“Online-enabled voice chat” has become my biggest videogame turnoff ever; I’d rather spend the next three days of my life whacking at overlarge forest rats with my Stick of Beating than listen to a fourteen year-old’s desperate insistence that I’m a.) a faggot, b.) a nigger or c.) a faggot-ass nigger for five minutes. Kotaku interviewed a couple of mental health professionals who revealed the obvious: it’s about the power dynamics at play, and there’s a common dynamic whereby many young white men feel most empowered by reducing everyone they encounter to demeaned scum.
The post discusses methods of dealing with the abuse, which basically focus on ignoring it and/or calling out the psychology behind the epithets. But what I’m more interested in is why the need for dominance so readily expresses itself in sexual and racial terms, particularly when such terms would be completely anathema in real life. It’s not just shitty trash talk, aggression when your everyday life calls for restraint. It’s wholesale cultural warfare, lived out through commandos, space commandos and other forms of fantasy and/or science-based commandos.
It’s striking how much the politics of cultural resentment resemble the feelings of constant victimization that accompany puberty. If you’re asking whether or not this means the Corner is a glorified reliving of the angry kids in your high school who read the first hundred pages of The Fountainhead and refused to smoke not because it was bad for them, but because it was the vice of their intellectual inferiors (read: people that were actually liked by others), then yes. Yes, it is exactly that. The blame and hatred that occurs here isn’t just about meaningless abuse, it’s about a very meaningful form of abuse that lumps together and transfers a set of real-life cultural grievances, transferred and taught, onto what functions as far more than just a game for the people in the abuser’s seat. The irony is that, despite the anger, it’s precisely because the targeted groups are so inherently powerless over a white male majority that they feel so free to heap abuse on whoever comes their way.
Reactionary social conservatism may not be best explained through the backlash to civil rights movements of the past 50 years, the rise of Ronald Reagan or Rush Limbaugh’s call queue, but instead the nastier end of a Counter-Strike tournament.