A lot of my readers are older gamers, or younger gamers with an interest in gaming history, so I wanted to share something I ran across this week, because I think we're exactly the sort of people who should be helping out with this.
Game industry figure Ernest W. Adams wrote a worthwhile article about online gaming, the social problems associated with it, and what might be done about it here. It was originally written for Gamasutra's Designer's Notebook series, but wasn't ultimately published there, so the good folks at the freethought blog Butterflies & Wheels ran it in its intended form a few days back.
I don't do a lot of online gaming, and when I do, it's almost always with friends. If I create a match, most of the time it will be a private session with invited players, for exactly the sorts of reasons Adams cites. But after reading his thoughts on the sorry state of the online gaming "community," I think I have a social duty to participate and fight the problem instead of avoiding it. I'm going to do more online gaming, and be more vocal with my disapproval when people act like immature jerks.
I encourage other grownups to do the same. And by "grownups," I mean that if you're twelve, but can carry on a proper conversation in-game, without invoking epithets, name-calling and accusations of cheating, and take your losses and victories like a decent human being... you count. Moreso than a lot of of the technically-qualified "adults" out there.
It's not just a matter of etiquette -- it's a matter of encouraging participation from everyone in our favorite hobby. Excelsior!