The last few years have been a very grim time for the gaming community. Between the large community movements and the internal conflict guided by various hash tags, gamers around the world have gotten stuck into a very awkward place. Heated competitions and debates online have grown accustomed into becoming catalysts to Swatting, harassment, and even some criminal activities.
It is something that I and many others would have never thought video games would be associated with on a daily basis. Yet all of this seems insubstantial compared to the scary bullet that everyone dodged at the 2015 Pokémon World Championships.
In case you didn’t read any of the stories published since the incident, here is some info to catch you up to date. Both Kevin Norton and James Stumbo, age 18 and 27 respectively, were arrested outside the venue to the Pokémon World Championships in Boston. The two of them were caught holding various weapons and ammo in their belongings after anonymous tips informed local police about comments they made online.
According to info from both the Pokémon Company and local police, the two men had boasted about bringing weapons to the event and joked about killing and injuring attendees over social media. Since their arrest, both Kevin and James have been sent to jail and are awaiting trial without bail. You can watch the video above from ReviewTechUSA for an even more detailed recap of the story.
While this was a scary thing for everyone in attendance, this is scarier to me for a number of other reasons. This is one of many situations to happen where gamers narrowly avoided a tragedy within the past few years. In addition, these sorts of situations originate from easily avoided conflict that could have dire consequences for the gaming community as a whole.
We now live in an age where the dumb behavior of one person can become the negative life-altering experience of another. What makes this more shameful is how most of the time it all starts with a simple difference in opinions.
It seems gamers online have inadvertently accepted being part of an aggressive online culture. We love to debate and we love picking a side in any sort of conflict. But at what point does our addiction to fierce competitiveness and clan mentality out-weigh our sense of virtue and rationality? When did disagreements and pride about video games open us up to a dark place that we’ve never been to before?
I can’t find the justification in prank-calling police in order to send a group of armed guards to raid a person’s home because of their opinion, or skills in online shooters. It saddens me to know that I may one day have to guard myself against short-fused individuals that would attempt something heinous because of opinions on video games. This isn’t because I would openly offend or provoke someone for any reason, but because they don’t see things my way.
So where does Pokémon fit into all of this? A game filled with the joy of adventure and friendship never meshes with concepts of real violence and tragedy. Nobody knows the real motivation for Kevin and James arriving at a gaming event prepared for warfare, but it’s necessary to ask ourselves some very important questions. What do we do when a video game event is not exempt from turning into a violent place where people can get hurt? What kind of people have we become when even Pokémon isn’t safe anymore?
These are questions that need answers. Answers that can only come from each us looking into the mirror and reevaluating the decisions we make. It’s something all of us, online and offline, could benefit a great deal from and make the gaming community something better than what it has become lately.
Have some thoughts of your own about the gaming community? Have a love for Pokémon? Leave us a comment below and let your voice be heard!!!