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LONG BLOG

The Problem of Gamers and Reality

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My pappy use to say, "Life is tough everywhere." Ain't that the truth? You clock out of your tiring job, commute home, feed the pets, make dinner, pay bills, so on and so forth. You sit down to relax, turn on the T.V. for background noise and start browsing the web on your phone. Immidiately you're bombarded with bad news. Shootings here and bombings there, the President said this and North Korea said that. You just wanted to escape...

Many of us don't want to be reminded of the harsh realities of life, at least not all the time. We'll pick up a book, watch a movie or even play a game in order to distract us from the burdens of the outside world. Taking a break from reality, nothing wrong with that, right? 

But gamers are particulary vunerable to the hermit lifestyle that tends to come with gaming. Video games are very immersive, even addictive, and not only can the practice of being a shut-in harm the individual, but it harms the image of the community as a whole. It might not be fair, but gamers do have something to prove. Every time there is a shooting the nation looks at us and judges us, they don't seek to understand but prefer to take gaming at face value. Just the other day I was listening to an interview on NPR with a gamer (I am almost certain she was a developer, sorry I don't remember all the details) and she talked about violence in games and how it needs to be a priority for game companies to meet with politicians to inform them of what games do and why games do it. Her opinion was that the industry has been slacking in that department. This might be one of the reasons the gaming community has to defend itself from so many accusations.

But that is a larger subject for another day. The reason I bring it up is because it is an example of the political climate around gaming. When an incident occurs, we defend ourselves by saying that not all gamers are distraught and violent sociopaths. We know right from wrong, we know that murder is bad. Gamers are aware of reality.

On the other hand, there is piece of the community that isn't all that self-aware and informed. Anyone who plays World of Warcraft knows online gaming can be a cesspool for opinions. Politics, religion, race and gender are the four-headed beast of keyboard smashing these days. And while walls of text are being built in front of your eyes, there is always a crack; that one player who wholeheartedly believes that no outside subject matter should be discussed at all.

"I'm not here to talk about the real world, I'm here to escape the real world."

"I don't want to hear this, I have enough to deal with."

"Why do you have to bring up politics and ruin everyone's fun?"

Online games are a terrible way to escape reality because you are exposing yourself to a place that is basically a limited public forum. Not only are these types of people unwilling to navigate a games ignore or block function, but they expect everyone to conform and care about how they feel, and create a safe space inside a game that relies heavily on different people.

"But Swine, these conversations don't lead anywhere and they're not really worth defending!"

You're right, a lot of these online "debates" are meaningless horsecrap. But that doesn't change the fact your feelings are not my problem, and it doesn't excuse you from being ill-informed.

Changing gears.

Very recently Overwatch came out with a new pink Mercy skin for charity to help spread breast cancer awareness and fund research. As usual, gamers complained about the price and how much of it was going to charity. This is pretty normal in my opinion, I'm not throwing salt at these people. But a smaller, somewhat stranger complaint arose with the new skin. I want to make it clear that this is not a popular opinion in the gaming community. This is some really bottom of the barrel stuff.

One of the complaints I saw in comment sections on other sites, was that Blizzard was shoving the reality of breast cancer on its playerbase. These players, who were usually male, said they did not like the idea of mixing reality with a game they use to escape reality. I can't even begin to fathom how someone got to a point in their life where they were offended by breast cancer awareness. Cancer is a terrible thing, but that doesn't mean you should avoid knowing about it.

You have to adapt to the bad things in life, because using games (or other things) to loosen your grasp of reality isn't healthy. Yea, stuff can make you upset, but it's suppose to make you upset. You should be offended and flabbergasted, you should cry and hurt. Video games are not meant to be an escape from reality, they're meant to be a reflection of it -- in some crazy pipe warping and shell flinging way.

So to wrap this up, blissful ignorance is still alive in our world and I think it is a condition that us gamers need to focus on. You can  take a break from reality, but you can't run away from it. It will always be there, even when you pick up the controller. Stay informed and stay frosty.

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About Boxed Swineone of us since 2:59 PM on 12.11.2012

I am an Eldritch Horror from the interweb long forgotten. Beware as you enter the Palace of Swine!