I first heard about this through Vitae: BioWare writer Jennifer Hepler has been viciously attacked by gamers for, among other things, not being a gamer herself, and for suggesting that a game that skipped combat in favor of dialogue might be interesting.

Oh, the fury they came up with in their intolerant, ultimately impotent haze, blasting away with remarks like “obese cunt” and “the cancer that is killing Bileware”. (To that one, BioWare studio GM Aaron Flynn responded with “whatever, fucking moron”, which naturally only served to rile the fucking morons up even more.)

Unfortunately, this is far from uncommon. A certain segment of gamers feel that they are incontrovertibly correct on every matter and that their opinions are universal truths; that anyone they don’t like, they can simply bully out of existence; that women, specifically, don’t belong in game development or as gamers (which makes it even sadder that this phenomenon includes some women). For the purposes of this post I’ll refer to them as Always Right Girl Hounders, or ARGH, which you may feel free to pronounce as an acronym and not an initialism.

This incident with Jennifer Hepler is simply the latest salvo in ARGH’s war against things they don’t like in gaming (including women). I know you’re familiar with them; they’re the sort of person whose argument boils down to “I’m right and you’re stupid”, only they’d probably use a term for “stupid” that belies their lack of respect for their target. (“Retarded”, maybe, or “a fucking loser”. Or “a cancer”.)

I have a theory, though, as to why ARGH are the way they are. It comes down to correctness and the unconscious conflation of morality and knowledge. Most of these people have gone through a system where correctness is rewarded and incorrectness isn’t remedied but instead punished: the modern educational system. Because of class sizes, curriculum requirements, and other exigencies of modern classrooms, when tests are graded, students who did well are rewarded with high grades – but students who did poorly are given no chance to correct themselves and try again. They are simply told that there is one right answer, and they didn’t know what it was. Moreover, many teachers attach moral value to higher grades, and shame students who got something wrong.

The students are therefore taught that being correct is morally correct, and being incorrect is shameful.

Additionally, students are taught that there is one correct answer, and that not having the authority’s single correct answer is to be incorrect, which is shameful.

So when these students are removed from that situation and placed in a situation where there are multiple correct answers – for example, opinions about video games – three thoughts flash through their minds:

1. Only one of these opinions can be correct.
2. Holding an incorrect opinion is shameful.
3. I believe that my opinion is correct; therefore anyone who holds a different opinion is shameful.

And they attack. Since the person who disagrees with them already is shameful, it’s an invitation to add further shame to the mix. Since the person who disagrees with them already is shameful, it’s an excuse to be as mean-spirited as possible – after all, if they didn’t want to be called an “obese cunt”, they would have had the correct opinion in the first place.

It’s even worse because ARGH is doing this over the internet – where it’s incredibly easy to find people who believe as they do and where it’s incredibly easy to remain semi-anonymous and insulated from retaliation.

They attack, because there can be only one correct opinion and obviously they have it, and they destroy as much as they can so that when they’re done, all that will remain are opinions that agree with them.

It’s sad, really.

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