Jason Arment

Nerdpocalypse

(scene from LQ/JAF Productions film A Boy and His Dog)

The Nerdpocalypse is upon us. Pay attention to what is happening, there are real-life implications that are impacting both individuals and society alike.

 

If you’re like me, you’ve avoided reading news about nerds because it doesn’t matter, and you’re dead wrong. What is going on in nerd land is nothing short of a culture war, one with real-life consequences for individuals and society alike. This is unfortunate for the woke folk, because most nerds don’t care what they think and have no desire to be politically correct. And that’s their problem; they should get lives and care about things besides video games, right? Still wrong, and I’ll tell you why.

The average gamer is so inundated with calls for them to become politically charged they can now tune it out without even trying. They have no problem completely avoiding whatever issue people are trying to force down their throats, and many of them don’t watch television or even YouTube. There are various streaming sites showcasing professional gamers playing at all hours of the day, and when not shouting in victory or defeat, the streamers talk to their fans, thereby becoming their devout fans only source of media. An educated person, or a person learned of life (I’m referring to actual experience), has no problem understanding that this sort of social isolation has the potential to be very bad, but it’s especially negative considering the very nature of gamers lends them to being what Marx called “alienated youth,” ripe for radicalization.

This in and of itself offers little to be concerned about, and I am not given to writing columns about the potentiality of fire in a hayfield. But I myself used to be an avid gamer. When I was around six years old, the internet became a thing, so I can remember the time before that about as well as I can remember playing through Zork. So, my travel through the world of nerds has been nostalgic, making it somewhat easier to stomach a lot of what is going on. And what is going on is exactly what science fiction authors have predicted for years—David Foster Wallace wrote about snapchat filters in Infinite Jest, William Gibson wrote about the digital world in Neuromancer, Colin Wilson wrote about how technology would help weaponize racism in The Mind Parasites—which is a good thing, considering it means this new social phenomenon can be engaged successfully. But first, it is necessary to understand what’s going on.

Patreon is a platform which allows people to be paid for nontraditional services through crowdfunding. Initially, Patreon released a statement which made it seem as if they wouldn’t ban people for their politics or off-platform behavior. However, in recent weeks, this has proven to not be the case. A YouTuber by the handle of Sargon of Akkad was recently banned and has made several videos illustrating how he was banned for using the n-word against Neo-Nazis in an online chat not affiliated with, nor posted to, Patreon. (Sargon has explained that he doesn’t think a person can be racist to Nazis, and how he was just using their own words against them. My own personal view is that the only people who can say that word are black.) Sargon is an agitator who often voices vigorous and strong dissent against people who believe in Politically Correct culture, being one of those who fight for “freedom of speech.” Sargon also identifies as a socialist of sorts and so far has not crossed over into pandering to his own politics like Jordan Peterson, who openly panders to far-right politics.

 

The Nerdpocalypse has been brewing for some time now, but now the eye of the storm is upon us.

 

Patreon’s decision to ban-hammer Sargon has far-reaching effects because they’re in bed with PayPal. This gives stunning validity to the idea that Silicon Valley is calling the shots and has taken it upon themselves to drive out the far-right and their sympathizers, or those who appear to sympathize. This would seem a boon to people in the United States as most are feeling fatigue from our dysfunctional political system’s never-ending ebb and flow, just as the general de-platforming of Alex Jones was a popular move overall. Alex Jones repeatedly advocated for violence against others, the straw that broke the camel’s back being a call for cross dressers and drag queens to be set on fire, and he also frequently spreads sensational misinformation as real news. Alex Jones had his children stripped from him by the courts when his ex-wife sued for full custody, even though he argued that his on air persona was just that, a persona.

How do gamers fit into all of this? Simply put, we are examining the pieces of a puzzle that jigsaws together to form a larger nerd portrait. Gamers are the sort of people who know about Sargon being banned, because the same sort of PC enforcement happens to their games, and some of the same media outlets covering this also cover video game news. Which brings us directly to the Gamergate controversy—where female feminist gamers and game critics were doxed, harassed, and threatened—which is now old news in a post-Gamergate world. The sentiments surrounding Gamergate—that political correctness and diversity are being shoe-horned into gaming—still remain though and are even now being reinforced through game developer bros speaking out to ham-fistedly save the gaming world by giving far-right mouthpieces valid points to use in articles. For instance, in a recent WWII First Person Shooter release, the previews showed a woman fighting for the allies in Europe with a bionic arm. This led to a backlash, and the developers responded with statements very akin to, “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.” When the game released, female character models were androgynous, sporting military haircuts, and dressing just like the male characters. So, was it all a tempest in a teapot?

Game developers are cashing in on the Nerdpocalypse just as much as the Alt-Right have cashed in on Gamergate. What used to be an identity for nerds is being commodified to a degree that is astounding and never before seen. Games are now regularly released in states rendered unplayable by bugs. In-game purchases of a few dollars or more are so regular that a gamer can sometimes expect to pay the price of the game simply to acquire all the in-game loot. Franchises spawned by some of the most talented game developers ever—cribbed from minds like Harlan Ellison, much like the Terminator film series (the Fallout series can trace direct lineage from the movie A Boy and His Dog)—are now nothing but shadows of their former glory. Game critics are having their YouTube videos reported not for actual copyright infringement, but because of the negative opinions held therein by the critics, and this is being openly acknowledged by developers.

The Nerdpocalypse has been brewing for some time now, but now the eye of the storm is upon us. Now that Sargon is banned, leftist groups are afraid that their Patreon is next. The far-right won’t stop crying about how all this is censorship (instead of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and getting real jobs) and the average person has no idea that all of this is even a situation they should be tracking. Because, if you think this just affects gamers, you need to wake up. The people who are molding the minds of myriad young people may not have anyone’s best interest at heart, instead opting to further their own agenda at the detriment of others. So, take an interest, or cede the field to others who will—there is simply no in-between. I will continue to report on this for the same reason I report on many happenings the mainstream media finds too fringe to address. It bears knowing who is trying to carve out your place in the future.

 

Jason Arment is the author of Musalaheen, a war memoir published by University of Hell Press.

 

Jason Arment

Jason Arment served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Machine Gunner in the USMC. He's earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Chautauqua, Hippocampus, The Burrow Press Review, Dirty Chai, and War, Literature & the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities; anthologized in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors Volume 2 & 4; and is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, The Florida Review, and Phoebe. Jason lives in Denver.

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