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The Nature of Anti-Discussion: A Critique of the Fire Emblem Fandom
IntroductionIn retrospect, I think there's very few games, if any, that would have anywhere near the replicable effect it would have on me that Fire Emblem did. I ended up buying Path of Radiance for my Wii's GameCube backwards compatibility in the year 2011, and when I went on to play the game, it frankly blew my mind in ways that didn't exactly feel comparable to almost any other game I've played. The gameplay was good (though in hindsight PoR was definitely one of the weaker FEs gameplay-wise), but the story, world-building and especially the draw of choosing the characters you loved the most and being able to develop them as characters and units in the ways you saw fit made me love the game, and sold me completely on the idea of choosing whom the "protagonists" of the story were - which definitely sounds silly in retrospect, but FE has and still does inspire such imagination in me that it's definitely comparable on an emotional level to Baldur's Gate's ability to let you choose who's in your party and whom the story's main characters effectively are. It was obviously on a much more diminutive level, but in part of that was why I grew to adore Boyd so much, whom to this day is my favorite character in all of fiction and a massive emotional inspiration for how I act in the present.
Radiant Dawn I soon played after having a copy of it lent to me by my cousin, and to this day it's my favorite game of all time. I know it's not perfect as it has some flaws in the pacing, story and unit balance, but the game was such a blast gameplay-wise and on such an epic scale that I couldn't help but love it, nevermind my wholesale enjoyment of the game's story alongside Tellius' excellent worldbuilding. It's a game that overall really colored my experiences to the present and what I feel should be the standard of something that's fun as a whole. I'm fully aware it's not perfect and it's certainly not mechanically the best game of all time, but it's certainly my favorite on an emotional level and a lot of my beliefs in game development come from this game, if not most of it.
And then, after being disappointed by Awakening, Fire Emblem Fates again made me love the series like I did when I first played RD. While the story was a mess for reasons covered ad nauseum already, the characters and gameplay stuck with me to the present, and I daresay Fates would have one of the best casts in the series if it wasn't for 3H on a mechanical level beating it out. And I think that even today the game can be seriously underrated, given though the story writing was bad I've extracted a lot of enjoyment from the support writing, and it supplemented with the campaign made it a lot more enjoyable than I would've had it be otherwise.
Funny thing is, though, I'm very much the kind of person who thinks characters are what define any game's story; I probably wouldn't care nearly as much for Fire Emblem if it wasn't for the cast so influencing me to the very present, and I cannot be thankful enough for that. I even really loved the permadeath mechanic, a mechanic I normally dislike due to me not liking ironman or hardcore runs with the risk of losing progress upon death (by far one of my biggest gaming pet peeves), by using it to tie into what I feel is Fire Emblem's central narrative element of how important life is to both us and the world the game takes place in, given the soldiers in your hands are all people, with emotional qualities, characteristics, dreams, aspirations, relationships - they're all decisively human, and that's what ends up helping distinguish it from most other strategy games for me. That very real investment I had in the cast and being able to choose who's in my final party is a very big reason why I love the games as much as I do, and probably why it'll always go with me to my dying days.
Of course, naturally, I wanted to see if anyone would feel otherwise. I felt compelled to show my emotions on how much the cast made me love everyone and the stories I'd love to share, so I went on GameFAQs come December 2015, and, well...
...well, let's just say, because my first real introduction to the fandom was during the height of Fire Emblem Fates, it was definitely being baptized by fire.
It definitely had an influence on me with how much sheer vitriol virtually every community had for Fates from then onwards, and I'm ashamed to admit I was sucked into that vitriol, and not what's now my second favorite FE in the series - everything, from discourse on perceived idiocy to certain gameplay and story choices, to the repeated exaltation of certain characters for what felt to me as pretty shallow reasons while hating others regardless of their actual quality as a character for gameplay reason, and, perhaps most distressingly, the Fire Emblem fandom's love for simply having a narrative the fandom could go by: a consensus. It feels like there's rarely any actual discussion or challenges being made to the status quo until they let you say how you feel on the matter, and I don't say that merely because of my experiences with what the FE fandom hated at the time.
It not only actively shut out any discussion or at least strongly discouraged what people wanted to be said and acted extremely passive aggressive or toxic to anyone who feels differently, it spread from sites like this and Serenes Forest to even sites like 4chan, a site that's supposed to have equal representation for all opinions rather than just letting there be a unified narrative... and given how much cynicism was baked into the fandom all because the fandom feared the series was losing it way, and just how much harassment, allowance of narrative preservation and general disregard for anyone who doesn't "fit in", I'm going to say it outright, merely going by my observation of some of the most "toxic" gaming fandoms I've been in from Smash to League of Legends to many, many other fighting games with an ever-shifting metagame or what-not:
Fire Emblem perhaps has one of the most passive-aggressive and hostile fandoms I think in the entire industry. And I don't say that lightly; I generally do feel that between how much dismissal of even the slightest critique on the "approved" stuff, and even the slightest praise on the "disapproved" stuff, there is, to the point that Three Houses' unification of the fandom hasn't even really ended the problem altogether so much as having mollified it and let the cycle continue itself, makes it really abhorrent to me how much this fandom tries to control the narrative so much against any and all dissenting opinions while, for ages, allowing a select few people to effectively decide what everyone else thinks on even the "equal opportunity" sites like 4chan. And when 4chan has gotten in on the act for years, it doesn't feel like it's a site problem so much as a major community problem.
This post is going to cover effectively four things in total: the first of which being what exactly lends credence to "anti-discussion", as I call it, then how that applies to the fandom from a gameplay perspective, then how that applies to the fandom from a writing perspective, and then finally how it affects people and how it can be changed through accepting others. Because it really, really does feel, to me, that the Fire Emblem community has a really bad problem with accepting things that go against what's held as acceptable or what's not, and I feel if the fandom has any chance of growing, it needs to enable discussion on a larger scale. Which is why I write this, largely due to feeling the emotional urge to talk about this given I care a lot about the fandom, and actively had my own emotional experiences with it too. So with that in mind... let's begin.
Part 1: What's Anti-Discussion?To best answer that question, I do feel it needs to be clarified what does or does not quality as that, given one thing I don't want to be a take-away from this is using this in tandem to deflect criticism of things that deserve criticism. Or, in short: I do think the Fire Emblem fandom has an adept ability with criticizing or praising things for justifiable reasons.
I really, genuinely don't think that the fandom doesn't do anything for absolutely no reason. Popularity and unpopularity can and does happen on a level of consensus on what the fandom agrees or not, and that extends virtually everywhere from what the fandom agrees isn't a good thing to what it absolutely does agree is a good thing. Regarding some of the worst and best stories in the FE fandom, for instance, many people want to encourage accurate transmission of information and dispel misinformation in order to let people have a clear-cut take on how they feel on the matter and why they do. I think all communities, not just fandoms, need to do this to remain functional, because without even a shred of objectivity there could be total anarchic rules on what's acceptable or not at best, or subversive elements can and will try to upend the nature of the fandom at worst. So let me just immediately clarify in tandem that people have a good reason to want to correct others regarding what they've got wrong or praise them for what they've got right, and this I definitely get; it's a lot easier to keep track of something on a statistical level than on a subjective and emotional level inherently, and Fire Emblem is, first and foremost, a numbers game. It's a game that many people who engage in crunch would find very rewarding, and by those same metrics the Fire Emblem fandom is home to a lot of people who would very much reward playing for the most optimal results or having a general consensus on what's "good" or "bad" solely by looking at the data and compartmentalizing it as such. That, I do find understandable; fandoms like that really aren't for me, as despite having a capacity for crunch I was always more of a storytelling and emotions kind of guy, but I definitely get the appeal of it on an inherent level.
Thing is, though, many, many fandoms with this mentality also try to compartmentalize things that can't be just explained with numbers and an Excel spreadsheet. XCOM's a great example of this; for many, it's a tactics game like Fire Emblem, but for many others it's also the cause of being able to create your own stories with your favorite units, customize them entirely and grow supremely attached to them through the story's narrative that emerge from every tactical win and defeat. XCOM is an excellent story generator, so you're very likely going to find people who won't always use someone who's simply better than them tactically because of an emotional attachment to another unit, and would try their best to have them grow as a result.
This doesn't just extend to gameplay either; people aren't rational creatures and cannot always be made to do something they "should" do with 100% conciseness. I totally get people who want to maximize total efficiency and be very, very quick to chastise or admonish irrational decisions or decisions you strongly disagree with, people I think need to realize people can't always be counted to not do something irrational or go against expectations 100% of the time; what's always the logical decision isn't always the right one from an emotional standpoint, and ironically, I think the Fire Emblem fandom can get extremely emotional when it wants to, but generally has a problem of rarely compartmentalizing what isn't "seen", so to speak; what isn't there, well, isn't there, so why bother to try to add more depth to the circumstances if there's nothing to be had that serves as evidence? But, Fire Emblem naturally has plenty of supports locked behind their character interactions, and what one would immediately dismiss as a one-note character very often forgets what's there to the individual than anything relative to a spreadsheet or what-not. Which I get; it's infinitely harder to keep track of emotions than something like facts and numbers, as I've stated before.
Still, to continue the XCOM example, there seems to be a major difference between XCOM and Fire Emblem: XCOM, like a lot of other of these character-driven strategy games, acknowledge there isn't really much fun in doing things by the number without some degree of creativity thrown in the mix, such as the fandom wholesale embracing the Viper memes come XCOM: Chimera Squad. Fire Emblem is... well, to be blunt, kind of an isolate with how it clearly tries to think in terms of numbers and consenses, and I'm not saying that all Fire Emblem fans do that or even most, but a lot of the general agreements from the hardcore fandom on what's quality or not comes from this mindset...
...which of course, finally, brings me to the question and point of Part 1: what is anti-discussion? Anti-discussion is when there's already an agreed on consensus on what the fandom thinks is right, either from an emotional or logical perspective; keep in mind one doesn't have to think in terms of numbers to want to do this, because anti-discussion is effectively taking that consensus and beating to death any opinions that try to disagree with it or even raise critique to the idea of there being even some dissent in those opinions than 100% agreement on the matter. Emotions do this a lot, and regularly so, but Fire Emblem is perhaps unique in that the fandom tries to compartmentalize decisions in a solely irrational factor than consider that, sometimes, people can't be expected to always do things according to plan, either due to neuroses or what-not; what's best for that, then, is understanding why people do the way they do and trying to emphasize with them on how they and the person with the consensus can do better; it's a mutual agreement that supplements honesty, which is crucial to enable a healthy, even level of discussion going.
Which Fire Emblem, ironically, almost never does. In fact, if we're to measure fandoms based on how much it has an air of anti-discussion there, I think Fire Emblem is perhaps one of the most broken fandoms out there by virtue of how much it tries it's damndest to push out or aggressively "correct" anyone who feels differently. Which I, of course, was guilty of in the past, I will admit. But the thing that drives this is some degree of emotion, which is what's ironic: that a fandom that subscribes itself to what's set in stone can so readily get emotional when something that goes against the "narrative" pops up. It's that level of emotional response and irreconcilable views that leads to what I think most if not all of the problems in the fandom spawn from, and which can be fixed if a more open-minded response is given.
So by that extension, in short, anti-discussion is there already being a consensus and a willingness to try to silence any critique of that consensus, for it's what the fandom has "agreed" on. Which, believe me, I will come back to in a bit; for now, though, I have every intent on discussing the natural consequences of this sort of mentality, starting from a gameplay perspective.
Part 2: What Are the Consequences, Gameplay-Wise?Several, if I should note. But all of them fall into one category: measuring worth of a character in the game or exacerbating their goodness or badness solely based on their quality of a unit.
Naturally, this is admittedly something that by itself is kind of inevitable. Humans cheer on when someone does well, and boo when somebody doesn't do well. It's a major reason why, despite me understanding the appeal of fighting games and what-not, I have zero interest in them due to entire constructed characters' worth being determined by how much they can actually do to fight. It also applies in many online competitive games like Overwatch, League of Legends, and so on and so forth. There's absolutely a degree of mechanical movement put into gauging what's "worth" it and what's not, and that characterizes a lot of decisions and meta-gaming based on one player finding an unbeatable strategy and a dozen-fold adopting that strategy likewise.
Fire Emblem is absolutely no exception. As anyone in the gameplay-leaning side of the fandom would tell you, Fire Emblem is definitely the kind of metagame that highly prioritizes, due to the fact any unit can turn out "good", how fast you get there and how much you bring to the table in important things like the Move stat or bases. By those metrics, the fandom has pretty much agrees that fliers and mounts have historically been some of the best classes in the game, archers and armors some of the worst, and most every other class somewhere in between based on whether or not they can actually bring something to the table. Again, this is something that's inevitable by default, as people can decide pretty damn easily based on what's naturally good units or not, and as I will go into detail more later on, it's perfectly natural to like units that actually do shit while being frustrated with what doesn't do well.
However, there's a very important distinction I want to make, and something that I think ties back to what I said about Overwatch, League of Legends or most other fighting games like Smash or what-not; all of those games have a shifting metagame. What's the king of today isn't always going to be the king of tomorrow, and naturally unit worth can definitely shift and fluctuate to the point that what was formerly top-tier has fallen from grace, as someone like Takumi from Heroes can accentuate. And honestly, I'd say that's absolutely for the best: not only does it always encourage some variation in the metagame and continues debate in a healthy, constructive manner, it actually would help encourage people to look at things from a more constructive standpoint they wouldn't look at otherwise: after all, if a metagame is constantly shifting, then playable characters, fighters or heroes or what-not who suck now could very well get a balance buff, which I think at least makes it so there's some appeal to the discussion overall; and that, at the very least, I can definitely respect. Because it shows that there's not only some level of evolution, but a willingness to look past first impressions and even come to appreciate what someone on the lower-tiers can do versus otherwise. It also has the addition of basically ensuring that characters would have qualities beyond first impressions as a gameplay aspect that people would be willing to look at, which is crucial to ensuring the propagation of discussion on the matter in a healthy, contributing factor.
All of this, I feel, is what Fire Emblem lacks, and very badly so. Completely independent of character development, personalities or any such related growth of the character, a unit who is god-tier will quickly shoot to the top of fan favorites regardless of how, where or why they're great to begin with aside from simply being a really good tactical choice, while some of the worst units will basically become more noted for being shitty units than anything related to their character.
Which, frankly, is just bad faith in general, and a prime reason why I think discussion on Fire Emblem is a lot less willing to fluctuate and evolve as opposed to beating on the head anyone who criticized these characters. Now don't get me wrong, as I've clarified earlier, it's entirely a given that people can like a character because they're simply a good unit, or dislike a character because they're a bad one; Fire Emblem is a unique game series in that it's welcoming to not just story fans, but gameplay fans, and it's because of this that it was kind of inevitable that people would love units like Seth, Haar and Jill because they're badass units, and if they were already great characters, their popularity is exacerbated because they're also a good unit (Jill) because being a bad unit would be seen as an irrefutable flaw that should "show" anyone to go with literally any alternative than acknowledge the fact people can always be found to do irrational emotional decisions based on attachment, personal experience or what-not.
And frankly, regarding this spread of topic, anti-narrative gets really bad whenever people try to even jokingly suggest they dislike Seth, Haar and Jill - and frankly, the fandom's adoration of them without being willing to consider the nuances of them have actually pushed me away from them than made me care even a little bit; I'm now a lot more likely to bench them due to biases to prove I don't need them or don't want them than give them a chance. Because I already know they're some of the best units in the series, but I can't bring myself to care because trying to be critical of them goes against the "narrative," and that's in need of something that can always be corrected.
The inverse, perhaps to a lesser degree, applies to infamously bad units like Amelia, Wendy and Sophia and so on. Now while I feel Wendy and Sophia kind of lack any notable character to them, the fact people are more willing to associate Amelia by being a god-awful unit (which I get, let me clarify; she's not good at all) than being a character is what I find so supremely irritating, given a lot of Amelia's character outright rivals Jill in terms of being a quality character, yet it in return dismissed because she's a bad unit. And so what? Again, people shouldn't be expected or, God forbid, "corrected" to make the rational choice, because maybe some people play FE due to emotional attachment and the satisfaction of taking a trash unit and making them good against the odds!
Hell, I'll even say that I can say without a doubt that Haar, Seth and Jill would almost certainly be nobodies if they were bad units in their home games, because it feels at time people are willing to care more about them being a unit than them actually having qualities beyond the superficial. Which is supremely frustrating, as you just can't bring this up without attracting people who are going to go "UM ACTUALLY" and act incredibly passive-aggressive in a means to make you see the consensus. Which, again, I stress: people don't always make logical choices, and they can definitely make choices based on emotional attachment to these characters and qualities beyond the superficial than anything relative to their unit quality.
In fact, it gets to the point I wonder sometimes why we even care about units being good or bad, because I feel that when measuring a character than a unit, superficial elements should be irrelevant until an understanding of the character's base personality can be reached. And that's what's supremely frustrating: they don't just try to enforce this consensus, in many other cases the consensuses fail to go beyond the depths of things that are superficial like first character impressions or usability as a unit to instead focus on those exact superficial qualities, qualities that - due to FE being usually quite self-contained regarding its settings - you rarely have an excuse not to do research on the matter... or hell, if you can't be bothered to do that, look up on the Wiki about characters' supports than make judgements that only go surface deep. It's a problem I feel exists in other fandoms to as well (Ohya's really only shat on in Persona 5 for having shit Confidant bonuses, and the pain will never end being Ayane from Persona 4's biggest fan), but nowhere near as badly as I've seen it in the FE fandom.
Which is why, I really do ask: why not just do thing independent of the consensus and just use who you like? Yes, there's naturally an overlap between "units I like" and "units that are good," but I almost never feel that's a justification to act passive-aggressive about it even when someone's saying some incorrect information: you could very well just lightly remind them that their opinion doesn't match up with evidence than get extremely emotional whenever someone dissents, which dissent, no matter how justified it is, is inevitable, and going to spout up to the point that actively trying to repress it I feel is really, really dumb.
And trust me, we're getting back to that level.
As a final note, it's also why I have way more respect for someone like Axe and Pikachu in the Melee metagame than any one of the Fox or Falco mains; it's shows something regarding emotional dedication, and persevering regardless of the odds. And that's almost certainly something I can respect a lot more than people who play with the top-tiers without really deciding to go beyond surface-level impressions. And that I can respect, because it forces that person to act resourceful than just make use of something that's usually braindead easy to use on a competitive level.
Part 3: What Are the Consequences, Story-Wise?From here on, it definitely gets a lot more subjective, but again, that's pretty inevitable when dealing with story elements in any narrative that isn't so bad it literally fails to find any niche. Now do note that I've already covered this in detail beforehand, so if you want to get longer thought processes on the matter than an abridged summation, I strongly recommend you check out those links, because they basically say what I will say in this section here, and generally with a lot more detail than here.
Now, I suppose I should say outright as a bit of a note that I'm a huge Fire Emblem Fates fan, and this would be pretty obvious if you did a rap history check on me; I wrote fanfics, commissioned art, and much to my ever-lasting shame, was once a pretty blatant apologist on the matter despite having good intentions that paved the road to hell in a way that was clear to anyone not my idiotic teenage self at the time. So naturally, having thoroughly enjoyed the gameplay, characters and even unironically the story so much, I went to see the fandom's response on the matter, and was quite admonished when I literally came to realize everywhere in the fandom there was a hate circlerjerk and outright unwelcomeness of people who liked Fates everywhere, even in places that are normally equal-opportunity like 4chan.
Now it's gone into more detail regarding my previous essay What Causes A Reaction: How Fire Emblem Fates' Infamy Lingers Today, but the gist of why Fates proved to be such a tumultuous and chaotic time period in the fandom can be summed up in three factors, one being a super-group: fears that the franchise was going down the wrong path, general outrage to the many, many controversies that surrounded the game before and during launch, and the story detail regarding Conquest's narrative of Corrin subjugating an entire nation to expose Garon, which MANY saw as an incomprehensible plot point from a logical stand-point and was furious when they realized none of the characters would be properly addressed for it. Which by all metrics, I do get; Fates was a very controversial game for many, in no short part due to that spoiler bit proving to be the spark that lit the fire for one very specific reason: the fandom seeing no reason why anyone should do incorrect or irrational decisions on a matter and going on to admonish them for it.
Now that isn't a defense of Fates' writing, as I can agree it's got some problems with how it tries to convey its pacing and the overuse of plot-devices to get the point across. But given how Fates was a game that was so radically different from previous installments yet too similar to Awakening, given how the fandom in general strongly believes in logical consensus and abiding by facts than personal experience, and given the advent of Corrin's choice was something many being strongly disagreed with in the fandom, and you have a recipe that, independent of the fandom the game's acquired and its massive success, brought up hell unleashed to anyone who spoke of the game positively, regularly citing an idiot plot that by no means should've rewarded the characters for doing illogical actions...
...which I get, but again: people aren't logical beings, inherently. We can't always be made to decide to do the rational thing a lot of the time, and part of being human is learning to confront these mistakes and change ourselves than try to change the world around us. I will admit, I don't think Corrin's decision is even THAT illogical given the Nohrian royals were the only family he's known, and his decision in Chapter 15 to go along with Azura's plan I actually got because the alternative was sticking to your ideals and very likely getting yourself killed under a Machiavellian and militarist regime, which I actually personally admire Corrin for due to how much he calmly takes responsibility and doesn't justify his actions. Don't get me wrong, it absolutely had problems as a story enumerated ad-nauseum below, but I personally liked it a lot due to how much it spoke to me personally. Which I get why it didn't for others, but yeah.
Naturally, though, the fandom didn't respond kindly to this attempt at all, due to gameplay-fans who normally looked at the story and was fine with it seeing as total irrationality at best, with story-fans feeling largely the same way on top of the numerous overuse of plot devices, so where Fates tried to please both camps, it pleased neither, and because of the fact it felt like IntSys wasn't listening due to the many Fates alts in Heroes and Warriors' overabundance of Fateswakening characters, it naturally led to the utter oppression of any talk regarding Fates in a positive light, with people rambling on and on about how much Fates sucks, the characters suck, the story sucks... you get the idea.
Now, that brings me back to anti-narrative once more; it's perfectly fine to complain about something that proves controversial when done in moderation. A game like Danganronpa V3, for instance, was supremely controversial in the Danganronpa fandom for it's ending, and yet the game still has a huge fandom that even the old guard of that community avoids in trying to actively silence on the matter; it encourages discussion regardless of personal feelings on the matter, and that I can at least respect... and that's something the Fire Emblem fandom struggled a lot to do with anyone who genuinely liked Fates, doing anything they could to bully them out of speaking out due to this ironically-irrational fear enabling their presence would cause a permanent shift in the fandom. Which I got, but that in no ways justifies that kind of response for four years straight, and with barely any positivity laid on top of it as well as disinformation being spread like wildfire.
Which again ties back to how a large part of the FE fandom's consensuses aren't just passive-aggressively enforced at a sword's point, but very often only surface-value due to the same superficial problems that plague the fandom in a gameplay sense. My other essay with the more casual title of "I don't know about you, but I think it's time we stopped associating Fates' cast with it being a bad one when it's quite the opposite" went into a lot of detail on why I feel Fates' cast is only hated because of a lack of exposure or common knowledge to some of the best supports in the entire game, the sheer wealth of them, and how fandom favorites like Nyx only got attention because a community giant in the form of Ghast Station bothered to cover them once. Which I find still kind of silly, because people should go out to learn more, especially if that content's in the game they've paid $40 for shell price value! I won't go into a lot of detail otherwise given I've already done a ton on those two essays, but let me just say that I do think there needs to be of willing to not just understand why there's differing opinions on something, but how that even a lot of the consensus doesn't take in anything beyond superficial first impressions.
Which I get; people are definitely inclined to judge other people in real life by first impressions too. Lord knows I am guilty of that at times, but that doesn't mean it should be the norm, especially a medium that, as far as I know, won't cause psychological trauma from emotional betrayal or ruined friendships that makes up size up on first-hand impressions, because we don't want to be hurt. And that's a major reason why I feel inclined to speak up; if people like Fates or, God forbid, even like the story, let them be! Sure, you're absolutely right in pointing out why they are wrong about some of the story's more critical flaws, but the better part of valor is letting that individual thought exist than try to oppress it instinctively.
It's really something that doesn't need to just change. Because I feel we as a fandom are definitely better than that.
Part 4: Summation, Or: How Can We As a Community Do Better?I write this largely from the heart when I say this, because I get why people are so intent to not spread blatant misinformation in any community, because lord knows letting anything slide is just as bad as letting nothing slide: nothing really has changed.
Even as Three Houses brought in so many new fans and effectively placated the fandom since its days bashing anyone who dissented, I really do think it's inevitable before the next cycle will begin when another FE inevitably and strongly disappoints and triggers another heralding of crusading. Sacred Stones had it, Radiant Dawn had it, Awakening and Fates had it... and I'm genuinely kind of tired of it, to be honest. I'm tired because I feel that wanting to establish a consensus is fine when it isn't actively trying to derail or decredit any sort of nuance, any sort of discussion beyond what's already agreed, because virtually nothing changes in this fandom. It's the fandom that either sees Edelgard or Rhea as objectively evil, the same fandom that wants a Golden Route despite people crusading against that in Fates due to it not being "deserved", and it's in turn a vicious cycle that enables some of the fandom's biggest and most shining names to prove in turn they're a bunch of assholes who can say whatever and have everyone follow them to the grave.
Mangs and Chaz Aria, despite the natural backlash Mangs' blatant racism and Chaz's controversies has brought, aren't exiled from the FE community at large and continue to make content like nothing's happened. Because nothing changes, nobody is allowed to criticize things that don't fit the narrative, and that in turns means virtually nothing is called out in terms of behavior because the status quo and what's considered right is more important than what people individually think is right. I'm fully well-aware there's fandoms worse than Fire Emblem by a long shot, if one needs to shuffle through My Hero Academia, Undertale, Homestuck, Voltron or what-have-you if one wants a taste of pure hell, but that doesn't mean the Fire Emblem fandom isn't simultaneously both the most consensus-heavy yet strained fandom I've ever seen, outside of what is likely an even more authoritarian hell in the form of Dota 2. And I'm not saying that all or even close to most of the Fire Emblem fandom is like this, as many I've met have proven extremely good friends in retrospect... but we're still capable of doing better. We can do better, I feel.
I think, overall, even if you believe something is wrong, the best you can do is tell them otherwise politely, and if they disagree, let them be; nobody has to control how people feel or make assumptions to correct on what's the "right" choice, because the better part of valor, as I've said before, is letting people deal with the consequences of their choices. We don't have to be so utterly against criticism on what's agreed because that's what breeds people with blatantly racist and prejudicial tendencies like Mangs to reach the top, nevermind what ends up giving birth to any and all kinds of abusers in any position of power; I strongly believe we as a fandom can be better than that, but that cycle will only change itself if people try to be tolerant of what they disagree with and think calmly and reply with an empathetic response than to think reactively and reply with a passive-aggressive response; how we respond to others, to other outliers, is a major reflection on the fandom, and whether things can ever change or not depends on a need to accept others for as long as their own beliefs don't infringe on the right for others to live or be happy with being their own person, of their own choices.
That's what I think. And I know we can do better than this.
And that's all I really want to say on the matter. I apologize if this essay didn't turn out so good, as I was really passionate about this topic, ironically; I can attest from a lot of experience on the matter how this is endemically a problem to a fandom that seems reliant on what's set in stone to try to educate people than try to naturally allow change to flourish, and I do genuinely believe the fandom is full of good people. Which makes it more important to think for ourselves than let what others try to pressure us into thinking take route.
Otherwise, I'd really appreciate it if you left your thoughts in the comments below, and be respectful on the matter. I really look forward to discussing on this more given enough time, so share your thoughts below. Thank you. :)
Tanks Unite Against Toxicity!
Alright, first up, let me admit that I don't know WoW tanks. Or WoW. But what I do know is market inefficiencies and how to exploit them. Tanks and healers since time immemorial are always in demand, as more people find it fun to melt faces than to be punched in the face or sew faces back on. As such, it seems that in WoW, many, many more people want to DPS than to tank. And, since it's online and people online suck, many DPS folks abuse their tanks. It also seems that tanks have a higher learning curve as they have to know the optimum routes through dungeons as they'll be doing the majority of the pulling and drawing of aggression. If that difficult, time consuming job isn't done properly, that sets up a recipe for abuse.
So, you have a situation where a minority of the playerbase is simultaneously the most important piece of the community, held to the highest standard, and yet also the most abused. Hidden in there is the market inefficiency: you're the most important part of the group. As such, you can be very choosy about which groups you want to play with. And I say play because this is a game, and games are supposed to be fun. If your group is not fun and feels more like work, go play with someone else.
The difficultly lies in figuring out, when randoming, who is fun. The current strategy of doing your best, being human and making a mistake, and then discovering if your group is toxic halfway through a dungeon is obviously not working. You could track yourself what DPS was fun or not, but in a community this large that'd be a Herculean task. Blizzard could implement a Dota-like reputation system but that would require them to be competent.
What you have left is psychology and the limited in-game tools at your disposal. First, realize you have the power. If one person in your group is toxic, kick them. If the group doesn't want to kick a toxic player, the group is toxic and you should leave. You can find another group instantly since tanks are in high demand, leaving the jerks to wait half an hour for the next tank while you're off and playing with the next group that actually wants to have fun. The moral is you should never have to play with jerks.
So, how do you discover if a group or player is toxic? Ask for help. In my decades of playing online games, players who are willing to help noobs are the best ones to play with. Players who abuse noobs suck. Pretending to be a newbie when initially entering an instance, whether or not this is your 100th run through, is the fastest way to suss out jerks.
A caveat of course. If you're entering a high-level raid and/or one that has time-dependent loot and you do this, it might be reasonable for the group to kick you, since their loot is dependent on the overall knowledge and ability of the entire group. Then again, if they did offer to guide even in that sort of high-leverage situation, those would be people with whom I'd love to run.
In conclusion, just because you're playing a punching bag doesn't mean you have to be a punching bag. Screw toxic players. If tanks immediately kicked or left them, instead of spending their time spewing insults at people doing their best, jerks would be stuck watching a loading screen. If every tank did this, the toxic players would just always be waiting and would never actually finish a dungeon, which would make things better for everyone.