Later, I was hospitalized for asthma. I was breathing out of a tube in the wall, and while my parents visited me, I was often alone. Luckily, they wheeled in a TV with a Nintendo Entertainment System. For sure, I'd rather have been breathing under my own power, but it made my time in the hospital less scary. It's that experience that would later lead me to support Child's Play, a charity that puts toys and games in children's hospitals, so that kids everywhere can feel a little less scared while they're healing.
The charity was the brainchild of Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, best known as the creators of Penny Arcade. Their action helped redeem the gaming community in the eyes of society at large. Gone now are the frothy-mouthed rantings of Jack Thompson. Indeed, the narrative has flipped completely. Prominent researchers are now saying that games are good for you.
Their other great accomplishment is PAX, which is for many of us summed up in a word: home. Last year, it came to the East Coast for the first time, and I was in attendance. It was, in short, awesome. While many other conventions of its sort are commercial enterprises centered on hyping games and getting gamers to part with their money. Not true with PAX. PAX is a community of gamers who are there to play games with each other. And at that, it's one of the more inclusive spaces in the gaming community.
However, recent events have led many to feel less welcome. Here is a timeline of events. It's not the comic itself that has so many of us upset. It's the boorish response from the creators and their defenders that served to make reasonable critiques invisible. And encouraged some high-grade dickery, taken to the most extreme in those who have vowed to show up to the con wearing shirts that say "Team Rape." As a result, many people-- some of my friends included-- to no longer feel welcome at PAX. Which sucks, because PAX is truly special and everyone should have the ability to enjoy it.
We're better than this. I know because I've been there. I've seen people at PAX receive prizes worth hundreds of dollars only to immediately return them and request that they be put up for auction to benefit Child's Play. There is a culture in PAX-- and in gaming at large-- that is conducive to being changed for the better by the existence of good examples.
It is with this in mind that some friends of mine and I have founded Team Respect.
We're not quite sure what our long-term plans are. As of right now, we're encouraging those in the gaming community who don't like to hear it when their fellow gamers are inconsiderate of others, whether it be defiantly pledging be assholes to abuse survivors, or using "faggot" as a generic insult to stand up and declaim it. To say that we, as gamers-- as human beings-- won't stand for this.
And after that? Who knows? But right now, we're making a hard push to get the word out ahead of the convention on March 11th, and I'd ask everyone who reads this to pass it along to the gamers in their lives. It's time to take our culture back.
Convince one mind at a time to cleave to the spirit of Wheaton's Law, which is to say, "Don't be a dick."