Fandom.

“I think it’s easier for me to put up with offensive wackness in gaming because I don’t interact with fandom. Fandom is a wackness amplifier.”

—Cheryl Lynn Eaton

When I heard about the upcoming PC release of Grand Theft Auto IV, I bounced up and down like a hyperactive child and scoured every news site I could to look for information. I still obsess over the neighborhood I’ve constructed in The Sims 2, and I will risk a throbbing headache just to make sure a telephone pole has been placed correctly. I have an irrational fondness for point-and-click adventure games, and will scan dusty shelves looking for one I might have missed.

I love video games. Am I dismayed by the bigotry that permeates the genre? Yes. Do I still play? Yes!

How do I cope? Easily. I don’t buy what offends me and I don’t interact with fandom. I can count on one hand the number of people I discuss games with or play games with online. Yeah, I may get smacked in the face with racism/sexism/colorism issues when reading an article in a gaming magazine or searching the aisles for a new game, but I’ll never have some jackass calling me a racial slur while I play Starcraft. I’ll never understand how some of my friends put up with that nonsense.

I’m pretty pleased to say that I enjoy video games now as much as I did when I first started playing them. And I think my avoidance of gaming fandom is the reason for that. I think that fandom tends to enhance all of the negative aspects that plague a genre. Not only do you have to deal with those negative aspects in the work created, but fandom will immediately parrot and defend those aspects as soon as the work is released to the public. It can sap your enjoyment over time.

I think that’s what has happened to me in regards to mainstream comics and mainstream hip-hop. I wonder if I can get my enjoyment back by not interacting with most of my fellow fans save a small few.