“We have the power to hold no opinion about a thing and to not let it upset our state of mind—for things have no natural power to shape our judgments.”Marcus Aurelius, MEDITATIONS 6.52
This topic has always been increasingly polarizing, especially with the conversation surrounding “real gamers” and “gatekeeping.” I aim to tackle this topic in my own opinion, and from my perspective as one that has played video games for over 30 years.
First of all, let’s get out of the way that the term “gamer” is not a class of people, nor is it a title worth putting on a resume or business card of any kind. To call oneself a “gamer” gives no extra clout or respect in the “gaming world,” or even outside it, so to use the term as a form of elevated status compared to others is useless. There is no gamer hierarchy, and no leveling system or promotions within it to give you any sort of status or arrogance. As much as the gaming culture likes to call itself “inclusive” and “welcoming,” when it comes to discussions within it, it is anything but.
For example, the recent release of Elden Ring has sparked controversy worldwide as being extremely difficult for some, which has warranted the discussion if it needs an “easy mode” because many players are unable to stomach the difficulty. It has even warranted a comment from creator Hidetaka Miyazaki feeling apologetic about many players not being able to experience Elden Ring. I am in the middle of the controversy surrounding this title, having played it and put it down because it is not for me. Many of you reading this may claim that maybe I’m not good at it (I’m not) and I have no desire to “get good” (I don’t), and I will tell you to take a long walk off a short pier.
If someone is not enjoying a game that you thoroughly enjoy, why should that matter to you? Why should that even warrant a comment or an insult? You don’t have to have an opinion on everything in this world, so why not shrug that sentiment off and move on? It is because of this obsession on having an opinion about someone else’s point of view is why we can’t have “discussions” about it. It can even be liberating in a sense if you don’t care about what others think, especially if it doesn’t apply to you personally, or advances your judgments as a person, as Marcus Aurelius said in the quote at the beginning of this piece.
In terms of players feeling FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) over Elden Ring, or any game that feels it’s gatekeeping them as a matter of fact, get over it. Not every game is made for you, and not every game can be tailored to your needs and feelings. Titles like Elden Ring (or any Souls-Borne-like game for that matter) aren’t designed for everyone’s tastes and skill levels, so drop the entitlement in that your needs matter to developers like From Software. Don’t take your anger out on those who are enjoying the game because you’re upset over not being able to enjoy it. As stated before, you do not have to have an opinion on this game if you are not enjoying it. Move on to something else.
Video games are designed with the developers’ specific ideas and mechanics in mind, and they understand fully it is impossible to please everyone. They shouldn’t even try to, they need to understand that when they create a product like a video game, not everyone will enjoy it and/or understand it. If they’re afraid of that, then they shouldn’t be in video game development in the first place. Miyazaki shouldn’t feel apologetic in the least bit about players not being able to enjoy his game. He shouldn’t apologize for creating something, Miyazaki should, if anything, double down and say “this game is not for you, and that’s ok.”
Your enjoyment of a game doesn’t warrant insults or crude remarks to others who do not. Since when does someone’s opinion on a piece of media or fiction require a reaction from you? Guess what; it doesn’t. You don’t need an opinion on it, move on. You most likely will enjoy the game more as a result, since you don’t care if others view it negatively. Being good at difficult games doesn’t warrant chest pumping comments on Twitter, and putting down those that can’t advance like you have. If anything, those attitudes and viewpoints make you look like an arrogant school-yard bully.
This term called “gatekeeping” I feel is a fake and socially constructed psychological block others put on themselves to excuse why they can’t enjoy things others are enjoying.
“But if others are enjoying it and advancing, and I’m not. It’s not my fault, clearly the game should have been designed around me instead!”
Not everyone enjoys anchovies. Are you going to attack anchovies because you don’t like them? Then don’t attack From Software or any other video game developer over alleged gatekeeping. They didn’t make the game for you, deal with it. Most times, video games are not made for you, and you need to accept that. You shouldn’t attack developers as a result of it, claiming they aren’t including you in this “exclusive club.”
These arguments back and forth need to stop. They don’t contribute to this so-called inclusiveness the gaming world claims and further polarizes us into fake titles like “true gamer” or a “pleb”, which is a derogatory term used for players who do not possess a so-called intelligence when it comes to tackling high skill video games. Just shut up and enjoy your game. And if you’re not enjoying a game, move on to something else, I guarantee there are tons of titles out there for you. Both sides need say nothing against each other.
Are you over this discourse like I am? Comment below, or join our Discord using the QR code, or the link here and join the conversation!