There’s no denying it: video games are the entertainment industry of the 2010s. You can try to deny it and say that films and TV still reign supreme, but all the evidence proves the contrary. 2013 saw Grand Theft Auto V become the fastest selling piece of entertainment property of all time: measured by the amount of time it takes to amass $1 billion in profit. But even back in 2003, Call of Duty 3: Modern Warfare had already beaten the then fastest selling film of all time, Avatar, reaching $1 billion a full day ahead of the blue extraterrestrials.
So why are video games still poo-pooed and looked down noses at, despite both huge financial and artistic successes and advancements? Maybe it’s not so much the games, but the gamers.
Act Your Age, Not Your Shoe Size
“If we can’t be taken seriously as mature consumers, what hope does the industry’s overall image have?”
Research has shown that the average age of a gamer is in the mid-30s. Gaming is no longer the exclusive pastime of lonesome teenagers locked inside their bedrooms. It is now a fully fledged method of entertainment enjoyed by young professionals and their families.
So why do so many gamers insist on acting like children? There are far to many gamers, especially on multiplayer games like Halo, Call of Duty, and even Little Big Planet, that call each other “motherf*cking f*ggots/c*nts/wh*res” down their headsets, along with a whole host of other insults that sadly include racist ones. This is not how a mature audience should behave. If we can’t be taken seriously as mature consumers, what hope does the industry’s overall image have?
Less Sex and Sexism Please, We’re Adults
Another thing that mars us is the grossly base and insulting levels some developers and video games marketers stoop to make their product sell. Free-to-play MMOs, like Wartune, are particularly bad at doing this. The result is that it really degrades the gamers and the industry.
Research has shown that the gaming community consists of almost equal amounts of men and women, yet for some reason we’re still pitched at as if we’re 14 year-old boys with rampant hormones and sore wrists.
Sexism, too, is still rife. You only need to look at the skimpy and ineffectual armour of female characters in fantasy games, and generally how male-orientated gaming narratives are, to see that a female audience might as well be considered non-existent.
Ease Off On The Excess
The mania around some games is ridiculous too. You just need to look as far as Flappy Bird to see how depressing the games industry is at times. As the game went viral, people seemed to become more stupid. The astronomical prices mobile devices with the now removed game being listed and selling for on Ebay is just embarrassing. The price tag of collectors’ edition copies of games like Saints Row IV are also just as silly.
eSports is also a place where excess is rife. The prizes being offered to good gamers rise to thousands of pounds/dollars in cash, all for just sitting at a computer and clicking a mouse and/or mashing a few buttons. Not to mention the amount of money and advertising that’s poured into tournaments all just to watch a group of people sit in front of their monitors for an hour or two.
Why All Of The Above Is Unfair
It is incredibly easy to rebuke all the above as very shallow and generalised statements, because they’re just that. We could pick countless examples that show that the above are simply not as endemic as stated.
Is the mania, hyperbole, and behaviour of gamers really worse than that of Beliebers or One Directioners? How can eSports be deemed excessive when the wages of professional football and soccer players could collectively wipe out most of the developing world’s debt? Have Bioware not done more to challenge the “Straight White Guy Industry” than Hollywood in making LGBT characters more visible and prominent than in the latest films?
But this is still how many people see the video games industry: juvenile, uncultured, and overblown. Yet, sometimes stereotypes but hold small amounts of truth. Whilst generalisation like those above are unfair, they’re not untrue.
We, for one, celebrate that we can have these discussions and counter these points of view. As well as challenging “mainstream” entertainment industries, we’re also starting to challenge ourselves which means we can only but grow as both an industry and an audience.
“Perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to behave like serious adults enjoying legitimate pieces of cultural entertainment property – like theatre, film, and TV – because that’s exactly what we are and do.”
Video games is a very young industry compared to that of theatre, film, and TV, and it will take some time for those stuck in the mud to accept the clout and cultural impacts games are having and have already had. Yet, perhaps we should make a more concerted effort to behave like serious adults enjoying legitimate pieces of cultural entertainment property – like theatre, film, and TV – because that’s exactly what we are and do.