So, it’s been a long time since anything was written here. Sorry about that. Life, you know? But now I need to share something that’s making me really quite, quite angry.
Usually when I write here, I come up with a draft in Word, have it proof-read, then copy it wholesale into the blog and format it. Today, I’m writing directly into the blog. This is coming off the cuff, there’s nothing pre-planned or edited in this; so if it’s a little rough around the edges, you have my apologies.
Being the modern type that I am, I have this morning been listening to the radio. I know, I know, it’s like it’s 1952! Anyway, to name and shame, I was listening to a Radio 5 programme called ‘Double Take'; which is presented by what sounds like (and from the website, certainly looks to be) two middle aged woman, complaining….sorry, reporting about the week’s stories.
I happened to turn on just as they were on that favourite hobby horse of middle aged women everywhere; tut-tutting about violent video games. Of course, this piqued my interest; I’m 25 years old and have been gaming for in excess of twenty years. As I tuned in, they were speaking about gamers cannot separate gaming from reality; how if they drop a pencil, they look for a button to pick it up, rather than bending down to get it themselves. Before I could get indignant about this, they asked an ‘expert'; who reasonably said, that yes, if someone has been playing a game for an extended period of time, they may for a split second have a reflex to perform a gaming action, but can easily differentiate gaming from reality, and so would never actually perform this action.
Of course, our MAW hosts (this is how I will now refer to them) took this and ran with it. ‘There you have it, gamers try to perform gaming actions as a reflex!’ Er, no. That’s not what she said. But let’s not allow that to get in the way of your crusade!
Their next attack was to point towards ‘mounting evidence’ that there is a link between violent games and violent crime. Of course, they then managed to completely fail to present any of this ‘mounting evidence'; surely we’re meant to just take the MAW at their word. Frankly, I have mounting evidence that I should be the King of the Universe, but I’m not going to bother you with actually presenting said evidence; you should just believe me. Or, because I’m a gamer, run away screaming just in case I murder you. Hard. In the face.
They then spoke to a gamer that they had tamed for the occasion. I assume that they had him chained up and popped into a straighjacket, just in case he tried to plug a memory card into their foreheads to download their brains. He quite rightly pointed out that gaming has in fact proven very useful; helping surgeons with hand-eye co-ordination for example, and as a theraputic tool. He also stated that if we were to go on anecdotal evidence, then he is an example sat right in front of them; someone that’s been playing games (even – gasp! – violent games) for 20 years and hasn’t even killed a single person in real life!
The MAW then quickly cut to the news, not being able to put a negative spin on this. After the news, we have some tweets read from listeners; another MAW that calls games ‘bad, bad, bad, bad, bad’ and thanks the presenting MAWs (now there’s a nasty image…) for highlighting this on the radio. I can only assume that her only experience of gaming is Carnival Games on the Wii; that would make think gaming was bad too.
We then have a tweet from a teacher – a paragon of morals and virtue, charged with moulding our little cherubs into fine and upstanding members of society. She comments that many of her students were off school the day that Call of Duty was released, so they must have been up all night playing it. Also, because of these games, all of her students are almost completely desensitized to violence, which is BIG PROBLEM. The MAW appeared to pronounce both the capitals and the italics over the air; impressive.
Frankly, this is another opinion borne from scaremongering of the media, mixed with a lack of understanding of the games. I mentioned earlier that I have been gaming for over twenty years; a lot of games that I’ve played could be considered ‘violent’. However, far from being desensitized, I’m completely squeamish; papercuts make me feel nauseous, let alone the thought of genuine violence. I realise that I’m taking a focus group of one here, but that doesn’t suggest to me that we’re going to have a generation of people running around shooting each other because they expect their health to regenerate (which is another argument in itself).
The reason that I’m so hacked off at this is that my hobby, and the hobby of millions of others, is seen as fair game for the general populace and mass media to attack as evil, bad, rotten. And because I’m a gamer, I’m a problem. People ask I why I still play with something for kids; the same people that say kids shouldn’t play them because they’re violent (go figure). People ask why I don’t do something productive with my time, like watch a film or play some sport. This, apparently, is productive. I point out that actually, I’m not glued to my sofa; I have a full time job, I play a lot of sport when time permits, spend time with my family, go to the gym, and take part in other well rounded and wholesome activities. But, because I’m a confessed gamer, I’m frowned upon.
I thought, when these same opinions were being cast around ten years ago, that as a society we’d move on beyond seeing gaming as a boogie man. But it seems that we’ve gone backwards, and the hysteria is worse than ever. The problem is, only gamers will think to read this. Therein lies the problem; within the bubble, we know that we’re not pyschopathic face-murderers. But those on the outside refuse to look in, and instead paint as some sort of child eating monsters. Frankly, it’s getting harder to take.
I have no suggestions on how to change this; all the time that the mass population is being spoon fed scare stories from the popular media, we have no chance. So here’s what we do; enjoy our hobby. Ignore those that don’t get it. Because, remember, they were once like us; listening to music their parents didn’t get. But, don’t judge them. That would make us just as bad. Instead, inform, and if they still refuse, agree to disagree; hold the high ground.
Like I said; this would be rough around the edges. But hopefully, it hasn’t been too incoherent.