Talkin’ Stigma

5 04 2010

I’d like to be serious here, if that’s allowed. There are two things about this huge passion O’mine that really annoy me, both having to do with the way society perceives vidja games. Earlier this morning I gave a little elevator pitch about myself to practice for when I go for job interviews. That aside, I mentioned that video games were a huge passion of mine, and I heard a few people laugh. Why?

A year or so ago, I said something similar in class, that being a video game journalist is my biggest dream, and people laughed. Why is it that vidja games are so stigmatized in our society? If someone mentions video games, they are immediately thought of as a socially inept nerd with no life. While some of that may be true… That’s not the point. Each year, the video game industry grows. Since 2006, the video game industry has outgrossed the movie industry and will likely continue to do so from now on. It should be clear that video games are here to stay, and the introduction of the Wii, iPhone and others have made video games more and more casual. And I’m fine with that.

What really upsets me is, for example, sports fans are able to talk about sports, stats, players and all that bullshit and no one bats an eye. Your average sports fan is as BIG a nerd as a video game player, only instead of knowing game facts, he knows sports. Someone who can spout out a football player’s average score or whatever is fine to be in society, but someone who can talk about a video game, like knowing what year a game came out, the intricacies of its plot and everything is looked at like they’re a freak. WHY?!

Another thing is the way video games are perceived in the media. Someone who sits at home for hours and plays vidja games is wasting their life away, but someone who sits in their room reading books for hours on end is EXPANDING THEIR MIND AND TOTALLY FINE. How the hell are they not considered a cloistered sack of a human that is somehow better than someone that plays video games?

If someone says they want to be a sports journalist people cheer them on, if someone says they want to be a video game journalist, they get looked at like they’re wasting their life, and I just don’t understand that. It seems the biggest problem is society is run by older people, the same people who believe video games make people into killers, see them as a kid’s hobby (despite the average age of people playing video games to be 32) or that they’re a complete waste of time and money. Fuck that. Until the people running the media die out and today’s video game players replace them, video games will always be a stigma in America. I’m envious of Japan, where not only is video gaming not a stigma, it’s celebrated regularly. America is taking some steps toward changing, but it’s not enough and won’t happen for another decade or so.

Anyway, that’s my piece, I could go on but it only makes me madder, and it should upset other people that play video games too. Just remember: It’s fine to be passionate about something that society deems fine, but not OK to be passionate about video games.

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5 responses

5 04 2010
Chris Hempel

5/5 my mann. I imagine you were typing that loud, and with force! lol! My reply to that is this; No matter what you do in life or enjoy doing in your leisure time, there will always be a group of people somewhere that find stupidity or wasted time in what your doing. You mentioned sports is socially acceptable, but i can honestly say that thats not always true (esp. with girls). I am probably as obsessed with football as you are to “Vidja Games”, (I Even stir the two together when i play madden for 6 months straight every time it comes out) but when i get to talking about who got traded this week, who’s stats were most impressive this year, or talking about every single play that happened in the chargers games the previous Sunday, there’s always a pretty large group of people that say i cant believe you know that much about football, who needs to know all those pointless facts… I DO! And it doesnt bother me at all, because i know plenty of people who are just as obsessed with football as me, and were able to keep an interesting conversation going for hours about what we love. Now im sure thats the same way for you. Some people think your wasting time acquiring useless knowledge, but at the same time you can go online with another group of people who completely agree with how you choose to spend your time.

Dont let what anyone else says bother you. For every little thing there is to do in life, theres always gunna be some hater that will never understand why you do what you do. the Just look at the republicans Vs. Obama! hahahaha.

5 04 2010
tormesser

Thanks for the comment, Chris. I know there are people who will find people that obsess over sports facts or bookworms to be just as socially inept or weird as someone like myself that obsesses over games. The point I was trying to get across was that in a general social situation, someone talking about a book they read or a (sports) game they just watched will not get nearly as much attention and stigma drawn to them as someone would if they were talking about a video game.

And it doesn’t bother me either, it’s just frustrating to me that that is how society still views video games, and I know to ignore those sorts of people. I was just saying my opinion on the matter and I know it’ll change eventually as video games get continually more mainstream and more and more attention is drawn to them from all forms of the media.

19 04 2010
Wigglebeans

As you said, times are going to change and the videogame userbase will continue to grow. I do think that one thing that makes it difficult to relate vidja games to football is the fiscal investment that a gamer is generally expected to make. You don’t really have to pay much to enjoy football unless you’re making an effort to regularly attend games. I think a better allusion might be made to car-lovers. To many people, this expensive hobby looks to soup-up cars to the point where their capabilities aren’t even street legal. Not to say there aren’t other factors such as aesthetics or the coordination it takes to drive well, but it’s another hobby that doesn’t necessitate an end with the means. Well, no more than a video game does.

19 04 2010
tormesser

I didn’t really think of it in terms of money spent, but even so, how many countless people spend money for their fandom of sports, whether it’s buying merchandise or even going down to the sports bar to buy a few drinks during the game. I know it doesn’t mean the same thing, I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

Anyway, you do have a point that someone who didn’t know could just look on and scoff at all the thousands of dollars I alone have spent on vidja games and the thousands more I will spend in my lifetime and just shake their head. My biggest concern is just it never gets the reverence it deserves. Games are still looked upon as kiddy and not a big deal when they really are a big deal and really aren’t just for kids anymore than movies are.

19 04 2010
Wigglebeans

Yeah, I thought about going into that, haha *knocks head*.

Yeah, it’s all perspective. It really bugs me when people get so set in their way being the right and only way. Sports, cars, games, cicadas, and Trogdors are perfect items for discussion if you can find the right audience. That’s why unfortunately you have to very carefully lead in to the discussion of games in an elevator setting, just in case.

For example, you could lead in with an article like this:

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2010/04/video_games_can_never_be_art.html

This pretty much reinforces your argument via dismissal of a serious medium without giving it a chance to contend for itself. I was also thinking about using this as one of Roussell’s articles.

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