geek community stays clear of for its own sake. Morality is formed when we talk to each other and form common consensus not hide away in our digital bubbles protected from all the mean people outside.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog please ‘like’ the Around The Bonfire Facebook page and contribute your own stories and comments, and share my blog and Facebook posts (this is really important – it’s how we reach more readers!). Alternatively join us in the Twitter Universe for a take on the latest gaming news or Instagram for a wealth of gaming pictures and stories.