On one hand you have the person who puts guild leader in World of Warcraft on a job application and another where a gamer turned an idea into a million dollar company. My take is it does not have to be the best or the worst outcome, there is a lot of middle which can allow you to game and take care of the important stuff.~J.A. Laraque
Gaming in the Spotlight
Remember when even mentioning that you played computer games was met with weird looks? Maybe not, but if you are a gamer in your 40’s to 50’s you might remember when people just could not understand how you could sit looking at a screen all day, as if there wasn’t this thing called television.
As games became more popular in the 90’s more and more people got used to seeing, mostly kids, playing on a home console system. The thought was that it was a child’s toy like any other, all the while gamers from a past generation were helping to push computer gaming into the forefront.
With the holy trinity of arcade games, home console systems and computer games all being popular at once gaming stepped into the spotlight. You began to hear of the senior citizen who could beat Pac-Man with one quarter or the CEO who played Doom before meetings. There still was a push back to gaming however, and many people still saw it as an immature activity or something only geeks and nerds did.
When MMO’s arrived many new gamers were created. While games like Everquest still attracted more experienced gamers it was easier to play games such as City of Heroes and World of Warcraft that brought in a new group of gamers, ones who had never gamed before. Now in one family you could find every member playing a video game, from Mario Cart to Guitar Hero, but this new exposer also brought along its owns issues and stereotypes.
As more people played video games more news reports talked about people neglecting their responsibilities be it at home, work or school. People cared about gaming and the media was fascinated if not late to the party and with coverage of people becoming sick or even dying because of a video game we had a new rallying cry against video games that had not been seen since the fight over video game violence of the 90’s.
The idea of the nerdy gamer came roaring back as a picture was painted of the loser World of Warcraft player living in his or hers parents basement. We saw documentaries of people needing help for gaming addition because of how video games ruined their lives. The attacks did not just come from the outside, but from other gamers who saw certain MMO players as not real gamers or people who made gamers look bad.
Then came social games like Farmville and mobile games like Bejeweled and later, Angry Birds. Now, almost everyone was playing something and whether or not they considered themselves a gamer did not matter, a game was being played and the industry was as strong as ever.
The lazy, immature or loser label however has not disappeared. Just recently a state Senate candidate was attacked by her opponent for playing World of Warcraft. Fliers were sent out showing her character, an Orc Rogue, and various postings of hers on forums that discussed the online game.
“I don’t understand why I’m being targeted for playing online games when all I’ve done is campaign on the issues.” She said and went on to say; “There are a lot of these misconceptions about people who play online games. I’ve played with people who are retired, college professors and lawyers. I’ve only ever played with adults.”
She also stated that she hardly ever logs into the MMO anymore and her game of choice is now Angry Birds. However, her defense is pretty normal for many gamers. Often when confronted for playing games the response is that they do not play that much anymore or that the specific game in question is no longer fun for them so they now play another game, normally one that is more socially acceptable, as crazy as that sounds.
Anyone who follows gaming culture has most likely seen both sides. On one hand you have the person who puts guild leader in World of Warcraft on a job application and another where a gamer turned an idea into a million dollar company. My take is it does not have to be the best or the worst outcome, there is a lot of middle which can allow you to game and take care of the important stuff.
While it may be beating a dead horse to state this, anything can become too much be it sports, food, even working out and yes, gaming. Not everyone is going to turn their StarCraft playing into a E-Sports career just as the World of Warcraft player does not have to have pale skin and poop in a sock.
Just as people have a television show they love to watch and must see the same is with our games and we should be proud of what we love. You can balance recreation and responsibilities and you should never deny what you enjoy as long as it is not hurting others and you are not hurting yourself.
Video games are in the spotlight as are those who play them. We need to show the truths of gaming from all sides, the good and the bad and still proclaim that this is who we are and we are not changing based on negative stereotypes and attacks.