Thomas Middleditch of Silicon Valley fame got some flak this weekend for allegedly being unfunny while hosting the Blizzcon costume contest and mispronouncing some Blizzard characters’ names.
The video of his original standup bit is not online, so it’s difficult to parse exactly what people found so offensive. It seems he had a few self-deprecating “gamer living in mom’s basement” type jokes and some that targeted Blizzard fans directly.
The rest of the contest is available online, however, and aside from mispronouncing names, his performance as host isn’t that bad and gets a few laughs.
The online reaction to Middleditch’s performance is over the top, and seems to have trouble pinning down the exact reason Middleditch sucked.
Here on the left we have someone calling him a Gamergater.
@SupernoodlesTV It doesn't help that he did come off as sexist and gamergate supporter. His moderation is a trainwreck.
— Yuino (@YuinoSery) November 5, 2016
And on the right he is labelled a social justice warrior.
— FreemiumFreebies (@FreemiumFreddy) November 5, 2016
Most just insulted him in a general sense.
— Battle @ BlizzCon (@BenFerguson89) November 7, 2016
Even more ridiculous was a thread in Blizzard’s forum which outright demanded a public apology from Middleditch to Blizzard fans.
“HEY Thomas! You are NOT ONE OF US!!” yelled one poster into their keyboard.
Then just 18 hours later a thread was made saying Blizzard fans owed Middleditch an apology.
“Are we the 1% of Video Gaming?” wrote another poster. “No riff-raff allowed in our exclusive club?. ‘Buh-butt he made fun of us!’ Nah. He largely made fun of stereotyping he himself has encountered as he mentioned when he used to do LAN-parties. And if you are seriously super offended because someone did a ‘Nerds in the basement’ joke, you might have some growing up to do.”
Middleditch (perhaps unwisely) decided to duke it out with his detractors on Twitter and basically got nowhere. He did get some support from last year’s host Jay Mohr who called Blizzcon attendees a collection of bullies, which also did not go over well.
— Jay Mohr (@jaymohr37) November 5, 2016
In an Instagram post however, Middleditch reaffirmed his gaming cred with a pic of his impressive battle station for a flying simulator, saying that just because he can’t pronounce the names of a bunch of Blizzard characters doesn’t mean he’s not a “real gamer.”
Got some flak for not being a "real gamer". Well, I may not play YOUR game but you probably don't play mine either. Unless you know how to cold start an A10 Warthog? Just remember, we are all on the same side and it's OK to poke fun at ourselves. It's important. When you grip your culture so tightly that it's sacrilegious to even comment on it, or mispronounce a video game character name in a slew of absurd fantasy names, you've ruined it. Part of me liked it when us nerds had to keep to the shadows, before it was all mainstream. Granted, I wouldn't have a career if that were the case but at least we'd all still be nice to each other because it was such a relief to find someone from the same tribe. Now it feels like some of us have banded together and just want to pay forward the bullying we received to someone who's not as 1337 h@x0r. I know games, pen and paper, cosplay, LARP'ing, whatever, is all really important to us…that doesn't stop you from having a sense of humor about it. Let's be fwendz d00dz.