I wrote this 800 or so word essay for one of my classes and I'd like to share it with all of you. Please give me feedback! Most of my blog postings are just me ranting, but this was carefully constructed. At three in the morning. :D
Gamers out there know what I am talking about. From the hardcore, to the casual, to the casual-er (they are a rare breed), we know there are a lot of misconceptions about us and our passion for video gaming. I hope to debunk and violently destroy some of these outlandish and often completely misused stereotypes. I will give you the stat of Intellect and help you understand that we are just everyday people enjoying an everyday activity.
A common misconception about gamers I find is our image. When someone says he/she is a “gamer” to a “non-gamer”, that’s like screaming fire in a crowded theatre. People just started running – with their minds. The image that pops into their heads is one of a plump person sitting on a couch drinking pop or alcohol, pigging out on Doritos or smoking pot, and screaming at 13-year-olds who toss racial slurs like candy. This does apply to some; but these cases are occasional at best. It’s only when a huge title is released and people go way overboard.
Video gaming does NOT turn kids into violent psychopaths with a thirst for blood. This is rather ridiculous when you think rationally about this. Us gamers do understand and ultimately sympathize with parents who want to shield themselves from gaming. We don’t blame you and we can’t stop you from doing it. But most parents are doing their kids an injustice by not letting them play.
There are games made for mature audiences and ones made for underage audiences. It’s the same situation with every other type of medium (and yes, video gaming is a medium) and this idea is mostly forgotten in the grander scale of the idea. When a studio makes a game, they intend for the game to be played by a certain audience. The problem is, and why this is really an issue, is that most parents see gaming as something to keep their kids occupied for a few hours. This is hugely alarming and shouldn’t be happening. Parents at ALL times should be monitoring what their kids play and not go against the set rating system (you wouldn’t take your kid to see 300 would you? Actually you would if you were an irresponsible parent).
Australia is the best example of this. Recently, there was government talk of changing the regulation system to include R18+ (our version of Mature). Currently, the highest rating is MA15+ and that’s it. Anything not fit for a fifteen-year-old’s eyes was outright banned. A great example of this was a game called Left 4 Dead 2. Basically, the player and three other survivors were trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. In the worldwide release, the game was gory and zombies didn’t disappear after hitting the ground. To me, this just seems wrong. If zombies were to attack us, there would be blood and bodies everywhere, and I would want to experience that with the characters. Not just casually strolling through the streets of New Orleans shooting things with no feeling while doing it. I want to feel angry that this happened; I want to feel sad for my mindless brethren. I want to be an existentialist when I play.
The misconception that angers the general gaming population the most, is that games “melt your brain”. Now this is just a complete farce. The complete opposite is true. Video gaming has been shown to improve vastly everyday skills like hand-eye co-ordination and reaction time. Playing a tense first-person shooter, you are going to be conscious of your surroundings at all times. You will train yourself to peer around corners for enemies and apply yourself to a situation as necessary. Hand-eye co-ordination is especially important for soldiers and most of them are video game fans! The US Army actually uses a battle simulator played with a controller called “America’s Army”. This game’s sole purpose is to give the soldier the right mindset while on the battlefield. One of the US Air Force’s biggest computers is made entirely of 1,716 Playstation 3 consoles. This makes it the 33rd most powerful computer in the world! I was as surprised as you were when I read that.
But the BIGGEST and most wrong thing about us is this idea that all gamers are teenagers. This is the biggest fallacy of all. Advocates for the opposite side tend to think that consoles are the only form of video games – No. Just no. When you include gamers on the PC and even Facebook players (FarmVille is a video game too!), the average age of the video gaming populous comes out to be 35. This will shock most, and it shocked me the first time I read it. Even I had the misconception about gamers’ age. The rise of two genres has really put video gaming on everybody’s mind these days: social networking and MMORPGs.
Social networking is common these days. It gives people (who don’t normally talk) the opportunity to communicate through different means. FarmVille is notorious for this (I don’t want to be your damn neighbour!). But the rise of MMORPGs has cemented this stat. An MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) is exactly as it sounds: a fictional society where players interact and partake in different activities all from the comfort of your chair. Since time is short these days, these two genres are great for keeping up with friends and family.
So that’s all, folks! (I hope that’s not trademarked). Gamers aren’t the lazy psychopathic brain-rotten group of teenagers we’re perceived as. We are as relevant as everyone else and that won’t be changing for a very long time.