I remember when I first started to game on the Internet.

“Oh no, he’s starting to talk about the past again.”

I’d dabbled with it over friends’ houses, but once my parents finally bought a computer for the homestead, the first thing I thought of was, “I can’t wait to start playing games on it.”

“Seriously, it’s like all he ever talks about. What is this, like… a dozen retro articles by now?”

That glorious 56k internet connection was a true peach back then. The way it whirred, crunched, and garbled to life when you connected was truly majestic.

The raw sound of data: simply wonderful.

“I don’t even know what he’s talking about now. He’s so old.”

“Yeah, I heard he just turned 30.”

We didn’t have two phone lines, either; so if you were online, you weren’t able to make or receive calls.

“Tyler, get off the computer! I have to make a call!”

But Mom! I’m in the middle of a “Quake II” match!

“Quake II”. That was my strawberry jam.

What’s a ‘Quake’?”

People want to complain about lag nowadays, but it was a constant struggle back then. Expected, even. But you got used to it, because you HAD to. It made you stronger.

“He’s talking like my Grandpa.”

Seriously, it threw in another variable you had to take into account. It’s less of an issue nowadays, but it was extremely common to play against people with better connections than you. You had to adapt and outsmart them if you wanted to win. They had the technological advantage, but you had the brains and the moxie. David vs. Goliath! Wander vs. The Colossi!

“Exactly like my Grandpa. Right down to the war hero stories.”

Voice chat? No one had that. You didn’t have a slurry of curses, racially charged hate-speech, and homophobic remarks to distract you from the fun.

When a match was over, you sent a nice message to someone and you played again immediately. It was completely anonymous. There were no gamertags, reputation system, or overlording service to police such things. Yet, people were nice, because that was the nice thing to do.

“Being nice is for losers. Git gud or go home, gramps.”

Alright, shut up, you horrible miscreant. Get out your iPhone and jerk off to some videos of teabagging in “Call of Duty” or waste your parents money on “Candy Crush Saga”. I’m done writing out your awful sentiments.

It’s people like my fictionalized modern gamer that make it so I rarely play anything online these days. The online environment is filled with so much hatred, arrogance, and toxicity that the games aren’t fun to play anymore.

What is enjoyable about spending an evening with people like that? Nothing. Nothing, at all.

I realize that the technology of online gaming has improved dramatically. On the surface, it should be a better experience. It’s not. The rapid spread of online gaming to the masses has given rise to a community that is intolerant, hateful, and incestuous.

I promise, this isn’t just a newly old man spouting nonsense. I genuinely find it harder and harder to play games online. Even my cherished “Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike” is full of people that act like they’re the greatest and send you nasty messages after a match, regardless of whether they win or lose. People online aren’t just bad sports, they completely lack respect.

Online gaming is supposed to be a social experience. It’s supposed to be about community and connectedness. A way to not only play with friends who don’t live close to you, but to also possibly find new friends, or to challenge yourself against others who are better than you.

That’s not what gaming online has turned into. In its current state, it’s mostly the world’s largest dick measuring contest. I mean that literally. I think people are using Kinect and The Playroom to measure dicks.

When the machines become sentient and strike back, they'll remember your Kinect dick measuring. They will ALWAYS remember.

When the machines become sentient and strike back, they’ll remember your Kinect dick measuring. They will ALWAYS remember.

I remember specific instances where people I was playing with would compliment and congratulate you on a match well-played or your particular skill with a weapon. “I can’t believe how accurate you are with the Rail Gun despite your high ping. It’s crazy!” Yeah, I had to predict where they were going to be. Forced me to learn patterns and habits a lot better.

Nowadays it’s more like, “fuk u n ur chetin gun!!!!!”

Maybe it’s because you had to go through a lot more effort to game online then. It wasn’t available for the “masses”. You had to want it. You had to learn command prompts for the games you were playing. You had to deal with connectivity issues. You had to deal with the fact that it might be a rough experience at times. There was no sense of entitlement. You WORKED to play the games.