Thursday, March 12, 2009

Elitism is a very bad thing.

Chances are, if you're reading this blog, you're good at something. If you're good at something, you have a pretty high chance of being elitist about it. In fact, even if you aren't good at anything, there is a pretty good chance that you're elitist about something that you think you're good at.

Elitism is universally bad. It is the number one killer of gaming communities and it is the sole reason we nerds continue to be small, exclusive groups of people.

I shouldn't even say all nerd communities are like this. Anime culture seems somewhat resilient to the elitist phenomenon, and anime culture is BOOMING. Localizing anime creates probably billions of dollars in revenue annually in America.

Actually, that's a made-up estimate; I'm assuming that there are over 10 million anime fans, and they spend an average of 100 dollars a year on anime, manga, and other related merchandise. I don't think that's a crazy amount. I might even be shortchanging it.

Anyway, elitism is bad. But before we can talk about anything we have to define exactly what we are talking about. So let's give it a stab: Elitism is an attitude where people look down upon others who lack a particular skill, trait, or knowledge.

It is universally looked upon as a bad thing, but unfortunately for them, the elitists are usually experts. Most elitists have skills not common to most people. A good example of an elitist clique might be 'the jocks' in high school. The stereotypical jock weighs the value of all the people he comes across on the basis of their physical prowess. The stronger, faster, and tougher you are, the more likely the jock is to think you are a good person. If you are not physically capable, the jock is likely to think you are worthless.

In gaming culture especially, the elitist phenomenon is huge. There are numerous circles of people who exclude others largely on the basis of skill. Even if they don't condemn a person directly, most people cannot accept failure or ridicule for long and leave the group of their own volition. Gaming clubs and groups expand slowly, and the people who come to stick around usually have to go through a 'trial by fire' in order to gain the skills needed to be accepted.

I know that by now, you are probably thinking to yourself that you are not one of those people. I am telling you now that you almost certainly are. If you are critical of others, call them 'noobs' or any other derogatory name, or exclude them from activities on the merit of skill or ability, you are an elitist. Even if you aren't a vocal elitist, and many aren't, if you aren't actively working to accomodate new people you are probably a part of the problem. I know only a few gamers who really fall into this category. If you are one of those people, I will publicly recognize you for it if I know who you are and know that you are a person actively working to better the community.

Ha, I'm elitist of people who aren't elitist!

Anyway, the single largest cause of elitism is pride. The idea that "I'm better" is pretty strong, especially in the male psyche (although women are not exempt). If you want to make a difference in the nerd community, shove your pride in the trash can and never look back. This means that you need to get rid of the attitude that you're better than people. This attitude is also a big reason why people don't improve (they think they're already good) so you'll be doing yourself a double favor. If you get rid of pride as much as possible, you'll start seeing the flaws in your own game and work to improve them. Then, when you are teaching someone new, you'll also have a new perspective. "Well, I did this a lot when I was starting out, but I got punished for it a lot, so you shouldn't do this unless you know they aren't going to counter."

Be encouraging of others. When someone new asks you a question, treat them seriously. If someone doesn't know how to hotkey a building or throw a grenade or do a dragon punch, show them how. If it's a tricky thing like a dragon punch, give them as many hints as you can. And above all, be encouraging. If someone fails, you should pick them back up and encourage them to keep trying. Never tell someone they suck or that they should just quit. They probably will!

You also have to get the other 'pros' to adopt the same mentality. Tell them that it's not cool to pick on the kids in the arcade because they keep jumping in. If you're in a XBL game and someone really makes a brilliant play, you need to compliment them instead of bashing them. If you can make the people in your community more accepting of 'bad players' then you will get a lot more of these bad players wanting to learn.

There is a very serious problem that stems from pride and elitism as well. Failure is really common to all of us. When we lose, it is our first and most natural instinct to blame something other than ourselves for our failure. I'm not sure why human nature is that way, but it is. When someone does a trick that beats us that we feel is unfair, we have a tendency to cry 'cheap'. This is very very bad. If we lose to something that we weren't planning for or don't know how to beat, we MUST accept the loss was our own fault. If I do not know how to beat something and then lose to it, it is my own fault for not having the knowledge or skill needed. I should ask my opponent how the trick works, and compliment him on his superior play. Most people will gladly give you all sorts of tips if you ask nicely and give compliments. If you call someone cheap and lame, they will probably not tell you anything.

Elitism is a horrible thing and it is a cancer to any community that measures a person's worth on some sort of skill or ability. Eliminate elitism from your community and encourage understanding and cooperation. That new kid might be a scrub now, but you never know if a new kid will find something really amazing that benefits your entire community.

Swallow your pride and stand up for what is right.

1 comment:

  1. Eye Am A Bit Tardy For The Party, But Very Powerful Post...May The Elimination Of Elitism/Dominoe Effect Have Begun!