Hi, my name is John and I don’t like the Fallout games.
Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the Fallout games for what they are. I can admire the unique setting and visual commitment to it but ultimately, for all the strengths of the games, I just don’t have any fun with them. Maybe I’m just not as keen on 1950s Americana as other people, I don’t know, but whatever it is I have never really enjoyed a single Fallout game.
Wow, it feels good to get that off my chest. I’ve been carrying it around for a while now and I just can’t seem to get past the way I feel.
Of course this normally wouldn’t be a problem. After all, I review games all the time right here on EB and part of that job is to point out things I don’t like. Time and time again though, I have found that mentioning this particular opinion of mine is met with a firestorm of backlash by my fellow gamers. It’s like everyone else played a different game than I did, or else one forum poster is correct and I’m a mentally deficient man in an incestuous relationship with my mother (I may have edited that last one).
Nor is this is the only time I’ve expressed an opinion only to see a reaction more akin to a murder confession than a preference in which digital media I consume. I hated Final Fantasy VII, I really didn’t like the Sam Raimi Spider Man films (although I’m actually starting to realise I just hate Spider Man) and I cannot get onboard with the Witcher no matter how many times I try.
I’m not saying all these things to garner sympathy or to claim my opinions are somehow the correct ones, but because the extreme reaction in each case made me start to wonder when we had all sat down and agreed these holy commandments by which all geeks must be bound?
Did some wise old man go up a mountain and come back with an Atari under each arm inscribed with ‘Thou must love Firefly’?
I think the answer is probably a little less dramatic than that, although I kinda wish we could get a gamer version of Charlton Heston’s Moses.
Of course, the anonymity of the net is a major factor as anyone who’s ever encountered a twitter troll will attest. The issue goes deeper then that though, even beyond the net and I think it’s endemic of the changing face of ‘Geek’.
See, it’s no secret that both gaming and Geekdom in general is now more popular then ever with people actively seeking to claim the title for themselves. As a community we’ve gone from a group who were united by exclusion, sometimes violent, from the popular mainstream to a group who are so firmly within the mainstream that we all risk drowning.
For some people this is a horror story, with the norms that have given them comfort for years suddenly being replaced by a scary new world where people can enjoy geeky stuff and never encounter the same social stigma that used to be the norm. These people are, thankfully, a minority but like every formerly powerful minority in history they are now terrified of what the future might mean for them and their response is to throw up walls.
The codifying of opinions is just one, relatively minor, symptom of this. To see the truly horrific extremes it can go to you only need to delve into the darker corners of Reddit or 4Chan (fair warning, you’ll want a shower afterwards) but it’s a dangerous one for our community.
When you have a vocal minority looking to shout down dissent it’s always going to be met with hostility and, as long as that minority pretends to be the arbiters of what is ‘Geek’, its going to mean that ownership of our hobbies, our films and our shows is pulled away all the faster from us to the new wave of consumers fresh-faced and eager to receive it. After all who’s going to want to be associated with that kind of poisonous thinking?
Free debate is the basis of a healthy society, and sometimes that means listening to opinions you don’t agree with. You can still then disagree but maybe don’t pretend your version is some sort of universal truth?
‘Making you a better Geek, one post at a time!’