Cold Dark Heart

Cold Dark Heart
Curing the Noobonic Plague

Bryan Lufkin | 3 Aug 2010 12:59
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Imagine, for a moment, that you're someone who's begun gaming as a hobby only recently. Maybe you've played Guitar Hero at a party, or Spyro to appease any children you once babysat - but over the past few years, you've Bejeweled your way through the Friday afternoon doldrums at the office, and recently graduated to playing Brain Age or Tetris when you bought a DS. Next thing you know, you've downloaded Super Mario Bros. for the Virtual Console, and have spent hours of your Saturday experiencing something that many people discovered during the Reagan administration.

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But you're stuck. You're playing level 8-3, and for the life of you, you can't outmaneuver those Hammer Brothers. You need some guidance. You need to see somebody else do it, just to know that it's possible. And so, turning to your computer, you consult the internet, the panacea for any personal dilemma.

Just as you predicted, you find the video you're looking for on YouTube. It's a tutorial that shows someone clearing the level with finesse. You feel excited and empowered ... until you notice some of the user comments. Scanning them, you start to feel a bit deflated, even insulted. They might look something like these comments that I've copied and pasted (and censored) from various gaming tutorials on the website:

Umm there's one [a shortcut] in DK Mountain. You f***ing suck noob.

lol Anyone who doesn't know these secretes are either: (A) Under the age of 20, (B)Never played a NES before or (C)A complete idiot.

I am sick and tired of hearing and seeing same crap on and on, on youtube which is already been done thousand times by others. You know what, I too can play Super Mario.

[Part of a 24 comment exchange] OMFG YOU I-D-I-O-T. GET THE F***ING GOLD F***ING TROPHY IN SPECIAL CUP 150CC YOU THEN U-N-L-O-C-K MIRROR MODE. How RETARDED are you?!?!?!?! This is the 3rd time I have said this, it can't get any clearer, how about you Google it dumb f***.

Wow, why are these people so freaking condescending? Don't they know who you are? In the words of Will Ferrell, you "are a division manager, drive a Dodge Stratus and can do 100 push-ups in twenty minutes!" You'll be damned if someone bites your head off for a simple question about Bullet Bills. One thing is clear: You, as a casual gamer, lack knowledge that seems to be part of a collective consciousness among a specific group of people. Thus, you are an outsider. You are a potential target for ridicule and remarks that can be, at times, downright hateful.

The internet is filled with hate, and it's certainly not limited to the gaming community. But it seems that some of the rudest, most arrogant feedback on the net can come from gamers, especially those who self-identify as "hardcore." In contrast, the other day, I perused YouTube for instructional guitar videos and, seeing as I'm not Jimmy Page, these were tutorials of moderate difficulty, at most. Yet I never saw comments like, "Who doesn't know how to play this?" Nobody told me the triangle would be more my speed. Nobody miffed, mortified or mocked.

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