Is there a NEED to make fun of Gamers?

Is it misery loves company, the idea that because you may be at a place in your life that you are not happy you feel the need to lash out because it is not fair that they are in the same place that you are? Could it be that some cannot accept the fact that some people will choose to live their life completely different than yours or than the norm? ~J.A. Laraque

Is there a NEED to make fun of Gamers?

While there is less of it than there used to be, gamers in general are still a target for jokes, many from other gamers themselves. Now we all know a gamer that fits at least some of the stereotypes and since there are so many I am sure every one of us fits at least one. My question is not so much for gamers making jokes about one another. We understand that to be a gamer, especially on the internet, you have to be able to dish a joke and take one. Calling someone a pale-faced 10-year-old living in mom’s basement is just a standard joke some gamers use on others. What about non-gamers?

Gamer-Stereotype

I always found it a bit disrespectful when someone who depends on the gaming or geek community for revenue be it a game, movie, comic book or website, looks down on and even attacks people from that community. The HBO series, Entourage had an episode where the main character, Vincent, goes to Comic Con to hype his Aquaman movie. He and the other character’s, besides Drama, mock the attendees.  The character, Drama, who is the older brother of Vincent, at least had respect for those fans since his series, Viking Quest, was long cancelled, but still had fans.

I have been to plenty of conventions and can understand some of the rabid fans can get annoying, but it is one thing to be put off by some fans who go a little (or a lot) overboard. It is another thing to have an overall distain for the convention goers as a whole. Now if you know the series you know that Vincent did not like the idea of being in the movie in the first place. Tie that in with the fact that the other friends did not like Comic Con and that they loved to make fun of drama and you could understand why he had to make a point about how he did not like being there. Again, considering most of the attendees would help make or break his box office there should have been a general respect.

Now obviously that is television show, it is fiction, however it has been written about many times that many people who depend on geeks and gamers have almost a hatred for the community. Even if you look at the most annoying gamer or geek you would think if nothing else you would put on a smile when you meet fans who are not crazy and annoying, but what we see too often is these people look down on any fan and feel it is a waste of their time to be at conventions and interact with fans.

Now look at the non-gamer. You will often find that non-gamers can have an irrational hatred for gamers. I find myself in the middle of this many times as I love sports and outdoor activities so I will run into people who out of nowhere will begin putting down gamers and it is always the same stereotypes. As one of the people I was with went into a description about how gamers never take baths, don’t have a job, dropped out of school and have no lady in their life I asked him if he was happy with his life.  He looked at me puzzled. I asked him if he was happy that he doesn’t have sex very often anymore even though he is married and if he is happy that his hates his job and is underpaid and if he is happy spending his weekends visiting other couples that he himself frequently complain that they are boring.

His answer was, no, he wasn’t, but that is part of growing up and being a man. I asked him and what if you do not want to grow up and be a man. I saw his response coming. He said that he was contributing to society and the (made up) gamer wasn’t. When I asked how his lack of sex, dead-end job and boring friends contributed to society, he did not have an answer and was getting upset so I dropped it.

If this was a one-time or rare occurrence it would not have mattered to me, but since it happens so often and is talked about in gaming circles I wanted to know why. Why was there this need to create the worst of the worst gamer and use it as the general template to use against us all? While men and women playing together has been going on much longer, it was around the time of Everquest that you really began to see men and women playing a game for hours on end together. So many people met and became couples within EQ some gamers looked to it as a way to find gamer girls. Now obviously we also know about the couples who broke up due to EQ and World of Warcraft and some that ended once the game got old to them. However, you really saw evidence of gamers being in relationships and it working as well as any other relationship.

Today you have gamers of all types, you have some who are single, in relationships, married and have children and just like any other relationship you have the ups and downs, what works and what doesn’t. Yet, we use the idea of the lonely sexless gamer whenever we really need an attack point. Strangely enough I found that people who either did not want to get married and or have children also faced criticism and jokes from people who were more “traditional”.

Is it misery loves company, the idea that because you may be at a place in your life that you are not happy you feel the need to lash out because it is not fair that they are in the same place that you are? Could it be that some cannot accept the fact that some people will choose to live their life completely different than yours or than the norm?

The idea is that someone who really loves games and chooses to have that as their main source of entertainment during their free time must either lead to something bad or mean they must be missing out on all the awesome things “normal” people do. However, if this was really the case then why would non-gamers constantly bring this up? Do they need the worst stereotype to be true to justify their choices? Do they need to think the worst is true to feel better about themselves and their own lives?

I have a female friend that told me once that she did not like her husband to hang out with single guys because he might feel he was missing something. I found this interesting because in most television shows or movies the single guys are normally made to look either, foolish, pitiful or sad. Think of Barney from, How I meet your mother or the guys from the Big Bang Theory. The point is no matter how these people may act or how geeky or how much of a gamer or player, in Barney’s case, they are, they all long for what everyone else longs for. Is the idea of the gamer couple who makes it work or even the single gamer who truly enjoys his or hers life a threat?

When I first interviewed Jace Hall, here is one of the first things he said:

“I spent 15 years creating and developing video games. I grew up playing video games. I still play video games to this day. Since I truly am from the “video game culture” it has always bothered me that the “mainstream” media culture tends to depict the video game industry in somewhat superficial and negative ways.

The truth is that people who either play or make games are just like everyone else! There is a wide range of people who are gamers, and most of them don’t look like the way Hollywood depicts them.”

Geek and Gamer culture has been looked upon in a negative light for so long that perhaps it is just ingrained in many of us. At one time the idea of working in gaming, becoming a professional gamer and making a living was laughable and now it has the same risks and rewards of almost any other entertainment field. Just as at one time the idea of playing a comic book character was seen as joke is now becoming a role to fight for. Yet, we, the consumer are still the target of jokes and ridicule. You can watch sports or cable news or relativity television all day and for the most part, that is fine, but play video games all day and your life must be horrible. Yes, there are those susceptible to video game addiction and there is the majority that work, go to school, have family, friends, and a significant other and still chooses games over other forms of entertainment.

Perhaps that is the answer right there. Perhaps that is the threat. Gamers are less likely to buy the most expensive cable package. Gamers are less likely to buy based solely on a commercial, they are more tech savvy and skeptical.  Maybe the scariest part is that if we as gamers spent a little less time attacking each other and pulled together in one voice we could make some real change in the gaming and entertainment industry. Often those who are constantly put down are less likely to speak up. We need to stand up and speak up. Maybe we cannot keep non-gamers from stereotyping us, but we can at least try to stop stereotyping each other.

Does upcoming film help gaming or further stereotype it?

After more than 30 years in gaming, I have always found the different ways gaming is portrayed in the mainstream interesting.  Sometimes I find humor in it, sometimes it’s made me mad and still other times it has made me shake my head.

Today’s gaming culture is far gone from the “kids thing” it used to be painted as, even if a great deal of the mainstream media still paints it that way.  With celebrities becoming more involved and museums recognizing video gaming history, it could be said that gaming culture has finally reached the same level of respect as other forms of entertainment such as television and film.

Noobz-Movie-Poster

This summer a video gaming film is set to debut.  Noobz, a film about a gaming team heading off to a major gaming tournament, is set to make it’s worldwide debut on June 6 at the Nokia Theatre, right as the E3 Expo is in town.

Upon watching the trailer I am given mixed emotions.  Some of it made me chuckle a little, such as the little kid on the other end of the XBox headset, the team name being spelled as “riegn” (the type of horrible misspelling one cannot play a game online without coming across), and a little homage to classic arcade gaming.

However, I can’t help but feel this film also pushes stereotypes of video gamers that simply don’t apply to the majority of gamers today.  The film seems to feature a number of foul-mouthed little kids, girlfriends that hate games and bash their boyfriends for playing them and loudmouthed stoner types that simply have nothing else to do.

I feel I speak for a large number of gamers out there when I say I tired of the “video gamers are basement dwelling virgins” stereotype a long time ago.  As a happily married man and father of two children, I can tell you firsthand that I know more die-hard gamers just like me, with families and an awareness of the world around them.  My wife is also a gamer, something else that is pretty common these days as well.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB1zJU08IiA[/youtube]

Basically, I’m mixed.  I want to say that anything that puts gaming center stage is a good thing for gaming culture, but I’m also reminded that this isn’t the first time I felt this kind of embarassment as well.  I was annoyed at how The Wizard and Video Power portrayed gamers back in the day and have a similar gut feeling about Noobz now.  The trailer reminds me more of why I started going into private party chats on Call of Duty instead of listening to the main lobby.

Therefore I am opening up the floor for discussion about this one.  Please take a moment to watch the trailer to your left and comment below or contact me via Twitter or direct message if you like.

Is Noobz a good thing for gaming culture, or does it base itself off of too many gaming stereotypes?

 

Game Over: Television pilot features the funny side of video game retail

Gameover

Anyone who has ever worked a retail job selling video games can probably tell you stories.  From parents asking for the “XCube” and “Gamebox” to trying to explain to someone why the hot new game console people waited overnight to get was sold out, the truth of gaming retail can often spawn funny stories.

Such was the inspiration of Game Over, a television sitcom pilot now in the final editing stages.  This half hour comedy follows five employees of a video game retailer in a shopping center, complete with a variety of regular customers.  Director and writer Dave Bullis based the series on his real-life experiences from a job at EB Games in 2001.

“Slowly I started to see the same kinds of customers come in,” Bullis said in reference to show characters such as ‘Yuppie Parent’, a character who frequents the store asking the same questions on each visit.

A variety of other characters, including an aspiring pro gamer and an attractive blonde, will mostly avoid typical video gamer stereotypes, according to Bullis.

The Game Over pilot episode, entitled “Launch Party” was filmed on a Philadelphia sound stage, using a set built in part from counters and racks from a closed Blockbuster location.  Editing of the pilot and a launch trailer are expected to be complete by mid-August, then shopping the pilot to various networks and media outlets begins.

“To get to this point was literally a Herculean effort,” Bullis stated.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT6XxS4Wxi0[/youtube]

Those interested in learning more about the Game Over pilot and following the concept should visit http://www.GameOverSeries.com where they can learn more about the cast, see the set and follow the show via Facebook and Twitter links.