• July 20, 2024

What being a gamer has taught me about the limits of democracy

 What being a gamer has taught me about the limits of democracy


Pure democracy, a civic structure in which a simple majority of citizens controls the coercive force of government, paves the way for abuse of the minority for the sake of the majority. No medium better illustrates this truth than video games designed for children.

Last night, my buddies and I were (semi-ironically) playing some Roblox together. The specific game we had engrossed ourselves in, a first-person shooter, features a “votekick” function that enables players to remove people from the game if the majority of those playing vote to do so.

The votekick system, as with democracy itself, was designed with good intentions in mind. In theory, it allows players to preserve the integrity of their gaming experience in the absence of moderators. For example, if someone is wall-hacking, aim-botting, or otherwise trolling the lobby, they can be voted out of the game and everyone can return to having fun.

However, as one could predict, Roblox’s votekick functionality is often abused.

In this particular instance, one of my friends on the opposing team was doing incredibly well, garnering something near 50 kills, and it was becoming increasingly annoying to play against him. Not only was he consistently killing my character, but he was single-handedly propelling the enemy team to victory. After briefly consulting with my teammates, among them the rest of my friends, we decided that kicking him from the game would both be funny and bolster our chances of winning the match. One of us initiated a vote to kick him, and it passed handily. We laughed, he raged, and that was that.

Obviously, this was not a justifiable action. It was in the majority’s interest, however, so it didn’t need to be reasonable for it to come to fruition.

The possibility that a group just barely representing the majority would pursue its interests through organized power at the expense of a minority is not confined to the world of online gaming — it’s a very real challenge that our government was designed to address.

Institutions such as the filibuster and the Supreme Court exist as a means to constrain popular sentiment when it unjustly threatens the rights or well-being of those not in power. Liberal efforts to democratize these fundamentally anti-democratic structures are deeply concerning as doing so would remove important checks that exist within our system.

Were Democrats to succeed in abolishing the filibuster, for instance, the Senate would become objectively more representative of the nation’s ideological preferences regarding the legislation it passes. That is not necessarily a good thing.

With such a slim majority in the chamber, the actions of the Democratic Party would likely come to mirror my own Roblox exploits. America being as polarized as it is, a Democratic Senate supporting policies that benefit their constituents to the detriment of everyone else is well within the realm of possibilities.

Just like Roblox players, the electorate is self-motivated. At times, it cannot be trusted to respect fellow citizens and thus must have its will tempered. The republican framework outlined by our nation’s founders ensures that minorities have a seat at the table when discussing political affairs. If being a gamer has taught me anything, it’s that handing absolute power to 50% of the population plus one, while at times humorous, rarely results in fair-minded resolutions.



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