Yea, we’re all sick of the drama. We’re sick of things that have little to do with gaming, with esports, polluting both. We’re sick of it being used as a battleground for things that should be external to it, or at least used to be.
Well, things have changed.
Yet, you expect things to be exactly the same as before, when ops in an IRC channel with 100 people was a big deal; when Munoz had yet to permanently inflate his own self worth by showing up on MTV; when you had to know someone with deep pockets if you wanted to stream. (Whatchu know ‘bout Windows Media Encoder?) You could say what you wanted. Nobody cared about your racial slurs, because nobody was watching. You could equate all women to first-graders, and not take flak for it. Everyone enjoyed a good rape joke, not to mention that it was the go-to descriptor for good play.
But under a constant drumbeat of “bigger, bigger, bigger; make esports bigger” – here we are. Bigger. Esports is as mainstream as anything when the top-rated late-night talk show only commands an audience of a million people.
And when you seek to include more people, millions more people – when that is the raison d’être for years and years – it can only follow that once those people come on board, and the people under the tent are now vastly more diverse, you must also become more inclusive. Arguing that everyone should feel absolutely free to carry on in front of throngs of Twitter followers and Twitch viewers as if it were still just you and your ten homogenous buddies in a Ventrilo channel tearin’ it up is the exact opposite of common sense.
Isn’t that what is being called for? Common sense? Awareness of context? An order of magnitude less drama?
Then wake the fuck up. And maybe speak less. The context has changed; permanently if we’re lucky. You’re not alone with your bros anymore, particularly on Twitter, where every last thing you say is immediately browsable by the world. Even if your account is private, it just takes one person to screencap and tweet again.
So maybe stop tweeting rape jokes.
Look, I’m not trying to be the morality police, or tell you what you can and can’t say amongst your friends. I’m just trying to illustrate the reality of today’s scene. Everyone who follows esports isn’t your friend. Esports has become a big deal, and if you’re a big name in esports, you’re now a public figure. That comes with the responsibility of being judicious with what you say in public. Like it or not, complain all you want about how it’s not what you signed up for, it’s part of the deal.
You now have to care if the flippant shit you say offends people. And if that’s too much to ask, then step back into the shadows where you can’t be said to represent esports to any significant extent. Its hardly about bowing to a lowest common denominator. It’s about being our best selves, everyday; and recognizing when we haven’t met that bar, so that everything that everyone has worked for isn’t diminished by things that were better left unsaid.