The Burden and Responsibility of Anonymity

Gamers have always been a socially awkward crowd, as the thing they enjoy most, namely video games, requires them to focus their attention on a screen instead of another person. Growing up in the last throes of the Arcade Era, meant less and less interactivity between gamers as time went on. It was less common to see populated arcades, and they became more akin to ghost towns complete with tumbleweeds and coyotes. Only kidding. However when ever challengers were present, it was often a brief and cordial experience between total strangers. Most commonly this happened for fighting games, wherein two players controlled avatars engaged in brutal martial arts action until one emerges victorious. Being rude and impolite was out of the question, as you can never gauge the level of crazy you might be dealing with, and when considering the denizens of southern California in the nineties, or even now, it’s better to play it safe.

As video games evolved, the ability to play over the Internet meant those groups of gamers could compete in numbers previously thought impossible. However with the advent of the Internet, also came the anonymity which has proved to be too much for some gamers to handle. If you have ever played a popular first person shooter online such as Halo, Counter Strike, or Modern Warfare, then odds are you have experienced the rampant racism, sexism, and homophobia that streams out of the mouths of people. Such juvenile behavior represses not only gamers, but all people. All it takes is one moron with a microphone and grade school concept of society, to ruin an otherwise great online experience. Being able to hide behind the safety curtain of anonymity causes people to overreact to situations and lash out at strangers whom they feel inferior to. This insecurity runs rampant among the online gaming community, and is something that should be actively battled.

If your familiar with the hate speak that can be found in most online lobbies, you can imagine no one having the gall to behave that way if they were actually in the same room with the very people they were playing against. If you were playing shoulder to shoulder like you would in an arcade, and tried to tell the person you’re playing with/against that their grandma is performing various unspeakable sexual acts with, on, or near Hitler, the odds of getting into a real fight would skyrocket. However, online there is no threat of someone tracking down where you live because you flamed them for being so bad at a game, so the reigns of social etiquette are considered to be thrown out of the window.

Anonymity is a responsibility as much as it is a burden. Although it is unrealistic to think all participants in online video games are capable of having a mature sense of tolerance or dignity, that doesn't mean that those of us who are capable should just mute these players and ignore them. Every player can make a difference, by working with administrators to ban and flag players who actively sabotage the communal aspect of gaming, then gamers can make progress towards being a better respected community. As opposed to the ignorant and violent groups of delinquents that the media has advertised us as, we can reinforce the more sophisticated and artistic aspect of gaming culture that some of us pride ourselves on.

Some techniques that I employ when mingling online with other gamers via lobby screen, is to act as a host for the game, thanking all players for taking the time to get blown up and shot in the head (or whatever might be taking place in any given game). Mentioning any highlights of the match, or interviewing other players who have ranked highly for their prowess. Getting a dialogue going is a fun and surprising venture. Taking the spotlight first, I encourage other players to take a turn "on the mic” to act as a network of co-hosts to help entertain everyone during downtime between matches. If people like having you in their games, it will be easier to find a solid group of players who know how to interact like decent human beings ought to. Bad seeds will jump at the chance to have their long winded opinions about why certain people "suck and should die", and should be handled with swift action. Being able to quickly weed out players who lacks proper sportsmanship is paramount to making the gaming scene a legitimate one, instead of a laughable one.

focus

sitting in an empty house, staring blankly ahead, trying to remain as out of focus as possible, like Bigfoot. maybe if i become blurry enough, everything else around me will become clearer. the people who we don't tell the truth to, become the ones who appreciate our honesty the most. what the fuck is wrong with people? the whole lot of them equate to a mess of lies, shambling around like they have nothing to hide or lose. what is the point, really? knowledge is power they say. yeah fucking right. knowing to keep my mouth shut leaves me feeling more irradiated than the nuclear fallout of an atomic bomb. would things be any different if i spoke up, if i defended the moral high ground? probably not. a different fallout would infect some other part of me no doubt and super mutants would run rampant across the wastelands looking for another human meal.
so you sit, you stew, you think about the two sides to every coin, and you try to not let it all be too much to fathom, to not let cosmos boss you around to and fro like your some third grade loser getting his/her shitty sandwiches kicked over the fence by bullies, to pretend you can exercise some control over your life, to make sure you won't make the same mistakes in the future, to wonder why you never said what you wanted, to do so many things that you probably won't end up doing. who has the time?

Anna

During my brief visit to Nicaragua, many years ago, I met numerous cousins that I had never met before. Anna was one of my cousins and a pretty young woman who must have been in her early twenties, at the latest. Anna was just over five feet tall, with the shoulder length black hair that made her blend into a crowd with ease. She was pretty, maybe that helped to bridge the language barrier, as it is always easier to smile at an attractive person, even if you're not sure what they are talking about. During the reunion, we had a nice conversation that wasn't impeded by the mingling going on between all the adults. We enjoyed some drinks, shared a few laughs, and had a nice time. If we had lived near each other we might have even been friends, maybe going to the same schools. As my vacation was drawing to a close, several people began the process of saying their goodbyes to my family, and she inevitably had her turn as well.

Being all smiles and friendly nods, my acting skills were in full force as I tried my best to pretend that I understood the wisdom being dispensed from every corner. Despite the chaos of heartfelt goodbyes, and last minute pleas to "remember the family when famous", Anna pulled me aside into a room with privacy. Something was clearly wrong, and she was a stammering mess of short gasps. Soon the tears were flowing down her cheek, and I had yet to say a word. She stood under me, gathered herself, and began to express how happy she was to have met me. Wanting to make sure that I understood this was paramount to her, she reiterated this point to me with various phrases in order to make sure I understood. This was helpful because my Spanish skills were no where near her abilities. Telling her I felt the same way, comforting her was difficult for some reason. As if being kind was more difficult in another language than it was in English, which clearly isn't true. Her goodbye began to transform into a confession.

She began to tell me that she was worried of other members of the family telling me bad things about her. True things. Things she never specified. And as I hadn't heard one word about her, negative or otherwise, left me positively clueless as to what she might have been talking about. Being terrified at the notion that I might leave the country with a malicious opinion of her was clearly breaking her heart. Letting her know that nothing of the sort had occurred, she calmed down a bit and was clearly relieved. My opinion of her mattered so much that it drove her to tears, and that made me feel horrible. Wanting to tell her that it wouldn't matter what I thought of her, because at that moment there were no plans of me ever returning. Maybe she would find some respite in hearing that, cementing our nice time together in a kind of blissful permanence. The only memory of her I would have was one of an honest connection between two kind young people. And nothing could ever change that. Right at that moment, any form of eloquence escaped me.

Reassuring Anna that I would leave the country with only the nicest thoughts of her, we bade each other farewell. Staring into each others eyes, we hugged, sighed, and never saw each other again. I still don't remember her actual name.

CongLaturations Riverside! You suck!

http://www.forbes.com/2010/04/28/polluted-cities-smog-lifestyle-health-american-lung-association-ozone_slide_26.html

My home town of Riverside California is the worst city in America for Ozone Pollution, according to Forbes anyway.
Who the fuck reads that?
Butt seriously, I should try and fart less.

iArriba!

Today is Cinco De Mayo, but I don't really care. I'm not Mexican but I am Latino, so the universe finds ways to inform me of such every year, with the fifth of May. Honestly I had a better time yesterday, since it was May 4th, and that was Star Wars day!

May the 4th be with you!

Something about wookie co-pilots, asteroid field chase sequences, and light sabers, just resonates with me on a much bigger level, then being Hispanic. There is probably a meaning for the holiday, like some catholic saint decided to save the world of all used Kleenex's that day, and we now call it cinco de mayo, or some such nonsense. but if we're choosing nonsense to celebrate, put mine in outer space, any day.