Fraser MacInnes loves games. It's just gamers he can't stand
Where are our Renaissance players?
He's now working for Danke Games, a gaming start-up based in the heart of the Black Forest in Germany.
Let's get the hard part out of the way.
Gamers are jerks.
Yep, you heard me correctly, I'm hadukening the pixels out of the hand that feeds me, but before you click away in rage, hear me out.
When I started working in the games industry, I - like so many before me and since - was greener than an army surplus store.
Not only was I naive, I was an idealist.
I believed gamers were united; champions of the medium and the broad possibilities it holds. I imagined gamers to be modern day Renaissance types, excited and inspired by profound shifts in technology and philosophy.
As it turns out, (much to my chagrin) not everyone who is passionate about games is Jane McGonigal.
Maybe I've been unlucky, but if I had to describe the kind of gamer I have encountered most often over the past eight years, I'd describe a brittle, 30-something Luddite with a towering inferiority complex and a 20-year old's love of bongs and feeble-minded conspiracy theories.
(And even more pervasively, they're male.)
The path to enlightenment is... dark
Gaming, despite its synonymity with technology and the arts, is not a medium that broadens and enlightens so much as polarizes and entrenches its most dedicated patrons.
After establishing a mutual interest in gaming, I have bounded cheerfully into many conversations, only to find that the other person's enthusiasm isn't for gaming as a broad and emerging medium, but merely for a narrow clutch of game titles.
These games, (which tend to be hardcore shooters and MMOGs), represent the exclusive and unassailable validation of the medium to these people, and anything else is regarded as a pitiable and doomed attempt to sully their hobby.
Almost always, some day they are going to be a game designer, with their own studio. They are going to make the most amazing games ever, but they can't tell you their big idea because you will steal it. *Sigh.
This issue is never more in focus than right before the launch of a new generation of consoles. All of a sudden, you are either a part of the 'real gamer' master race, or you're not.
This is also a time when gamers believe that putting in countless gaming hours every week qualifies them to wax lyrical on complex hardware architecture, banding around terms like floating point calculations, teraflops, and hyper threading with all of the associated numbers and none of the requisite technical knowledge to understand what any of them mean.
Some more broad generalizations...
But I'm only scratching the surface on why gamers are jerks.
How often have you heard the expression 'as progressive as a gamer'?
An addendum to the previous description of the gamer I have most often encountered over the past eight years, is that they are also sexist, homophobic, and racist, or any combination of those three (usually especially the first two).
It's amazing that for a medium which has suffered so many identity crises (how often has 'gamer' been a byword for nerd, socially maladjusted or overgrown child?), and which has strived so hard to be accepted as a part of an average consumer's entertainment diet, that its die-hard proponents are so unwelcoming.
Stereotypes are seldom flattering, and of course my average gamer genotype as described is perhaps a gross over simplification of what has become a complex demographic.
It's disheartening, however, to continually come up against the old guard of gamers who regard everything as being viewed via a hierarchy, with custom liquid-cooled rigs running modded versions of Eve Online at the top, and smartphones running Burrito Bison at the bottom.
A gentler way
Because, for me, mobile gaming is a big part of the maturation of the medium.
It's an area that attracts and nurtures those Renaissance types I used to imagine.
It's a relatively democratic and experimental place, where inclusivity and fun are more important than arguments about Carl Sagan's ties to secret US Mars bases, and how many simultaneous shaders the PlayStation 4 can handle.
If that's you, don't mistake your arrogance for passion.
Citing a passion for gaming as a justification for drawing pointless divisions and obtusely ignoring important developments falls under the label of 'being a jerk'.
And so does writing articles about gamers being jerks. I can't win - except at hadukening the pixels out of you. HADUKEN!
You can follow Fraser's industry commentary via Twitter.