Post by trog @ 11:25am 14/03/12 | 67 Comments
It's been a while since we've had an old-fashioned beat down on video games from the mainstream press (at least, one that wasn't flogging the boring dead horse of violence), so it was with some surprise that I read this morning's blog post on the Brisbane Times from journalist Katherine Feeney.
The article bounces somewhat wildly around several issues - to the point where it is hard to identify a central theme, other than (obviously) to make people like me froth and fume as I frantically hammer out a comment to what is almost indistinguishable from flamebait. It really just harkens back to the days of yore where gamers were criticised as being basement dwelling nerds, and as such is actually sort of offensive.
The article begins by implying that playing video games is not social - not in that "real-life, face-to-face interaction" way that you get when you trudge outside. As someone that has made some of my best IRL friends from playing video games - both from going to LANs and simply meeting people in the flesh after playing them online - this whole premise just seems laughable to me. I know with the age of broadband that LANs are less common, but I still know a whole bunch of people that have become at least "real-life" acquaintances, if not friends, after playing games together online.
And that's before we even get into the people that get happily married after meeting in World of Warcraft!
The article then - somewhat bizarrely - treads into the realm of religion, based on a single anecdote in which a gamer described their game playing as "spiritual", and then goes on to imply that gaming is somehow worse than religion because it fails to offer the same sort of social crutches and "handy how-to relationship messages" as religion.
I don't even know where to start here; this section makes the article read almost like a stalking horse for how great religion is for managing your life (and to yet again mention De Botton's new book?!) - just because gaming can't support your emotional needs or help you manage your relationships. That is not what gaming is for. It is entertainment. It is not a magic book that is supposed to be a life guide. You are comparing very unlike things.
The conclusion then takes the time to conclude that because of how women are portrayed in video games, us gamer types are struggling to "have healthy adult relationships". It stops short of calling us misogynists, I guess, but again the implication that we're basement dwelling geeks unable to interface with humans of the female variety outside of typing "A/S/L?" is a bit disappointing to see in 2012.
I guess there are still people out there that haven't noticed that video gaming is now one of the biggest industries in the world. Treating people that partake of gaming like we are socially maladjusted and need to get out more is, frankly, old fashioned and offensive. I would encourage people who still have this belief to explore the world of gaming a little bit more - our universe is filled with more amazing people than you can imagine and everyone can find their own place here.