Regardless of all the advancements, video games remain a target. The mainstream press and society in general continues to accuse gaming at every turn. If they have to point a finger, when the need arises to find a scapegoat, video games are first on the list.
5. Voluntary ignorance
Playing the scapegoat card only works if you turn a blind eye to facts. The entire purpose of the scapegoat is to make the situation easier, to enable laziness. For whatever reason, even the most respected news sources in the world have chosen to remain blissfully ignorant of the situation. It’s why they still make blatant mistakes that gamers find comical, and the reporters should find embarrassing. However, because a negative headline concerning video games always generates more attention than a positive one – and reporters and news sources need to make money – ignorance prevails.
It’s a business decision, really. Why bother doing all that research when you already know what will attract attention? Remember when the Sandy Hook mass murderer Adam Lanza was called a “deranged gamer?” That label made it into most major New York publications and you know, I read every story. At no point did they attempt to define the label, nor did they even say how – or who – determined Lanza was a “deranged gamer.”
Later reports proved that in fact, he wasn’t anything of the kind. A perfect example of what has been happening for decades, and it’s not about to change any time soon.
4. The aura of mystery tinged with something sinister
Gaming is still relatively young when compared to other forms of entertainment. Furthermore, as it’s based on interaction, many people still don’t know the long-term effects of a lifetime of video game exposure. Even those in-the-know (i.e., gamers) can’t say for sure if continual playing has an effect, whether it’s positive or negative. The industry simply hasn’t been around long enough. When you combine that with the “participation factor,” you’ve got a potentially hazardous situation of which people are understandably leery.
This is the only point that we can’t do anything about. However, it’s important to note that those who are video game neophytes are more likely to believe the sinister angle. That hearkens back to the age-old truism: “We fear what we don’t understand.” The problem is that even as gamers, we can’t profess to completely understand it, either. Not yet, anyway.
3. Violence still dominates
It’s true that violence is a driving force behind the video game industry, and it doesn’t help that most of the biggest titles are indeed extraordinarily violent. The latter is the biggest problem, because those are the products that get the most exposure. As such, they’re the games the mainstream populace sees; they don’t ever see games like Journey, for example. And of course, when you advertise something to the masses, you have to make it as flashy and as titillating as humanly possibly, so you will always emphasize the heavy action sequences.
This is why, if you ask most people who don’t play games, they’ll firmly believe that just about every video game released is exceedingly violent. This doesn’t help the cause and only contributes to the problem. Hopefully, we can emphasize the artistic side of gaming more in the future, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
2. Gaming is still viewed as a “low-brow” hobby
You will find doctors and lawyers who play video games. As time passes, more and more individuals in the upper strata of society will label themselves “gamers.” Right now, however, video games are often viewed as a low-brow form of entertainment. It’s not the theater, it isn’t the symphony, it’s hardly the same as going to a museum or gallery, it isn’t a wine-tasting, there are no yachts involved, it’s not even reading books, etc. Even movies have a better reputation just because everyone does acknowledge that at least some intelligence and sophistication exists in the industry.
It’s frustrating that despite all the artistic excellence found in gaming, the majority flat-out ignores those aspects. You can’t really blame them, though, as there aren’t that many examples of genius writing or plot-creation in gaming. We’ve got great stuff (and I hope it’ll get better), but it’s a far cry from a world where artisans reign supreme.
1. IMMATURITY … we’re doing it to ourselves
This is #1 because we need to acknowledge that we are, to some extent, in control of the industry’s reputation. I mentioned research before; well, it wouldn’t take long for someone to do a little research online, and promptly run screaming in the other direction. The sheer amount of immaturity, both hostile and childish, that is prevalent in online forums and communities is appalling. Put on a headset and play a game multiplayer, and in minutes, you might be shocked and depressed. The headlines that hit big are beyond adolescent.
These are the types of things that we can change. And we have to. You can’t blame everyone for thinking gamers are a bunch of immature (possibly unstable) individuals who just haven’t “grown up.” That’s not always in reference to the archaic stereotype that gaming is just for kids; it’s in reference to the maturity level of the average gamer. Or rather, the perceived maturity level based on what we see and hear online.
Maybe if we can fix this crap, the rest will start to fall into place…