If you look on Jimmy Kimmel’s youtube channel, you’ll see something rather strange: Just about every single video has an enormous amount of dislikes. Usually when a video gets disliked that much, there’s a good reason for it. I had a look at some of the videos with 80% dislikes and didn’t see anything particularly wrong or offensive about them. Then I read the comments and saw a few mentions about pissed off gamers. It turns out he made a 2 minute clip taking jabs at the release of Youtube Gaming, a gaming service with heavy emphasis on streaming similar to Twitch.tv.
I can’t believe this clip has managed to trigger such a profound backlash. As someone who used to watch a lot of streams myself and even had my own stream for a while, I actually thought it was kind of funny and it drew a few laughs. He does have a point: Gaming by itself is already a strong form of escapism, and the act of watching others play games takes that to an extreme. But even if you don’t agree with his bit and found his joke out of touch and perhaps even a bit insensitive, he certainly doesn’t deserve the absolute ire he’s been receiving. Roll your eyes and move on with your life.
I’m so sick and tired of seeing internet hate mobs triggered over the stupidest things. His harmless 2 minute video poking fun at an eccentric hobby has triggered one article after another along with the usual insanity of death threats and vitriol you’d expect would be reserved towards convicted child molesters. All this hatred does is give credence to Jimmy Kimmel’s satirical joke.
I used to be heavily into the speedrunning scene and was routinely disgusted at some of the controversies in the community. For those who don’t know, a speedrun is when you attempt to beat a game as quickly as possible, usually in a competitive manner to achieve a world record time. It used to be a very fringe hobby but has since exploded in popularity. One of the speedrun community’s crowning achievements is the creation of a charity event called Games Done Quick. At this event, a collection of a few hundred gamers would set up in a hotel and stream speedruns for about a week straight while also raising money for charities such as the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. The event continues to grow and now regularly averages over 100,000 live viewers while also raising over 1 million dollars per event. This aspect of the community is awesome, there’s no doubt about it.
What’s not so awesome about this community is some of the horrible shit that goes down due to rampant immaturity and childishness. Take for example this video. This depicts an incident where Cosmo, one of the most popular speedrunners in the community, indirectly lashes out at Mirrored for providing more commentary during his run than he would’ve liked. Although this was nothing more than a slightly socially awkward moment, this event triggered a massive hate mob against Mirrored. Whenever Mirrored would stream, his channel would get flooded with hate comments to the point where he was forced to stop streaming and was basically shunned altogether from the community. Unfortunately, incidents like these are all too common and show a disturbing tendency of gamers to viciously overreact to things they don’t like.
And don’t even get me started on ragequit videos or DDOS attacks. According to the article, “gaming servers are still the number target of DDOS attacks”. Even the Games Done Quick charity event I mentioned earlier has been victim to DDOS attacks.
Even if you think I’m cherrypicking particularly awful behavior, it’s not difficult to see that hardcore gaming brings out the worst in people. And let’s face it: most people who are regularly watching twitch streams fall under the category of hardcore gamers. If you’ve ever read the twitch chat of even a moderately popular stream, what you see time and time again is written diarrhea in the form endless memes, emoticons, ASCII art and cries for attention. At some point you reach a critical mass where only the basest of emotions are conveyed, which is always a delightful mix of racism, sexism, vulgarity and every prejudice imaginable.
If you watch a lot of twitch streams for long enough, you come to realize that the vast majority of active streamers are at least slightly depressed and don’t have much going on in their lives. It’s not uncommon for a lot of streamers to do 12, 24, even 36 hour streams without rest. What’s worse is that many of their most avid followers are even worse off. They often express feelings of depression, social anxiety, helplessness, food addiction, insomnia, and extreme difficulties with relationships.
Earlier I briefly mentioned streamers that got raided by the police. I remember watching one particular streamer get raided live. What I found most shocking is that when he realized his house was surrounded by cops, he continued playing the game he was streaming for another minute and a half before getting up to put a shirt on and address the police. Then after the police left, instead of feeling completely flustered and disturbed, he continued streaming. Never have I seen a more powerful example of videogame addiction, yet this type of behavior is commonplace on twitch.
The reason this Jimmy Kimmel incident pisses me off so much is that I know it struck a nerve with people it should’ve struck a nerve with. It’s evidence that the number of people who are turning into videogame addicts is growing exponentially. As videogames become increasingly complex and immersive, they become more effective as a safe and convenient outlet from life’s problems. It enables people to stay emotionally stunted. It’s simply easier to get suckered into an elaborate fantasy world than it is to confront your fears about finding a job or a girlfriend or whatever it is that you are so desperately hiding from.
I know this because I speak from experience. Depression and alienation is literally what drives you towards streaming, whether it be watching or making them. I mean, if you feel the need to film yourself playing videogames for an audience, you’re already taking what is a simple form of entertainment way too seriously and have lost perspective on what’s important in life. The more I’ve replaced my gaming habits by spending time with friends, developing other hobbies and prioritizing my school and career, the less I am able to enjoy watching streams. I keep finding myself wondering how I ever enjoyed this to begin with. When I see how a non-gamer such as Jimmy Kimmel reacts to the emergence of streaming, I can actually relate to him instead of reactively lashing out at him.
Now perhaps I am projecting too much based on my own struggles with videogame addiction and let me make it perfectly clear: There is nothing wrong with playing videogames if it’s nothing more than a simple hobby that takes up maybe a couple hours per day. What I see with this Jimmy Kimmel hate mob is that there are far too many people out there whose lives are altogether consumed by the presence of videogames and are lashing out because their very sense of identity as gamers is being attacked.