It may come as a surprise to readers of this site to learn that I am, in fact, a gamer. While not partaking of casual entertainment such as comics, books, movies and the like, I might often be found rolling up some 20s with the crew, throwing down with some double dash, or enjoying a heroic afternoon in Azeroth!
I tend, as a gamer, to invest myself in the accoutrements of the genres. I don’t just play the games – I often buy the books, read the novels, unlock the hidden levels. I explore the lore behind the games, find the best combos, and assemble the most powerful deck of them all! So it goes.
One of the other things that I have often done, however, to my both expected and yet inevitable downfall… is to enter the realm of gaming forums.
I had thought, long ago, when I braved the den of the White Wolf, that I had seen things at their worst. The angst, the drama, the despair – cold and black like all men’s souls. I saw the dangers, and wisely turned away.
Time passed, and I walked into the Wizard’s Lair, and I learned again the depth of man’s descent. Senseless arguments, countless rules and regulations, and a desperate flight from any common sense – these things drove me away, and all was well with the world.
Yet more time has come and gone, and I have now seen sights that have scarred me to the soul. The discussion board of Azeroth – a more wretched hive of scum and villainy have I never seen. And yet, I cannot turn away.
With every day I glance at the pages within that board, a little piece of me dies inside. My faith in mankind is shattered whole – and the remaining bits then ground into dust and ashes.
In a full page of posts on the General Discussion area, I counted a single post offering useful information, and a single post asking a reasonable question. I counted no less than 17 posts demanding unreasonable changes to the game, 8 posts that were blatant trolling, 3 posts on the same topic that was answered in a sticky at the top, and one post advertising gold farming.
It worries me. I enjoy playing this game. I do my best to moderate my time at it, knowing well the dangers of an MMORPG. I know lots of fine folk in this game, and enjoy playing with them. I know many and sundry intelligent and reasonable players!
And yet, in this community of fellow gamers, I find nothing but the detritus of the earth.
In another area, a gamer makes a thread to track current progress on the most powerful boss available in the game. He makes a simple plea, for people to treat the thread seriously, rather than turn it into yet another repetition meme, and instead only gave serious posts.
Of the fifty-one replies, twelve are verbatim copies of the specific meme he gave as an example of what people should not use. Five are variations on the meme – including translating it into german, and chinese. Eight are various other memes, including a random reference to “Snakes on a Plane.” Seventeen are arbitrary responses to each other, and to the trolling attempts.
One is a reference to the Great Gatsby. Four are follow-ups to it.
Only two are genuine answers to the question, while there is one post proclaiming the failure of the thread, and one post simply explaining why making such a request in these forums is doomed to abysmal failure.
Now, I am not naive. I am aware of the fact that there is a problem with the internet. I am aware that there are places where attempting to find genuine information is asking for a miracle.
What I cannot understand is why I keep going back.
I can’t help it! Despite the bile that rises at the atrocities commited upon the english language, I keep reading. Sometimes my eye twitches. Sometimes my arm shakes. But I go from page after page, post after post. I no longer even know what I am looking for – useful knowledge, or just more horrible – fascinating – chaos.
I… I am afraid. I have stared into the abyss, and I cannot look away. It stares back at me… and it hungers.