I’ve often lamented the fact that despite its hard-earned mainstream status, the gaming industry gets no respect from mainstream journalists and consumers.
And you know, it seems that no matter what we do, it’s lose-lose.
Take, for example, a recent conversation I had with an ex-colleague. We used to work together at a local newspaper; we’ve since moved on, as neither of us wanted to starve to death. However, as he was willing to move to the big city, he’s doing a good deal better than me, a fact he never shies away from whenever we chat.
At any rate, we were talking about E3, which turned into a discussion about the increasingly violent nature of video games. They just seem to be getting darker and grittier and edgier and gorier (as is all entertainment, unfortunately). That’s when I brought up Nintendo.
Nintendo is THE ammunition gamers should use to battle the anti-game activists
Believe it or not, there are plenty of game haters out there, and every last one ardently believes that video games can and do have a negative impact on people (children and adults). It doesn’t help that they can point to any number of awfully visceral productions that certainly push the violence envelope. However, there’s always Nintendo, right?
Watching Nintendo’s E3 presentation, I was struck at the obvious contrast: It wasn’t a fraction as dark as Sony or Microsoft’s conference and furthermore, it felt like video games of old, when they were cheerful, bright and just plain fun. Granted, we had Mortal Kombat in the arcades back in the day, too, but that wasn’t Nintendo, now was it? And while Nintendo has published plenty of violent games on their platforms in the past, their focus has never really wavered.
So, that’s perfect, right? I told my friend that we should use Nintendo as ammunition against those who believe games are demonic in nature…after all, how “demonic” are the Nintendo mascots? And what about simple, good-natured themes and fantastic creativity? No, I haven’t owned a Nintendo console since the SNES because the games don’t necessarily appeal to me anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge the quality.
“Yes, but if you’re over 30 and you confess to loving Nintendo, that won’t help your case much”
This was his rebuttal, which made me feel fenced in, mostly because he was right. While we could certainly point to numerous Nintendo games as examples of non-violent, extremely imaginative forms of family-friendly entertainment, we run into the other problem: “Kid” entertainment, as labeled by the mainstream, shouldn’t be embraced by mature individuals.
I agree that people are maturing later than they ever have before in human history. I still recall The Atlantic’s “The End of Men” article that pointed out the lagging of males behind females in terms of educational and career-oriented progress. While many men in theirs 20s and 30s appear content to be laid-back, women are charging. Psychologists and sociologists have since theorized that such a phenomenon is due to young men remaining obsessed with certain forms of entertainment.
For instance, the superhero trend: It comes from comic books, which of course were originally produced for children. But young men in their 20s and 30s are still all about superheroes; going to conventions, dressing up, playing games with superheroes, watching movies with superheroes, etc. “Grow up,” say some adults in response to this, rolling their eyes.
Damnit, we just can’t win
So, basically, if we choose to play violent games, we’ll actually frighten people. With all the craziness going on, from all the school shootings to the recent Slender Man real-life horror, many have become skeptical of younger people, especially those who play violent video games. On the flip side, if we opt to play Nintendo games, which aren’t even remotely violent or offensive, we’re branded as “children in adult bodies” and either way, we’re looked down upon.
As I replied to my friend-
“So, what you’re really saying is that if we play non-violent games over a certain age, we’re weird, and if we play violent games over a certain age, we’re potentially dangerous individuals who should be treated with caution.”
He reluctantly agreed. He’s a gamer himself, so he’s not happy with the situation, but this is the way things are shaping up. ‘sigh’ What to do?