In online gaming communities, gamers can sometimes get a bit pedantic with their genre labels, occasionally to an obnoxious extent. It’s one of the immutable laws of the internet: scroll through the comments on any article or forum thread that mentions a hyper-specific descriptor such as “Metroidvania” or ‘Souls-like,” and you’ll find a handful of people quibbling over what games qualify as X or Not X, deploying paragraph after paragraph to support their claim. While these discussions can certainly be good-natured, and even mildly enlightening at times, they can often slide into the unproductive and even vicious.
Stay-at-home dad Chris Scruggs has his own way of protesting this scourge. As an avid Facebook user and self-proclaimed “shitposter,” he plunges into the depths of the comments on Kotaku posts with one goal in mind: loudly proclaiming that every game is a roguelike against all evidence to the contrary.
I first saw evidence of Scruggs’s work on the Facebook group for the video game satire site Hard Drive, which is perhaps best-known for their current promotion of presidential candidate Ace Watkins, touted as America’s potential “first gamer president.” Scruggs’s posts gathered an impressive number of likes within the group — nearly 200 on each — and his quest to mildly annoy clueless gamers the world over has become a sort of meta-joke within the group itself.
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“It comes out of sheer boredom, to be honest,” Scruggs says. “I’m a stay-at-home dad, so I guess I spend more time scrolling through Facebook than some people, and it just makes me feel like I’m losing my mind… I just saw so many people get really weird about the definition of roguelike and roguelites, it just made me want to see what would happen if I just started posting stuff that was really aggressively wrong. As it turns out, it didn’t really take much to get a response.”
While Scruggs admits that his antics are essentially a form of trolling, he says he always endeavors to keep it light and harmless, strictly for his own amusement. Even now, a few weeks after he revealed his crusade to the Hard Drive group, he’s still amazed at how little effort it takes to rile people up. He’s had similar success by claiming that “the dub is better” on posts from the anime streaming service Crunchyroll. (Many hardcore anime fans detest English dubs to a frankly baffling extent, and the “subs vs. dubs” debate often breaks out in the most unexpected of places.)
“What I really like to do is to get them to type really long paragraphs at me,” he says. “Often the stuff they’re saying isn’t even right, which says a lot. Then I’ll just reply and say something really short like, ‘no, you’re wrong,’ or something stupid like that… I also really like when they misspell roguelike as “rougelike.” Since I’m playing a character that’s supposed to be dumb, it feels weird to correct them, but I do sometimes anyway. A lot of people will catch on after a while, and there’s the occasional person who figures it out immediately, but there’s also people who just keep going and going, to the point where it’s not really funny for me anymore. I kinda worry about those people, to be honest.”
Scruggs cautions anyone against drawing any real conclusions about the nature of gaming culture from his endeavor, insisting that he just views it as a way to pass the time on social media. (He compares it to playing Super Smash Bros. as Kirby, floating to the top of the screen, and spamming the rock slam over and over — just a dumb joke.) He feels that most gamers are not as argumentative as these internet discussions suggest — rather, it’s the pedantic 10% that give the other 90% a bad name.
“I really don’t think most people who play games actually care about any of this stuff,” he says. “Some people seem to care about it a bit too much, though. At the point where you’re getting angry at someone over the internet for being wrong about a video game genre, that’s a little concerning.”