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.
As much fun as forum drama can be, I find that the Order of the Stick forums are actually pretty, ya know, sane. There’s a lot of gaming discussion because, obviously, it’s a gaming comic. Better yet, it’s a gaming comic that doesn’t take the game that seriously. Have you ever looked there?
I have found webcomic forums to be, by and large, havens of reason. (With some exceptions withstanding.)
I was a longtime browser of the It’s Walky, and had been thoroughly impressed by the respect shown to all posters, the shared community spirit, and the participation of Willis himself.
I’ve been to the OotS forums a time or two, and there is definitely good stuff there. The only thing I was taken aback by was the harsh guidelines against speculation – but I can somewhat understand the reasons why.
I don’t entirely agree with the perspective that a writer must feel the need to change their plot if it is guessed in advance, but I suppose thats a discussion for another time.