counter create hit The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture Is the Worst - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture Is the Worst

Availability: Ready to download

An avid gamer and sharp media critic explains meritocracy’s negative contribution to video game culture—and what can be done about it Video games have brought entertainment, education, and innovation to millions, but gaming also has its dark sides. From the deep-bred misogyny epitomized by GamerGate to the endemic malice of abusive player communities, gamer culture has had An avid gamer and sharp media critic explains meritocracy’s negative contribution to video game culture—and what can be done about it Video games have brought entertainment, education, and innovation to millions, but gaming also has its dark sides. From the deep-bred misogyny epitomized by GamerGate to the endemic malice of abusive player communities, gamer culture has had serious real-world repercussions, ranging from death threats to sexist industry practices and racist condemnations.  In The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games, new media critic and longtime gamer Christopher A. Paul explains how video games’ focus on meritocracy empowers this negative culture. Paul first shows why meritocracy is integral to video-game design, narratives, and values. Games typically valorize skill and technique, and common video-game practices (such as leveling) build meritocratic thinking into the most basic premises. Video games are often assumed to have an even playing field, but they facilitate skill transfer from game to game, allowing certain players a built-in advantage. The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games identifies deep-seated challenges in the culture of video games—but all is not lost. As Paul argues, similarly meritocratic institutions like professional sports and higher education have found powerful remedies to alleviate their own toxic cultures, including active recruiting and strategies that promote values such as contingency, luck, and serendipity. These can be brought to the gamer universe, Paul contends, ultimately fostering a more diverse, accepting, and self-reflective culture that is not only good for gamers but good for video games as well.


Compare

An avid gamer and sharp media critic explains meritocracy’s negative contribution to video game culture—and what can be done about it Video games have brought entertainment, education, and innovation to millions, but gaming also has its dark sides. From the deep-bred misogyny epitomized by GamerGate to the endemic malice of abusive player communities, gamer culture has had An avid gamer and sharp media critic explains meritocracy’s negative contribution to video game culture—and what can be done about it Video games have brought entertainment, education, and innovation to millions, but gaming also has its dark sides. From the deep-bred misogyny epitomized by GamerGate to the endemic malice of abusive player communities, gamer culture has had serious real-world repercussions, ranging from death threats to sexist industry practices and racist condemnations.  In The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games, new media critic and longtime gamer Christopher A. Paul explains how video games’ focus on meritocracy empowers this negative culture. Paul first shows why meritocracy is integral to video-game design, narratives, and values. Games typically valorize skill and technique, and common video-game practices (such as leveling) build meritocratic thinking into the most basic premises. Video games are often assumed to have an even playing field, but they facilitate skill transfer from game to game, allowing certain players a built-in advantage. The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games identifies deep-seated challenges in the culture of video games—but all is not lost. As Paul argues, similarly meritocratic institutions like professional sports and higher education have found powerful remedies to alleviate their own toxic cultures, including active recruiting and strategies that promote values such as contingency, luck, and serendipity. These can be brought to the gamer universe, Paul contends, ultimately fostering a more diverse, accepting, and self-reflective culture that is not only good for gamers but good for video games as well.

30 review for The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture Is the Worst

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris Aylott

    Paul explores the ways that meritocracy corrupts itself and turns us all into jerks, then draws connections to how the standard tropes of video games make the situation even worse. He's got a strong case here, especially when you consider how the worst elements of mainstream Western culture are especially virulent in gaming culture. I'm a little reluctant to embrace Paul's thesis, not because I think he is wrong but because I enjoy having the ideas of skill mastery and levels and team spirit in m Paul explores the ways that meritocracy corrupts itself and turns us all into jerks, then draws connections to how the standard tropes of video games make the situation even worse. He's got a strong case here, especially when you consider how the worst elements of mainstream Western culture are especially virulent in gaming culture. I'm a little reluctant to embrace Paul's thesis, not because I think he is wrong but because I enjoy having the ideas of skill mastery and levels and team spirit in my bag of design tricks. And Paul himself is not advocating we get rid of the typical game. (He is in fact a wide-ranging and enthusiastic omni-gamer who draws ideas from an impressive variety of video, tabletop, and folk games.) What he advocates instead is an increased awareness of how much past experiences and shared culture contribute to being "good" at supposedly unbiased, pure skill-based games, as well as a greater effort within the culture to develop and share games that break out of the skill => success => glory paradigm. Paul wants to see more games that break away from skill-based rags-to-riches stories -- games like Mario Party, Gone Home, Telltale's Walking Dead games, and even casual clickers like Farmville and Kim Kardashian. That's a goal I can embrace, though it's hard to see how these games (except for the clickers, which have their own issues) can gain an equal footing in the marketplace with traditional video games.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I wanted to like this book. I really did. But 1/3 of the way into this book, I chose to put it down for good. Toxicity in gaming culture is something I'm highly interested in and no stranger to, as a lifelong female gamer, and I really looked forward to Paul's take on meritocracy's role in that toxic culture. But this book finds itself in a catch 22 – I don't feel like someone not interested in gaming would ever pick this book up, and yet Paul treats his audience as if they've never played a vid I wanted to like this book. I really did. But 1/3 of the way into this book, I chose to put it down for good. Toxicity in gaming culture is something I'm highly interested in and no stranger to, as a lifelong female gamer, and I really looked forward to Paul's take on meritocracy's role in that toxic culture. But this book finds itself in a catch 22 – I don't feel like someone not interested in gaming would ever pick this book up, and yet Paul treats his audience as if they've never played a video game in their entire lives, explaining the opening of Skyrim detail by detail or handholding the reader through Overwatch's POTG mechanics. If meritocracy is to blame for toxic gaming culture, then surely non-meritocracy based games have a better culture, right? Then why do players get harassed in forums and have items stolen from them when visiting a stranger's town in Animal Crossing? If high level of skill means you're at the top of the pack, then why did Goddess of Rainbow Six Siege's pro team cast her aside, forcing her back down into challenger league? If meritocracy is to blame, why is this level of toxicity not found in IRL sports or competitions? Although I agree that meritocracy plays a part in the toxic culture of gaming, leaving out the discussion of the power of anonymity offers a woefully incomplete picture. Overall, I found this book to be longwinded and more interested in discussing the effects of meritocracy in general rather than exploring "why gaming culture is the worst."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hailey

    Delightful perspective on the structure of games and their impact on culture. Dr. Paul's writing is engaging, especially paired with his own reflections and anecdotes as a self-proclaimed gamer. The concepts presented throughout the book unveil ethical questions that force you to think, not only about how games are designed, but also about how the world is structured. Would recommend :) Delightful perspective on the structure of games and their impact on culture. Dr. Paul's writing is engaging, especially paired with his own reflections and anecdotes as a self-proclaimed gamer. The concepts presented throughout the book unveil ethical questions that force you to think, not only about how games are designed, but also about how the world is structured. Would recommend :)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Vian

    this book is gonna keep me simmering on a lot of the concepts discussed. not only in the games i play but in the games im developing and ways to create accessible experiences that tries not to assume the experiences of the player

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Something really fantastic about The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games is that it's an empathetic and investigative treatise on a subject everyone interacts with and, in my experience, no one questions. Christopher A. Paul clearly loves video games. He has a passion and patience for his subject that allows him to both interrogate and praise video games. I am not a gamer. The last time I regularly played a video game it was Frogger. I had a few CD Roms as a kid and no console. But I care about vid Something really fantastic about The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games is that it's an empathetic and investigative treatise on a subject everyone interacts with and, in my experience, no one questions. Christopher A. Paul clearly loves video games. He has a passion and patience for his subject that allows him to both interrogate and praise video games. I am not a gamer. The last time I regularly played a video game it was Frogger. I had a few CD Roms as a kid and no console. But I care about video games as a home to a subculture and someone who loves different mediums for narratives. I have also, dare I admit it, dated gamers. The gamer world is interesting and intoxicating and this book is an academic look at why and how gaming culture came to be so toxic? Obviously, I'm in. I remember the first time I heard about this book I told someone that I found the concept fascinating, thinking that the process of getting a treat (XP or a level up) for every deed clearly created some kind of culture in people. Yeah, no, that's not what this book is about. This book is a desperate and beautiful love letter from Paul to games, gamers, and game developers asking them to do better. Through meticulous research and with humility and wit, Paul explains the history of meritocracy, the history of video games, and wraps the two into a microcosm of what the rest of Western civilization looks like. I think the analogy is obvious, if not fully intentional. There is a pervasive message in video games (and in American Dream propaganda, the book reviewer adds, sliding her glasses up her nose) that "effort + skill = success." This is true. And, if I'm honest? It really messed with my worldview. It is INCREDIBLY difficult to discount meritocracy on it's, ah, merits. The problem is meritocracy (thanks, Paul) is that it's impossible. There is no level playing ground when one accounts for context. Not in life or in video games. But it is REALLY nice to believe that if you work hard you'll succeed. I really want to believe it. (In fact, I once said in an interview with Mauritian writer Umar Timol that Americans all believe ourselves one moment away from our perfect white picket fence American Dream, so I'm on record about this.) So in Paul's deconstruction of meritocracy, I had to check myself. He's right and he has the receipts to prove it (70 pages of them). I have to respect him for that. That is a huge gamble he's taking with his audience, especially with the assumption that the people who will read this book will likely be gamers. I cannot imagine that I, having no use for a console except that it is how I access Netflix, am Paul's typical reader. Some fun things that Paul does: gives background information on famous and fun video games in context, which includes things like why the use of the term "girlfriend mode" to describe a character/skill tree in Borderlands wasn't bad for business, despite it being obviously sexist (which is super annoying because the thing referenced here, officially called "Best Friends Forever" sounds like an excellent idea); looking into co-creativity ("the belief that media products are constructed in the interactions between producers and consumers of content"); and why knowledge scaffolding (the information you bring from the last game you played will help you play the next game) shouldn't be discounted as a barrier to play. My favorite things Paul does: 1) Gives a clear call to action both to people to play games and to game developers. 2) Draws clear parallels between gaming and other meritocratic institutions (professional sports and higher education) with a nod at what improvements can be made. This book was difficult to read, but like working out. I'm tired but I feel great. Part of the difficulty for me, I imagine, is that I am not a gamer nor someone involved in communications (Paul is a professor of communications at my alma mater, I learned from his biography) so there was a bit of jargon that I was stuck looking up and still misunderstanding. This didn't deter me from continuing reading, though. Paul's passion and steadfast belief in games is alluring and comforting. As I read the book, I read pieces aloud to my spouse, and we looked up different games mentioned on the Play Station Network and watched the trailers, talked about the non-meritocratic games (save for the one I already knew about which is on the Do Not Play list, but you'll have to PM me for more info on that) listed in our group chat with other folks who love games. I feel more well-rounded and more well-read for having read this book. Cheers, Christopher A. Paul. You've made a believer out of me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    That is one way to look at things. Paul produces mediocre texts like that and voila! through some simple brownnosing he has a very good government paid wage and the promise of a wonderful government pension plan. Still, the specie is going backwards into the Middle Ages by generalizing the promotion of this sort of people.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    In a nutshell, everytime I read meritocracy my head heard mediocrity. AAA Games needs to stop catering to the mediocre and start creating new and innovative games, both to promote a diverse player base and end toxic gamer culture.

  8. 5 out of 5

    szymborskalyte

    The premise is fascinating and I think sound — that gaming culture shapes a habitus of a distinctly meritocratic bent — but the evidence and implications are weak.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Riikka Koo

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sian

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vincent

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Janosi

  14. 5 out of 5

    Farouk

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbora Tauerová

  16. 4 out of 5

    rukayah

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mateo

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Hemmann

  19. 5 out of 5

    Doug M

  20. 5 out of 5

    Demian Naftali

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gigi

  22. 5 out of 5

    Justplainlucas

  23. 4 out of 5

    folette ✿

  24. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  25. 5 out of 5

    Linda Paul

  26. 5 out of 5

    Boris Orlov

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Farnsworth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Stanton

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ema

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Davies

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.