[Disclaimer: This blog does not represent the views or opinions of Enkido as he exists in a sane state and he cannot be held responsible for the content expressed in this article. For real, some serious analysis is about to go down. Also, cocks.]
Okay, so here is the story. As you may be able to infer by the title, this originally started as a comment on Kinjiro's blog
about why gamers are depicted the way they are and what can be done about it. It is very well written and offers very good analysis. If you missed it I recommend reading it first. What is below is the comment I was writing, slightly altered and edited, when I realized it was about to be blog length, so with little further ado.
I have no doubt that the depiction of gamers does not match the actual accepted definition. The definition makes no reference to any of the negative stereotypes that the mainstream media or non-gamers associate with our group, just as Kinjiro points out. He gives one of the most apt descriptions of gamers as a group I have heard, describing a fairly tight knit group from every corner from the spectrum, with a variety of other interests, and varying levels of intelligence. Now if your saying that that is really vague, well yes, there is a reason for that. This describes just about any group with a shared passion. Just as you have foodies, or movie buffs, or sports fans, groups are rarely defined in such specific terms. The exception to this may be the group as a whole identifying a special subset within itself, such as cosplayers or tabletop gamers for gaming. The fact remains that if you look at the group on a macro rather than micro level, gamers are no more distinct or definable than the definition we are given in the dictionary or any other group of enthusiasts.
This is from the Forbes website by the way, and it was titled gamer_1. That seems like a better depiction to me.
Despite this, there are always going to be outliers and those that take it too far, and without fail, that is what the media will recognize, as it sensationalizes an otherwise perfectly normal, perhaps even above average, group. What most non-gamers imagine gamers to be stems from these outliers simply because they are the exceptions to the rule, or the most visible. Everyone else is a perfectly reasonable human being, which makes them less visible. This raises a question though. These outliers exist in other groups just as much as they do in the gaming community, so why are we the ones depicted negatively? While Kinjiro examines the roots of gaming as a way to analyze this stigma, I am inclined to take a different approach. Gaming is essentially an addition to the foundations of media as much as books, movies, and music are. We are also the newest and have yet to establish ourselves. We also tend to be a fairly vocal group, at times to our own detriment. As such the media is going to examine gaming as it evolves and follow it until it's full mainstream acceptance. When the media does this, it is the most vocal group, the outliers, that will make themselves recognized. Also, people as a general rule tend to debase anything that goes against previously established norms.
As for presence in the mainstream, I agree with Kinjiro that what is out there is no where near enough to cover how large a group gamers are nor how fast it is growing. I do, however, believe that they are getting better about it. The Penny Arcade Expo is perhaps the most visible event in the video game industry outside of E3. It accurately depicts what gamers are as a group and a culture. It has also banned booth babes
that are ignorant of what they are advertising and show too much skin. The fact that this was instituted by the vote of the gaming culture as a whole speaks well for us as a group as well. It has not however banned cosplay, which is a part of the culture and deserves it's place, and in my opinion deserves to be seen as such by the rest of society. There is no reason to censure what we are in order to be more appealing to the mainstream, and in fact I am very much against the idea. As for other chances to expose ourselves unabashedly, E3 has also begun to implement such rules but to a lesser extent.
Not related but you deserve a bread and this is awesome.
I have to say that I have to agree with Kinjiro's views on magazines when it comes to educating the uniformed about gaming. Magazines are generally filled with technical and focused articles, the kind that people that are not already knowledgeable will not understand. This is because magazines by nature are specialized. The bigger issue with magazines is that people subscribe to their interests, and if gaming is not an interest they won't subscribe, simple as that. I do want to give more credit to the internet though, mostly because of sites like Destructoid. Here you can find what the gaming community
really is. Sure some of it may be technical
but at least here it allows the gamers tho show that they have other interests
than just gaming and are able to have intelligent and reasonable debate. If your have read this far down, you likely already know what I mean so I will spare you further analysis and move on.
It is true that gaming as a hobby and a culture is still very much in it's early stages. I would argue that this is the best part about being a part of it right now. Right now we are seeing the greatest expansion of gaming there has ever been and it had advanced as a medium at a rate far outpacing any other medium in history except perhaps the spoken word. Games are constantly pushing boundaries, while still remaining accessible to those who are curious about it, and more so now than ever.
So what is it that we can do? The best answer I can come up with is exactly what you are doing on this site, participating. Be a part of it, show those who don't understand what being a gamer really is. Keep playing, enjoying, and talking about games and don't stop no matter how anyone else views or depicts you. In time the truth will come out and the people who don't know will learn. And what is the best thing we as a group can do when that happens? Greet them with open arms.
LOOK WHO CAME: