The world is a fascinating place, full of wonders and diversity. I never cease to find ways to enjoy my time here, and the fact that one day I will be dead and at peaceful rest only serves to enhance my love of the time I've been given to explore this strange and marvellous planet.
Although I try to make my peace with everything as best I can, it's difficult to do so with fantatics, those so deeply ensconced in their own belief systems (whether scientific, religious or otherwise) that they suffer cognitive dissonance almost constantly, and must engage in curiously aggressive and hostile behaviours to alleviate this internal pressure.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the murky depth of the gaming internet, where there are a seemingly endless supply of people who are so utterly convinced that their nervous system is better tuned to the universe than anyone else's that anyone who expresses a contrary viewpoint must be wrong.
Perhaps I am being unfair. Perhaps the violent exchanges of flame wars in forums and the like are really harmless agonistic sparring between people who enjoy argument fervantly, and enjoy the chance to test their verbal mettle against others. I'm certainly not against people having the freedom to do what they choose; I have no issue with consensual activities of any kinds, from prostitution, recreational chemicals to politics - do what thou wilt, just remember that you must also take responsibility for whatever it is you choose to do. If these arguments really are consensual, then they have my blessing - although leave me out of it, please.
What frustrates me, however, is the nagging sense that there is some underlying intelligence behind all this bellicose posturing. And it makes me wonder just how much distributed mental bandwidth is being sqaundered on petty bickering that could be being put to work helping us make better games.
As a professional game designer, I simply can't get enough information about what people enjoy about games, what annoys them, and especially how they go about playing the games they choose to play. This stuff is gold dust, and I'm eternally grateful for blogs like Tea Leaves and their ilk that do a great job of expressing opinions about the play of various different games. That the opinions are sometimes ascerbically worded is neither here nor there - we all have to blow of steam from time to time - the point is, they are coherently expressed opinions by players about the games they have played.
But unfortunately, most discussion about games on the internet is not of such a high standard. In fact, the vast majority of it seems to fit the following script:
[Game name] is the worst [game genre] ever! It doesn't even [do something that another game I enjoyed did]. No-one should play [game name] and anyone who likes [game name] is an idiot. I can't believe there are so many idiots who like [game name!]
That's total [expletive]! How could you make such a stupid mistake as [liking/not liking] [game name]! You're an idiot! I can't believe how stupid you are!
So predictable are these formats that all communications of this kind are effectively free from information. Apart from allowing for an eruption of emotion from the person responsible for writing it, they seem completely without value.
Perhaps I am optimistic, to dream of a gaming community that uses their manifold talents and skills to share information and viewpoints; to discuss the finer points of games and game design; to debate with each other about different possible approaches and their merits and costs; to talk about what they'd like to see, or like to see more of; in essence, to support game development with their talents and insights instead of fighting valueless verbal wars, full of sound and fury but signifying nothing.
We will all die one day. Our time is short, and we should enjoy every minute of life that is given to us - a gift from the great unknown. We are especially blessed, those of us that live in countries where the denizens have adequate shelter, plenty of food and a decent life expectancy - where we are so surrounded by manifest blessings that we not only have many entertaining games to play, but the time to enjoy them, and to enjoy talking about them.
Let no-one sqaunder so precious a gift.