Institutions in Gaming

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
It's an article on institutions and communities and their role on the internet and in gaming, inspired by a friend making an argument contrary to my own.

Submitted: August 22, 2011

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Submitted: August 22, 2011




A friend of mine recently posed to me the question of why gaming clans meant so much to me, and what the difference was between the group of friends we had in our current one and just talking to people. His question was why we needed clans to have a group of people to talk to, why they were necessary, he asked this as part of a justification for leaving the group, but still wanting to talk to its’ members and hang out with them. His question made me think, and upon my thoughts I concluded his justifications for leaving utterly ridiculous.


First though, I should address his partially right stance on the stupidity of many gaming clans. He felt that joining them was often stupid and unnecessary since often all they ever did was compete and scrimmage against others. He felt our clan was dead in this respect. I agreed with him in that too often I see clans and gaming groups appreciate none of us for our qualities or values, but completely for our skill and might we wield against others in a game. They appreciate the person for what they can do but not for who they are. I believe this is a side effect of being part of the internet. The internet is a wild and untamed place, as untamed things often behave, it values people for what they can do, it does not respect people equally for who they are. In fact, it doesn’t really have that much respect for anyone, but if ever there were a basis for receiving it, it would be might. The internet behaves in such a way because it is full of millions of individuals, isolated and far away from each other, not subject to common courtesy.


We feel our words and actions affect people in real life, whereas on the internet, we don’t, people are there to escape to some other personality to act it out in some other place. Some people see this land of escapism as a good thing, I don’t.  In real life, institutions also play a role in preventing people from behaving in such a mean and disrespectful manner. Whatever the institution is, its’ goal is usually something positive if it exists at all in the public realm, and it usually has rules and regulations that encourage you to treat others with respect and dignity, not only for how the institution itself views you, but just because it creates a better atmosphere for everyone to get to know and appreciate one another.  This leads me to believe that most institutions like the government, schools, social groups, and some sports teams, have good reasons for their rules.  Contrary to what the total nonconformist might think, rules exist for a reason, we cannot reject rules merely because they are rules. Teachers, in all their brilliance, do not reject a paper because it is a paper, they reject it because it is a BAD paper, and vice versa. The same truth applies to rules and regulations.


As has been proven before, this land of escapism, disrespect, and lack of community has caused the users of this land to emulate its’ values. Gaming clans reflect the emergence of institutions as they exist in the real world in gaming. But as I explained, it is evident the taint of the internet rubbed off on our institutions. Resulting in the extremely competitive and alienating status of the communities and institutions that have emerged.


You’d think I was making a pretty good argument for my friend here, but he is only half right. One other problem with his ideas is that he tends to accept the chaos of the internet and engage in its’ behaviors. We have to be the change we seek; we cannot criticize the world and be exactly all we despise about it. Don’t worry; his main point about institutions is all the more ridiculous. He would have us abandon our groups, our titles, our institutions on the basis that there are so many bad examples out there.  People do not stop getting married because so many people get divorced, people don’t stop believing in authority because there are bad authorities out there. All these institutions are good on their own, the bad examples people often display isn’t a good reason to abandon the institution itself. Mostly because society would collapse without them, they have been important to us socially and morally for a long time, we can’t stop depending on them now. Truly, the application of this argument is self defeating.


The gaming clan he and I are part of has been an exception for a long time. Before I get into the details of why and how, I’ll get into my friend’s statement about it: He felt that our little social group of about 5-6 people, which I described as a group of friends that had a lot of respect and a good sense of community between each other, didn’t need the actual institution, the idea of the community. He seemed to feel that you could establish the same conditions on your own with a group of people. I thought this true between friends who knew one another in person, as when they disagree or argue, they see the affects of their words firsthand, so they have an obligation to take one another seriously enough to listen to what they have to say. In gaming, even when you are friends with people to some extent, when disagreements arise, people are less hesitant to belittle, insult, and disrespect the other person to ensure their way of thinking prevails. Even in real life, institutions act as a mediator or as a body to create rules to make sure people do behave in a respectful manner towards others. On the internet, this is all the more essential.


When you’re part of a community like a gaming clan, there are administrators, regular members, and various other roles. The administrators define what a clan is all about, as they set the rules. When people are part of a gaming community, they stand for something. The prime example I felt has been the community I’ve been part of. The community always seemed to encourage people to get to know and respect one another and bring in the people inclined to do that already. The first difference between a group of people who regularly talked with each other and our community is the moral authority an administrator would carry. You’re supposed to trust them and their decisions because they are supposed to understand the ideas of respect and community, and be able to keep that atmosphere by keeping rules that reflected those ideas enforced, either by throwing certain people out or bringing others in. With a regular group of people, there is nothing you can do if one person decides to act in the wrong ways; you can just stop talking to them. The idea of the community is that you can create an atmosphere where people respect and appreciate one another, and keep it. By being part of an organization that strives towards these values, you’re standing for something. We are stronger together than we are apart. We can much better attain these values and goals together with others than we can on our own. I do no good in trying to convince a friend on my own in the clan of these values, but with the community striving towards them with me; we can truly make a great community.


In short, on my own I can only do so much, but with a community of friends united in values and trust, we can do great things.



Sources: Luke Harris, Myself, all the gaming communities I’ve been a part of, my parents, and G.K. Chesterton.

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