By: Chris Hodges, editor-in-chief
If I were to accuse a gamer of “entitlement,” it would be over something legitimate. Like, say, feeling “entitled” to pirate themselves a free copy of a video game for some arbitrary reason like disagreeing with a company’s DRM policies. Or feeling “entitled” to verbally abuse people who make video games because, hey, they’re in the public eye and taking grief from the public comes with the territory. I could go on, but I think you get my point–there are definitely some pretty clear-cut examples of gamer entitlement run amok that there is nothing wrong with calling people out for.
However, the vast majority of the time, the term gets applied to absolutely any gamer who expresses their opinion about something, or dares to want something. I’ve either been called myself or witnessed people getting called “entitled”–usually preceded with adjectives like “whiny” and followed by adjectives like “little baby”–for things like expressing disappointment when a new console doesn’t have backwards compatibility, or complaining when a game doesn’t have any kind of single-player mode, or casually discussing the games we wished would’ve been included in [insert name of game compilation here] that aren’t, and on and on. I don’t feel that anything of those things make people entitled–it just means we have opinions, and we are exercising our right to complain about the ways that companies that we throw millions and millions of dollars at aren’t making us happy as consumers. It shouldn’t be too hard to parse out the gamers who are simply having discussions and expressing reasonable disappointments and expectations, and the ones who truly are the whiny, entitled little babies who want more than they should realistically expect.
“Social Justice Warrior (SJW)”
There are, in fact, a lot of people out there who seemingly live to be morally outraged by absolutely everything. Everything is offensive, everything is inappropriate, and everything is politically incorrect. They seem to love nothing more than find something that the majority of people are enjoying–in this case, video games–and fly the banner of self-righteousness as they point out all the ways that games are too violent, too sexual, and/or too offensive. Whereas most people will see a game where people’s heads get ripped off or a character is maybe a little too one-note in how they represent a certain ethnic group or where a woman’s body is barely covered and say “Eh, it’s not really hurting anybody, whatever,” the true SJWs will do everything in their power to rally against those games and wag a finger at everyone who enjoys the depravity.
However, at some point, the term SJW started to be used against anybody who had even the slightest negative opinion about the content of video games. Whereas we used to be able to have a rational discussion about mature content in games, these days you’re automatically out to censor artistic expression if you say absolutely anything other than “Rah rah, go boobs!”
“Okay, I’m all for games having the right to have any kind of content they want and not being censored in any way, but can we at least agree that the chest sizes of female characters tend to be a bit-”
“Silence SJW! Games shouldn’t be censored! First amendment!”
“Yes, I agree 100%. But that shouldn’t mean that we can’t even be adults and have a discussion about times when a game’s content didn’t really need to be quite so-”
“Don’t play it if you don’t like it, SJW! Take your Anita-loving self out of here and let the rest of us enjoy whatever games we want to play!”
“Fine. Game girls should be as busty and bare-assed as possible. How’s that?”
“Get a life, virgin! Getting off to video game girls…what a loser.”
It’s obviously completely subjective whether or not a game is over, under, or just the right amount of rated. Any game ever made can be overrated to one person, or underrated to another. The thing is, there used to be a time when people were able to divorce themselves from their own personal taste and look at a game objectively, and sometimes actually recognize that maybe a game truly is good, it’s just not their cup of tea. For example, I personally hate the Dark Souls series, but I don’t say those games over overrated because I respect what they do and acknowledge that there are obviously a lot of people out there who want that type of experience. It’s just not an experience that is built for me.
Now, the word “overrated” is most frequently used as another way of saying “I don’t happen to like this game that the majority of people like, so instead of trying to see what people like about it, or simply moving along quietly when people are discussing their love for it, I’m going to interject with my declaration about how everyone else is wrong about it.” It ends up being an easy way to troll a conversation in one simple four-syllable word, and as I alluded to in the subtext I quoted, that’s what it tends to be used for more often than not. People look for a lively discussion taking place about everyone’s love for Final Fantasy VII or Ocarina of Time or some other such beloved game, and they jump in with their “Meh. Overrated.” Then they sit back with devilish glee as the sparks fly.
Am I saying you don’t have the right to genuinely dislike FF7 or OoT or any other game? Of course not. Am I saying you don’t have the right to express that sentiment? Nope. What I’m saying is that it should be done in a way where you are presenting your opinion on why the game didn’t do it for you, rather than definitively declaring it overrated and the millions of people who do like it to be wrong.
Fanboys definitely exist. And we all have something we are a fanboy about, or have been at some point in our lives. There’s that certain thing that we see through rose-colored glasses and have trouble seeing any negative side to it. For a lot of us, that thing is a certain video game, video game series, or video game platform. There are a lot of examples of people viewing things through a distorted fanboy lens, in particular during debates about one console vs another, consoles vs PC, and so on. When a fan of [System X] claims there is simply “no good games” available for [System Y] in spite of that very obviously not being the case, that’s an example of someone actually being a fanboy. When someone gets irrationally angry over anyone saying absolutely anything remotely negative about their platform of choice, that’s also being a legit fanboy.
What is not being a fanboy is simply having strong opinions. And that’s what ends up happening far too often when someone expresses an opinion about something that someone else disagrees with. Don’t think all Zelda games are exactly the same? You must be a Nintendo fanboy. Like Forza more than Gran Turismo? You must be an Xbox fanboy. Genuinely not interested in PS3 games being playable on PS4 like X360 games are on XB1? You must be an PlayStation fanboy. Think this routine sounds a little familiar? You must be a Jeff Foxworthy fanboy. But in all seriousness, let’s keep in mind that some people do have opinions that come from a legitimate, intelligent, well-reasoned place, and that people aren’t always just fanboy drones because they have a strong opinion about something. Especially because there’s a good chance that if something somebody is saying has your fanboy sense tingling, it might very well be because what they are saying conflicts with the thing that you are actually a fanboy about.
“PC Master Race”
This one is interesting to me because it started out being used as a way to mock the elitist attitude and superiority complex of PC gamers, and was eventually embraced by them and used as a way to express the pride of being part of the “master race” of gaming. I’m all for appropriation of a formerly insulting word in order to take its power away, but let’s keep in mind that “Master Race” is a reference to Hitler, Nazi Germany, and genocide. There’s no way around it. But even if all of that genuinely didn’t occur to you–or you’re of the “it’s just a joke” mindset–fine. All that aside, it’s a needlessly combative term from which no friendly, level-headed discussion will ever be able to spring from, and since it is so easily used as both a prideful term for and knock against PC gamers, it’s far too conflicted to have any real use. Although a quick and easy label is always easier than an intelligent discussion, isn’t it?