Many of you know that I'm in college. Many of you may also know that, from time to time, I take classes and even have projects. With that established, I'd like to bring up a current bit of research I'm performing: trying to find out why games are so negatively misrepresented in the media. Having just read Grand Theft Childhood, I noted not only how more current research proved that there are few recordable effects of violent and adult themes in games, but also how prior research is highly questionable based on leaps of logic and jumping to conclusions to satisfy personal agendas. I'm interested in where these biases come from, why they are manifesting, and if there is anything we can do to help games overcome their oftentimes poor image.
Obviously, games are only recently beginning to reach a truly mainstream market, beyond hardcore enthusiasts and people who chose to identify with the "gamer" label. The way development is proceeding, I fully believe there will come a day when such a label disappears, or at the very least becomes redefined along the lines of "movie geek," due to an eventual cultural acceptance. However, if the public perception of video games is continually attacked in false ways and is painted as a negative influence on society, that day will take longer and longer to reach.
I know many of you think that, because similar sentiments have existed in the past with movies and rock music, such protests will easily die off, but in this day of the internet, where every blowhard has the ability to loudly project his voice, I can't help but feel that negative publicity is hurting the game industry. Look no further than the "Hot Coffee" incident and the rerating of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: when unofficial game mods are treated as legitimate releases due to the masterful words of those with agendas, there are not only industry repercussions, but societal repercussions, as non-gamers incorrectly learn of the situation.
Are these biases coming from any place in particular, beyond the usual complaints from old conservatives and attention-seeking politicians? And if there anything that can be done to better aid the game industry's perception in the public eye? I really question if leaving a notoriously seclusive industry to fend for itself is the best path to take.