Vault Boy from Fallout looking angry

Hatred Within the Video Game Community

I’m so proud of being part of the video game community. Like many of you, video games are more than just a hobby – they’re a way of life. We use gaming for personal enjoyment and to connect with friends and family across the world. It bridges gaps created by differing languages, religions, genders and races, and when approached with acceptance, it can lay the foundation for beautiful relationships. This is the community I fell in love with, though recent events have had me feeling a little bitter.

Since I started creating content, I’ve never faced real hostility or hate, but it’s never too hard to find. Recently, one of my favorite podcasts was cancelled; Fireside Chats, an eclectic interview series by Colin Moriarty. For those who don’t know Colin Moriarty, he’s a veteran of the video game industry – an IGN alumni, part founder of Kinda Funny, and now the creator of Colin’s Last Stand. He’s been the target of much vitriol since… well, forever. His political views and straight shot attitude has always put him in the crosshairs of gaming media, especially after his infamous “joke” that caused his departure from Kinda Funny.  People have not been kind.

On August 12th, 2019, Colin published a note on his Patreon page laying out the reasons for the show’s cancellation. Most notably, Colin details how it’s not safe for him to continue the show, as it is recorded at his home. The continuous ill will and threats that he receives over social media put himself and his loved ones at risk. From doxing of his employees and friends, to the total unpersoning of himself. I don’t really blame him for ending it.

This all comes off the coattails of the recent cancellation of his Sacred Symbols Panel at PAX West. Sacred Symbols is a PlayStation Podcast hosted by Colin Moriarty and Chris Ray Gun. After weeks of promotion, the panel was cancelled unexpectedly. Substantial reasons or real explanations have not been forthcoming, and the duo were understandably frustrated.

At the time of writing, no refunds have been offered to the guests who bought tickets specifically to see the Sacred Symbols panel. I understand that refunds generally aren’t expected, but even still, it’s a little slimy. When it became clear that PAX wouldn’t offer refunds, Colin took it upon himself to refund 20 people out of his own pocket. I have never, ever heard of anyone doing that. What’s even more amazing is how his community were more than willing to chip in and offer additional funds to help refund those who felt screwed over.

What disturbs me most is how the media and regular people continue to spew hate towards Colin and Chris, plus their fan base.  Moriarty’s fans are often pegged as ‘toxic’ and are ridiculed as such. Interestingly, hateful behavior is completely unacceptable within the “Colin’s Last Stand” community. You can see a tweet from Colin making this clear, and this is not the only time that he has expressed his distaste for this conduct:

Not only was there the threat of being harassed on the show floor simply for being there, but his fans are continuously being bullied. One tweet in particular states that if you see Moriarty on the show floor, spill a milkshake on him.

There’s also several posts on Reset Era cursing him and his fans out. Reset Era is not the most reputable source, but just takes a brief walkthrough Colin Moriarty’s Twitter feed and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Some major gaming media outlets seem to be totally okay with this. They shy away when it comes to Colin Moriarty and his fans being attacked.  No one cares that Colin has proven that he is nothing like they say he is time and time again. The headline is never as sexy as “Colin Moriarty is a raging racist”, yet when Colin made a terrible joke, some corners of the major media were ready with fire and pitchforks. No major publication ever writes articles how the “Colin’s Last Stand” fan base is constantly being harassed and bullied. The only ones that had anything to say about the PAX situation were Kotaku, though even that was written with cynicism and fueled by the current agenda.

I hold Colin and his content in very high regard. I love his shows, from the BEYOND days to everything that “Colin’s Last Stand” does. I think his knowledge about PlayStation and video games is remarkable. But, I’m not here to defend him – he doesn’t need me for that.  I want to talk about the hatred that brews within some corners of the video game community.  Hatred that comes to the forefront whenever someone doesn’t follow the crowd.  If I think differently than you, or have a different sense of humour, am I a bigot asshole? Do I deserve to be silenced? I fear that if I ever work within the industry in any capacity, I’ll be confronted with such hate.

Who remembers when video games weren’t cool?  Who has ever been bullied because they preferred to play Super Mario World over basketball?  Video games accepted us when we needed them to. They don’t judge; they don’t care about race, religion, or political views. Video games gave us a home when we didn’t have one. Sometimes it feels like gaming has become so popular that people are forgetting what it was like all those years ago.  We became the bullies. We reject people for not being “real gamers” or not giving Zelda Breath of the Wild a 10/10. We find people like Colin Moriarty and hate him viscerally because of his politics or because he unveils the ugly side of our community. We allow a stupid joke to determine everything about a person. We use the video game platform to humiliate and threaten one another.

I believe that the video game community should be the most accepting out of all entertainment medium fan bases. Was it not us who were once rejected by society? Were we not called dorks, or losers? How can we do that to others? When the role gets reversed, how can fail miserably? Why do we deny people a voice in our community over political views and ideologies?

I understand the implicit feeling to defend what we love but there has got to be a better way to do it. When people feel unsafe and question their security, a line must be drawn. Even if Colin Moriarty was everything some people say he is (which he is not), attacking and silencing him is not the answer. Hate never defeats hate.  If we hope to strive and grow stronger as a community, we must have patience and understanding.

I’m not saying be super-duper, lovey-dovey. No. I encourage you to argue, disagree, and slam on the table. Do it all. We should be passionate about what we love. What we shouldn’t be is hateful just because someone disagrees with us. Imagine living in a world where everyone agreed about everything; it would be terrible.  Our feelings and views deserve validation but so do those of others, even if they are radically different.

I understand that specifically with Colin Moriarty, many believe he preaches hate. After consuming hours and hours of his content, I find it hard to believe he is a bad person. Do I agree with everything he says? Barely, but I enjoy the challenge. His views often lack a certain sensitivity towards issues I find important, but I never get the impression that he is evil. He says stupid shit sometimes, but haven’t we all? It’s hard to believe that a person has lived a life without ever acting inappropriately, but should we let a moment of weakness or bad judgment define who we are forever?

I know that this is not everyone. I for one have encountered so many good people in this community. Since I started creating content, I have found a group of gamers that are kind, supportive and fun as hell. Hate is not everywhere, but it screams so much louder than kindness. Some gaming media outlets are fuelled by these type of headlines and jumping on bandwagons is easy. It gives instant validation and builds a sense of power that’s addicting but ultimately, it’s fleeting.

I challenge you with this: next time you see a tweet promoting hate, counter it with a tweet promoting kindness. Tweet your favorite developer for a job well done, or retweet when your most anticipated game goes gold. Balance it out – be the better person. If we want a healthy community filled with love and respect, we can’t fuel the hate. When we do it only creates more.

And remember, there’s a block button for a reason.