Stewardship Instead of Gatekeeping

Stewardship: (n): the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Hey everyone! Coffee here, and you’re reading Games with Coffee.

Five years ago, I started this blog to show what it means to be a mature and distinguished gamer. Lately, and after consistently lurking on the social media hellscape, I’ve been thinking: What’s the opposite of gatekeeping?

You all have seen gatekeeping at its worst, right? Excluding people from fandoms, especially people of colour, the LGBTQ+ community, and women, hoarding and withholding knowledge on how to play certain games. And then, there’s my personal favourite: “You’re not a real gamer cuz you play [Insert console/game here]!” 

On top of it all, there are viral and over-shared takes of individuals (usually alpha-male bros) that are so heinous and overzealous, you think to yourself “What’s the point of being a part of the gaming community if that’s how we’re treated? Or any community?”

The big question I’m really asking is, what’s the alternative?

Holding up a Mirror

Let’s take the three examples above and look at the opposite of each. Instead of exclusion, let’s include ALL people of colour, of gender, and of orientation into gaming fandoms. Let’s celebrate and champion people through proper representation in our games. No matter who you are, where you’re from and what you identify as, if you play games, you are a gamer. If you’re a fan, you should be celebrated for being a fan instead of having to constantly prove you are one.

Instead of hoarding, let’s share our knowledge of games in a constructive and positive manner. Let’s help other players beat their games instead of saying “Git Gud,” and walking away. Let’s not judge people for playing on Easy mode, but if they ask for advice, give it freely and earnestly. Finally, let’s be accountable on how we share knowledge with each other either in the lobby or on the field, or in real life and on social media. 

Instead of berating people for playing a certain game or their choice of platform, let’s be kind to them. Like I mentioned before: all games are valid and there’s a game for everyone out there. There’s no one type of game or series above all others, despite what people say on social media. True, some games deserve the moniker of GOAT, but it’s not an excuse to be a terrible person to someone who doesn’t or cannot play those kinds of games. Be kind, encourage others, and let them enjoy what they love. 

On the same note, be kind to yourself by not getting tied up with whatever controversial take is popular on social media. Look, it’s a wonderful tool which allows many like-minded individuals a place to connect and share what they love. It’s also a hellscape containing the worst society has to offer. It’s so easy for outrage to spread on social media and, because negativity sells, it’s hard to break free from the cycle. Those who try to inject positivity onto the space are fair and few in between. So, how do you avoid being sucked into the negative spiral? The answer is quite simple: let it go.

Do not surrender your emotions. Let it go. Context provided by my good friend, the Well-Red Mage

You don’t need to prove to anyone how much of a fan you are of a game, console or character. You also don’t need to take a stand and defend your choices to the masses. You know your own worth; be kind to yourself and don’t waste time and energy responding to hot takes. Speaking of, we’ll cover hit pieces, hot takes, rumour mongering and other shady media and gaming industry tactics used for gatekeeping in the next post.

Gamers as Stewards

I firmly believe that we, as gamers, have a duty and responsibility for the fair promotion of gaming as a hobby. We need to cut away from gatekeeping behaviours and embrace ways to promote gaming in an equitable manner. So, how do we start moving towards a stewardship model?

One way is to try to find positives found in the systems, games and types of games you don’t particularly play. Modern AAA Games, for example, benefit from the existence of retro games. People like to dump on retro games, not knowing the influence they’ve had on modern titles. Those classic games delivered immersive experiences despite the hardware limitations. Modern games took the concepts from retro games and combined it with bleeding edge tech to create some of the most amazing games to date.

Another way is to respect and not reject a person’s choice of platform. Some people love their PC games, and I say, “That’s awesome.” Some others are hardcore fans of PlayStation and Xbox. I say, “Good on ya.” People love gaming on the Nintendo Switch? I say, “Fair game, fam.” To those who enjoy retro, I say to you “you do you, boo.” Mobile gamers? I may not enjoy mobile games personally, but I see you, and I say that y’all count as well. That’s respecting a person’s choice of platform. Gaining an understanding of the positives that exist within these platforms will also help you to respect them instead of reject them.

Credit unknown

In short, enjoy the games and systems you love, and don’t hate on anyone who enjoys the games and systems you don’t necessarily play. Games are supposed to be fun for everyone, let’s all work together to try and keep it that way.

And on that note, we’ll close off today’s post. What do you think stewardship means in the context of gaming? What sort of responsibilities do gamers have towards both newcomers and the community at large? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments below and I might feature it on a future post!

Until then, this is Coffee, reminding you to live without regrets, believe in yourself, and chase after the impossible.


Games With Coffee

Enriching the Stewards of Gaming, One Cup At A Time

One thought on “Stewardship Instead of Gatekeeping

  1. Pingback: Whatcha Up To, Coffee?! – #2 | Games With Coffee

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