“Oh you’re a gamer, that’s erm cool”….. Conversation stops dead
“Why don’t you spend more time outside and make some real friends”
“Oh a gamer you nerd/geek! Bet your still a virgin!”
And so on…
These are the general phrases gamers hear everyday and it doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you are a girl or boy or what job you have gaming has a way of making people look at you as though you go home and eat kids brains for dinner. The thing is these sorts of comments or observations are made about the gaming lifestyle and culture all the time and it’s ludicrous to me especially considering that gaming outsells movies and music combined year on year and has done since 2013. That’s worth saying again, the gaming industry makes more money than movies and music combined and that’s no secret, all the figures are freely available to anyone with access to the internet.
So that brings us nicely to my question, why in this day and age is gaming seen as a taboo form of entertainment? I only ask this because it completely boggles my mind that gaming, an activity that improves visual acuity, reaction time, team work, hand eye coordination, problem solving skills and those are just the benefits that can be proven. Again a simple Google search will come up with an innumerable amount of articles and studies proving the various benefits of gaming and they are actual state funded studies. There’s another thing to consider and that’s what the actual average gamer is and no the average gamer is not a skinny spotty 13 year old boy who watches too much porn and uses a lot of tissue paper! No your average gamer is 35 years old, male, has a full time decent paying job, owns two consoles and is in a relationship according to a study ordered by gaming social network Pixwoo in 2013.
Now this is the time I begin to wonder if when other forms of entertainment came to prominence people who enjoyed them were treated with the same “stigma” shall we say as gaming is today. Can anyone really believe people ridiculed each other for going to see a play or attending a concert when those forms of entertainment surfaced? No I doubt they did either so why is it considered intellectual to sit and watch people on a stage act or play a piano when playing Portal or Civilisation is a waste of time? I mean even now almost everyone sits in front of a television when they get home after work or throughout the whole day when not working and what do we watch most of the time. Crappy reality shows that make feckless morons into global sensations or shitty soaps with storylines that my 4 year old could write and more than likely act out better.
Before I move on i’m going to admit right now that I highly doubt i’ll be able to come to any sort of definitive answer here, I’m neither qualified to do so nor have the resources to do any sort of comprehensive research into why gaming has this stigma attached but what I will do is give you my own opinion based on my experiences and my overly active big gob!
So here’s my two cents, it’s the media’s fault and yes I know most bloody things are these days but this time the industry has near enough universally shot itself in the foot. Almost every advert in circulation today is geared towards the youngest audience possible and I don’t blame them, not one bit they have to sell as many games and consoles so they can continue to innovate and develop the industry as a whole. The problem with this sort of targeted bias for age is that over the years it has made the gaming industry seem childish to anyone not initiated to our particular guild. Think about it if you see adverts for the latest and greatest action film edited to be appropriate for ten year olds would you waste your money to see it? Wouldn’t you ridicule the Thirty something muppets who spent good money to see a kids film because I bloody would.
Think of where the industry is now compared to what it was a couple of decades ago, I mean the Sega Megadrive just turned twenty five years old just think about that the next time you play Call of Duty in full HD that you downloaded from the online marketplace. We have come a long way from Pac Man and Pong, gaming has become an art form and arguably the most rewarding form of entertainment that is available to us. Think about what games can offer us today, A well thought out and deep storyline, incredibly deep and well acted characters, vast backstories and worlds, cinematic moments that can bring us to tears and joy and so much more. I love what gaming can do and I still remember when I realised games had grown up, for your information it was when I saw *Spoiler alert* Aeris die in Final Fantasy 7. I was devastated not only because I wasted so much time leveling her up when I could have put those hours and hours of battles into Red but because she was a well thought out and lovable character, that was the first time I really cared about a character from a game just as much as I’d cared about other loved characters from books and films.
Since that awakening I’ve taken on the Reapers and made real relationships in Mass Effect, I’ve lost a cared A.I companion in Halo 4, there was that time I helped a fireteam take down Crota in Destiny or when I helped Franklin and Trevor rob a bank in GTA5. Oh yes I could go on for pages and pages but you already get the point and the reason I mention these games is why the hell do only hardcore gamers know of these sorts of moments? Why is it that anyone can cry over Forrest Gump or Marley and Me and no one bats an eyelid yet only a few of us can seriously speak about gamings genuine emotional moments that can move us and more than likely move others when in the correct context.
That’s the rant over anyway, phew I had that bottled up for a while now. As a parting gift I would like to offer a solution to the industry and that is take a page from Nintendo’s little book of marketing. Now Nintendo have gone nuclear with the whole aim our console and games at either elderly or young gamers and hats off to them, Bravo, but and it’s a big but they are at the complete other end of the scale. They don’t have many games aimed towards the hardcore audience *Ahem ME ahem* so they have begun to be known as a childish option, something you buy the kids as their first console at Christmas time or something to keep the elderly members of the family active. That being said Nintendo’s marketing could do wonders when combined with the regular marketing employed by the industry, imagine if we still had Robin Williams(RIP) fighting our corner for The Legend of Zelda or if the stunning Megan Fox appeared in an advert for Halo and just please please image James Bond himself Daniel Craig playing Guitar Hero in order to bring gaming to the masses, and yes they are all gamers.
I hope this article does not come across as the ravings of a madman because I am honestly terrified that it’s going to take a whole generation and yes by generation I mean every gamer today being a parent and having those kids grow up to start gaming themselves to have gaming be a universally loved entertainment form. Imagine if it’s us going what film you watching? And our kids say back to us “It’s a game Dad/Mum” then shakes their head at how old we are…..Yes terrifying isn’t it!
Let me end this with one of my favorite sayings i’ve heard in recent years. I am a gamer, not because I don’t have a life but because I choose to have many.