Video Games, Kids, and Microphones

I’ll start this blog post off with a story… (well first some back story, to paint the scene for you, then the story)

I have a strange work schedule. I work the night shift for a month, then I work the day shift for a month. On the months I’m working the night shift, I try to find things to do on my days off while I’m sitting up at 3am, that are quiet enough not to wake up the rest of my family. Well, video games seemed to be the right fit, as long as I used a headset so that the sound came directly to my head and not out of the speakers. Viola! Quiet, entertaining, killed lots of time this way. My headset has a microphone on it too. I never used the mic, well not at first. I discovered the world of online game play, and thought it was a pretty good time. I started using the mic to talk to teammates on shooter games. I did this for a while when I was on the night shift. Well one night, I guess I got really into the game. I was playing with a group of guys, and we must have been winning a lot. I remember yelling out to them into the mic, discussing strategies and calling out enemy positions. “Run! Behind you! Around that corner, theres a sniper! Yea! Good shot!” all sorts of carrying on, blurting out into the mic with both my ears covered. You know that feeling that there is someone standing behind you? I experienced that sensation for a second, right before my wife pulled one side of the earphones away from my head and yelled, “stop yelling! You’re being way too loud!” My mic was still on and all my teammates heard her scold me. One of my teammates says, “dude, that guys mom sounds mad!”

This blog post is more of an observation followed by a question. Here’s the observation. There are tons of kids playing games online. I know kids as young as 8 that play online shooter games. While I do feel the content of the games themselves is questionable for a kid so young, that’s not my focus here. I figure, that horse has been kicked to death several times over. There are also adults playing them too. Fewer adults than kids I think, but young and old alike, the vast majority of them with mics just talk so much trash to one another! There is so much profanity and bullying, and plain old trash talk going on. There is a mute button that you can push to mute anyone who you don’t care to hear anymore. My observation is that it seems everyone goes out and gets these mics with every intention to trash talk each other. All out rudeness and cutting down going on everywhere, left and right! Now don’t take me for a stick in the mud, or a fuddie duddie (try as I might, I couldn’t find a way to spell that without getting the red squiggly line). In a competitive environment there is going to be some trash talk. I get that, and I think it can be done in an okay way. That’s not the same as what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is more like bullying, for lack of a better word.

Now I fully realize that online gaming is not a preferred realm for someone to venture into with the intention of spreading the gospel and witnessing to nonbelievers (although it could be grounds for a new ministry now that I think about it). But here’s my question. Why is it that when a person, regardless of age, gets an opportunity to say something to a group of people that he/she will probably never meet, and doesn’t even have to show their face, or even own what they say, they choose to say something negative, or hurtful or use vulgar language? Forget that its in a video game chat room, it could be anywhere, over the Internet or in discussion boards. Remember old chat rooms of the 90’s before every computer had a video camera on it? Oh my land! The goings on in those chat rooms would make you want to cover your dogs eyes! What is it about us, is it psychological? Is it the devil working in us? When we get to converse with total strangers whom we will never meet, and we get to reinvent ourselves to them for that moment, we can be who ever we want for that time, why are so many of us driven to be as dirty as we can possibly be?

I think that in today’s society it takes more gull to be in that situation and actually be encouraging to others, be uplifting, and have positive things to say. Not just in the gaming scene, I mean anywhere that you don’t have to show your face. Anyone can be rude and obnoxious, it seems to me that being positive to others is more of a rarity than being discouraging anymore. I work in a setting where people can say practically whatever they want to each other. There’s no customers, we aren’t in the public eye, so what comes out of our mouths does nothing, negative or positive, to directly affect business. In a situation like that, what do you think I hear more of, uplifting friendly conversations, or rude stabs, vulgar jokes, and put downs? Honestly, I’d settle for neutrality. I don’t need encouragement. I hardly ever play games online anymore, but if I did, I’d love to hear a kid yell out at the end of a team match, “great game guys! You guys are really good! That was a tough fight!” It’s almost comical to think of, and anyone who plays on-line games may even be laughing at that, but that’s what I mean. You get more static from people for being that way, than for being rude. So, why are so many driven to be rude and vulgar when they don’t have to be held accountable for what they say? Feel free to share your thoughts.