My journey into gaming started when I was five-years-old when my family got our first gaming console: a Super Nintendo. My love of games has only grown ever since. My gaming habits eventually migrated to PC being exposed to Tomb Raider, Freespace, Half Life, Thief, and the Elder Scrolls series to name a few.
Through my teen years, like many others, had a rough go with school and my home life while not bad still offered little relief in terms of stress. I knew at the end of the day I had gaming to rely on. As the internet became more prevalent I was able to connect with more people who shared my passion.
I forged new friendships and created my own private landscape I could explore, control, and manipulate on my own terms. The ability to escape to a space where others were like me, a safe space to express myself, to meet new people and have fantastic adventures.
I knew I always had to go back to the mundane with work and school, but for a moment each night, I could escape. I had mobility. I had agency. I found new games with new experiences to expand my digital life even further. I could be anyone and do anything.
Even that world I created for myself, my refuge from the outside world, turned out to be a pipe dream. Soon the reality of the outside began to encroach on the life I chose to live. I was once an avid 4chan user myself. When the real world started to reach into something that I really felt helped me fight off often severe depression, I like many others, became hostile.
When something or someone you see as being outside of your group, not one of you, someone who may not feel the same way about the medium as you. Someone you think does not have that intimate connection you gained through years of loving a medium, the gut reaction is to go on the defense. Even if you do not know what you are defending against.
We did not play games; they were an intimate part of our lives. Games provided us an identity. Our love of games is similar to the love of film and comics from the generations before us.
Video games were always there, even when people around me would always come and go. They gave me stability when mentally I was in a constant state of flux. At times it was not enough and there was a suicide attempt that only those incredibly close to me know about. Not even my family.
After all I went through I still fell back into gaming. Naturally being a gamer was an important part of my identity. Video games saved my life. They brought me back from very dark places. I know I am not the only one.
Now I am older. I am married and have a family of my own. What began as hostility against those I perceived as against the medium, I came to realize that they were there to enhance it. These people want gaming accessible to all groups, all ages, and all orientations.
If gaming was able to save me, then it also has the ability to save others. Who are we to deprive anyone of that?
This is not about journalism, sexism, homophobia, harassment, or corruption. It is about many of us wanting to keep our hobby in our bubble. If someone else is analyzing it and critiquing it, bringing in the problems of the outside world and projecting them on our medium it is a tough pill to swallow.
At times like this, we cannot miss the opportunity to let our hobby grow. We cannot selfishly keep it to ourselves. We created our spaces, it is time to let others create theirs.
One of two things will happen, you will accept things are changing and move on, or take it personally and try to drive out those forces, close the blinds and shut the door. I hope it is the first option we all choose. We owe it to the hobby we all love to foster an environment that is safe and inclusive for everyone.
There is room in gaming for us all.
Gamers are not dead or dying. Gamers are changing, evolving. I do not know what gaming will become or what it will mean to be a gamer in 20 years, but I know we can achieve great things together. Gaming is on a path to become a mass medium. It is time we let everyone in.
Let’s set aside what has happened and try to start over with a blank slate. Our love of games is our common ground. Let us all find our own ways to enjoy them. Keep them close to your hearts and minds. Then we will create something special. Together.