Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Looking Over Your Shoulder

There are days when I feel like I'm the last person to know anything at all in our corner of MMO space.

Oh sure, I pick up on big items fairly quickly*, but some of the lesser exposed items tend to pass me by. Perhaps it's due to my ignore factor set high enough to not go bananas every time a game company acts like, well, like the part of Corporate America it is**, but I refuse to respond to that sort of clickbait.

But this rolling of the eyes and moving on with my life has led me to miss some important activity happening in gamer space.

Such as this article from Kotaku about stalkers in streamer space.

On the face of it, the concept of stalkers being out there on the internet isn't exactly a new one. I grew up prior to the Internet Age, and I remember quite well the almost laughable advice given to teens and tweens in the late 80s and early 90s about protecting yourself from stalkers. To say that it was on the level of "Just Say No"*** is doing an injustice to the old anti-drug campaign itself. Still, like a stopped clock being right twice a day, there were some good pieces of advice sprinkled in, such as never assuming you know who is on the other end of a chat.

However, the age of streamers and Influencer culture has warped the old advice a bit: people know who the stalker is, but feel they have little power against them.

The nature of social media has sharpened and enhanced the ability of stalkers --particularly those who have a built in audience-- to wield a lot of power. And if someone threatens their power, the social media feeding frenzy they can unleash can be terrifying.

So people the stalkers seek out keep silent.

I don't have any real answers to this conundrum, because often the only way to combat this sort of power is with power, and stalkers deliberately minimize this sort of reaction because they prey on the powerless. About the best advice I have to anyone is to be a friend to people. Listen to them. Don't assume, and keep an open mind.

And most importantly, believe them when they come to you with a problem --any problem, really-- but especially stalkerish issues.

*Activision-Blizzard job cuts, for instance.

**Basically every "[insert game company here] MUST PAY!!" article or posting or video. I've worked in Corporate America for decades now, so cry me a river when a company behaves like any other company in that world. You want that to change? Good luck with that, because the concept of shareholder primacy has been around since the late 1970s/early 1980s. People much more powerful than I have been trying to break the stranglehold shareholder primacy has on the market without much effect. I suspect it'll take an economic shock for that to happen, and if the Great Recession can't do it, then I doubt some YouTubers will.

***Yes, I'm old enough that I had to sit in class and watch Nancy Reagan's videos for a full week about saying no to drugs. That was a week of my life I'm never getting back.

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