Troll Culture

Like most of you, I cannot get this election off of my mind. I have not been able to focus and write these blogs like I usually do without glancing at my social media every five minutes to see if some new, terrible act has been committed in his name. There is also a part of me that still wants to believe that this cannot be happening, and, despite this dread, I cannot help but know that it is insignificant compared to the legitimate fear that is felt by my black, Muslim, LGBTQIA+, immigrant, Latinx, etc. friends. This lack of focus lead me to conclude that I have to write on something related to the election, but also related to video games.

Enter the troll. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, think of I-r0k fromĀ Ready, Player One. They are someone who enters the online community and intentionally stirs up trouble or negativity in a variety of ways, only to sit back and enjoy people’s reactions. They can be innocent and fun, like the infamous Ken M. of Facebook. His comments are often briliiant in their stupidity, and, admittedly, it is a little fun to see people fall for the bait and “feed” him, only leading to more laughs.

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However, there are certainly parts of the internet that are less friendly, and, here, there are much worse people with little regard for social customs or common decency. I would rather not include a picture of some of those comments, as they are incredibly hate-filled, ignorant, and generally unfunny. These sorts of trolls either believe in the validity of their racist, homophobic, misogyny, etc., or do not care enough about these issues to see the impact of their words.

Given this election, I expect that the online community is in for an increase in the number of these sorts of trolls. How do we respond? Do we “feed” the troll and oppose their hateful words? As someone of privilege, I see that words have power, and this is the response that I want to take, but online arguments are extremely unproductive. I’m still very much confused, and there are much larger issues ahead as well. Would love to hear y’alls thoughts.

 

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Lazy? Not with my toothpick in hand!

Oh, the wonder! Remember those days when you sat at home wondering what you were going to do because you were so bored out of your mind that you had taken to counting the number of times your mother said: “Why don’t you find something to do?” Well, I don’t. My situation differed in many aspects because like those “dirty slobs” who sit around and do nothing I had taken up the art of video-gaming. I recall the times my parents would scream at me saying things that bordered the lines of “Why don’t you go outside, its such a lovely day?” or “Are you ever going to do something productive?” Productive? Mom, I just killed the equivalent of Genghis Khan with a toothpick in two hours, what do you call that? Of course she would storm off, rolling her eyes and muttering disappointment in herself and I for making me such a lazy son.

Ahh, she would never understand the complexity that it requires to be a hard-core gamer. Not only must you be proficient in every skill known to man, but you also have to be able to ignore the constant ravings of other players who we would call “trolls.” Which brings up another topic of the community and environment. We (all of us gamers out there) have had that time in our lives, maybe even multiple times, where others have challenged our social interaction with “real-life” people. I guess it is difficult to understand that I talk to thousands of people a day from all around the world with hundreds of ideas, lifestyles, and beliefs. Yes, I have never met them in person, and no, I probably never will, but does that make it any different than you walking around town and meeting someone for an hour at the same grocery store? In fact, my interactions actually mean a little more than the people who are your “friends” from school. Now what most people don’t understand is the immense amount of self immersion into a video game. I mean, when I enter a game I get lost in the colors and the bright visualizations of the characters and the complicated plots of the story line and side quests. Players are no longer players, but people that will either hinder or assist me in my journey to complete my objective. Consider the mind of a painter. When he/she sits down to concoct their masterpiece, most of the time, they have no clue as to how they are going to start and they simply let their imagination run with it. In a sense it runs parallel with the interaction of a player and the game. Much like the concept in Gamer Theory, people forget who they are, or more precisely who they are supposed to be when they play a game. Most have no clue what they want to do when they start and they probably start to use their own lives to influence how they play the game. They get caught up in the lore and the objectives that they sometimes have a hard time remembering that they are supposed to eat (or in my case, take out the trash…) So, of course I was the same way and I had the constant reminder from my parents that I needed to find something to do with my life.

Remember, my fellow gamers: life isn’t like a box of chocolates. Rather, its just a heart-shaped box full of nothing, waiting to be filled with whatever magical mana-boosting candies you could imagine.

~~D3LTA04 (Chris Davis)

Nerd Cred and the Gateway MMO

One year, when I was still in elementary school, my mother found that she needed advice. Dad’s birthday was coming up, and she simply did not know what to get him. So, being the kind and thoughtful person she is, she phoned Uncle Pat, one of Dad’s best friends, for some help. “Try Everquest,” he said. “I’ve got it and it’s a lot of fun. I think he’d like it.”

After that, our lives were never the same.

Mom unknowingly went down to the store and picked up what I like to call the gateway drug of MMOs, and much to her dismay, both of her daughters and her husband have been hooked ever since. Though I never played Everquest myself, I enjoyed watching my dad play. To my eight-year-old mind it looked like a movie, but you were the main character! It was YOU who got to slay monsters and explore a new world and outfit yourself with armor befitting a great hero. When I got a little older, I stepped into the online worlds of Guild Wars, SWG, and others, and never looked back.

I think, because I grew up with games, I have learned how to not let them affect me too much. I have an ‘rl’ life much larger than the one I have online, and never let a game release get in the way of homework. I’m also pretty picky about which games I like, so I’ve never had to watch my spending either. It’s the way I present my gaming to the world at large that has always required delicacy. Mostly it’s a matter of who I’m talking to. When asked what writing seminar I was taking by a fellow first-year, I would say, “The one where we get to play video games for class.” Though this is somewhat inaccurate, it allowed me to not only avoid the social stigma of the ‘online gamer’ but to arouse jealousy in the questioner, who usually had a seminar in the wonderful and captivating field of British War Writing. With my friends, however, I could brag all I wanted about the fact that not only was my homework to watch The Fellowship of the Ring, I got to play LotRO for college credit. It’s all about the audience. Not everyone responds to the same things.

That’s not to say that I am not proud to be a nerd, a geek, or a sci-fi aficionado. I just know how to balance them so that those on the outside (you know, the normal people. There’s one! Did you see him?) can still be friends with me–whether or not they speak Klingon (just for the record, I HAVE NEVER STUDIED KLINGON–seriously). Though gaming is one of my favorite things to do, it’s not all I do, nor is it ever all anyone does. If anything, gaming this semester has merely given me extra nerd cred with my high school friends, and made some classmates green with envy. So why is there even a stigma associated with gaming? I could go on all day on that, but, it’s another post.

May the Force be with you!

Dacia