When a pizza delivery arrives it’s warm and comforting and I eat so much because dang, it’s melted cheese on bread, and everyone feasts together in beautiful gluttonous harmony. But after we’re stuffed, walking the empty pizza box down four flights of stairs to the garbage just seems so hard, and so it sits on the kitchen counter for a day, maybe two, and then it gets propped up next to the recycling, and then I take out the recycling but the pizza box is all awkward and greasy so I just leave it. And after too long that delicious feast becomes embarrassing detritus that says “this place is inhabited by a puerile slob.”
And that pizza is internet humor. No matter how much we enjoy them at first, all jokes mold, but damned if they don’t stick around anyway. Lolcats, rage comics, doge-speak, saying “my wife” like Borat, references to anything popularized on Newgrounds—it’s time to bag all that up and send it to the landfill. And I’d love for the phrase “PC Master Race” to join them. It’s the moldiest of all.
It began as a joke from Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw (opens in new tab), who was mocking our elitist attitude with the internet’s favorite analogy: the Nazi analogy. That was years ago, but the phrase is still everywhere, said without any consideration (or perhaps understanding) of the historical context, without any consideration of the original context, and without any of the original self-mockery. It worked as a hyperbolic joke when it was first said as a hyperbolic joke, and I did think it was a little funny to embrace the criticism ironically—for a moment. Now it’s just moldy cardboard that a lot of PC gamers hold up as their identity (opens in new tab), and it’s getting uncomfortable.
When I see kids unironically boasting about their “master race” affiliation on forums, I cringe. And if you have to explain that your community isn’t about racial supremacy (rule #12 on the sidebar of the PC Master Race subreddit (opens in new tab)), then maybe you’ve chosen a poor name for your community.
We are not memes
I obviously realize that no one is actually saying that PC gamers are the preferred people of Hitler. That’s absurd, and it’s supposed to be absurd. It’s a joke. It just isn’t a joke worth keeping around at the expense of making people uncomfortable about the hobby we're supposed to be promoting—and, selfishly, I’d rather not look like a tasteless jackass. I’d be mortified if my friends and family thought I were part of something called the “PC Master Race.” They don’t get the context, and even if I explained it to them, a half-forgotten seven-year-old internet joke doesn’t expunge the historical meaning from the phrase, which refers to the Aryan race, which is a term still used by people with swastika tattoos. I think I’ll go ahead and distance myself from the Aryan Brotherhood, if you don’t mind.
This isn’t a plea for political correctness—not associating oneself with Nazi pastiches is just good living. It’s fun to treat our hobby like a club and build camaraderie, but I don’t think a reference to white supremacy is going to encourage club membership.
PC gaming’s image is uniquely in the hands of its community, and PC gaming as a “brand” shouldn’t be synonymous with a meme. Given the choice, would Xbox fans really want to be represented by Microsoft’s marketing? I doubt it (opens in new tab). And yet, with 300,000 subscribers on the PC Master Race subreddit, it seems we’ve chosen advice animals and MS Paint scribbles as our ambassadors. I know there are better ways to express our enthusiasm and creativity.
That said, I really do like the subreddit’s pleasantly welcoming primer (opens in new tab), which declares that “to join the glorious PC gaming master race, all you just need a PC that suits your gaming needs.” That’s nice! But that inclusivity is undermined by a cultish attitude which addresses everyone collectively as “brothers.” It’s in jest, but it hardly feels inviting, and for what? Old memes, screengrabs of “peasantry” (console owners saying things), and “dat GPU tho” plastered on a photo of a GTX 970? I can stay off Reddit if I don’t care for it, but the PC Master Race attitude has spread much further than that. It’s becoming our perceived identity.
I don’t want that. “Master Race” has nothing to do with my values as a PC gamer. It’s not about shunning or excluding—it’s about openness and freedom. Run a game at 8K if you want, or mod Santa Claus into Skyrim and deliver everyone presents, or build a giant multi-monitor flight simulator. That’s PC gaming, not xenophobic slang. We take jabs at the consoles here at PC Gamer, for sure, but there’s a difference between a bit of playful ribbing and merrily talking like fascists.
We need a new term. I proposed a few (opens in new tab): Resolutionaries? Fearsome Keyboard People? PC Thunder Cats? The GPUnion? They’re not a whole not better than the memes I’m making fun of, I know, but it’s a start. I just hope that next time you leave a comment you’ll consider replacing “PC Master Race” with something more creative, and I’m so sure we can be more creative than to make a Hitler analogy on the internet, a sea of Hitler analogies. When we finally move on, we can still smirk at 790p Xbox One games—we just won’t have to remind everyone of white supremacists when we do.