The Ninjabot

Why Does Everyone Hate Gamers?

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm by Amanda Andonian

When we discuss gamers and the gaming industry, it immediately conjures up images of socially inept, friendless trolls or hyper-violent psychopaths waiting for an excuse to torch the world and watch it burn. At best, someone might say that video games are for kids, so why do adults play them? At worst, video games are a breeding ground for the most violent people in society. I don’t believe either is the case.

I’m a Gamer, Does that Make Me Violent?

The short answer is no. The long answer is: I’m an adult who is perfectly capable of separating fiction from reality, of managing my emotions, and of controlling my actions. If I were to do something wrong or illegal, I would only blame myself because I was raised to know the difference between right and wrong, and then choose the right thing to do.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a “hardcore” gamer, I still buy major titles when they come out, and I take it seriously when others say or do something to cast gamers in a negative light. In my experience, we’re not anything like the misconceptions that continue to persist. First of all, the average gamer is in his or her thirties, not a pre-adolescent child. Gamers are not predominantly men, either. While men are still the majority, it’s close to a 50-50 split.

gamer stats 2011

Courtesy of the ESA.

In reality, gamers are all of us. We represent the wide world of human beings and society. So why do we have such a bad rap? Why is violent behavior hung around our necks whenever a crazy person shoots up a school? How is it evidence that violent video games are bad when the police find Call of Duty in a teenage shooter’s bedroom?

First of all, Call of Duty: Black Ops II was the highest selling video game of 2012. Assassin’s Creed IIIHalo 4Hitman AbsolutionFar Cry 3, and Borderlands 2 were also in the top ten, all of which are relatively violent. You know what was also in the top ten? FIFA 12 and 13 (that’s a soccer game, for the uninitiated), as well as Just Dance 4, and Skyrim. Granted, Just Dance made it to that list because it’s often bundled with an Xbox, but you get my point.

Still, I’ll make my point anyway. If violent games made people violent, then society would have a much bigger problem on its hands. I would have to be afraid of my brothers, cousins, and friends who all played Assassin’s Creed and COD when they came out. But I’m not. You know why? Because I know them, and I know they’re normal people who just enjoy playing games from time to time. Why is that leap of faith so difficult for the rest of mainstream society?

What’s the Deal with the Gaming Industry?

Believe me, I have no illusions about the industry as a whole. It is by no means always a shining example of the business world or humanity in general (just take a look at the comments in this article). However, those of us who spend our free time and hard-earned money on games are mostly people who sometimes opt to pick up a controller instead of a book, who hang out with our friends online once in a while instead of at the bar.

Games just seem like a given in my everyday life. When I talk about it with my non-gaming friends, I often have a conversation much like this (Gchat with a friend after I bought my PS3, edited for grammar and spelling because I’m an English major):

MyFriend: How is the Playstation?

Me: It’s great. I’m playing Uncharted 3 on Very Easy
but it’s still kinda hard, hahaha.

MyFriend: So do you think the Playstation is adding value to your life instead of taking time away? But you can watch TV on it right?

Me: It’s absolutely adding value. Why would it take away?

MyFriend: That’s good. I just wonder how different the mentality is for an adult to play games as opposed to a kid. I mostly just get an image of my cousins glued to the screen playing their games and not emerging for days. Only for food of course.

Me: haha, lots of adults play games. That convention I go to [PAX], the average age is 30s.

MyFriend: I wonder if some of that is backlash against parents who wouldn’t let them play when they were young.

Me: I doubt it. We’re the generation that grew up with games, so they’re already a part of our lives. Most of the people I know who are into games played them since they were kids.

This conversation is indicative of the kind of reaction I tend to deal with when talking to people who don’t play games. To them, games are for children, and anyone who “wastes” their time on games must have something lacking in their lives.

My friend implies that watching TV adds more value to your life than playing games, but how is that so? Gaming is a much more interactive, immersive, and social activity than watching TV. Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, suggesting that a wide swath of people all over the world are either involved in or benefit from the production of video games. Why do so few in the mainstream take it seriously, then? I would imagine that we are the mainstream.

The only explanation I can come up with is the same reason that any stereotype exists—it’s easier to put a label on a group rather than try to understand them as complex individuals. It won’t matter how many Xbox Ones or PS4s are sold in the coming years. Until we can more effectively change the conversation ourselves, there will always be a large contingent of people who look down on gamers as either unaccomplished slackers at best, or mentally unhinged dangers to society at worst.

In the meantime, is anyone interested in playing Uncharted 3 co-op with me? I still have some achievements I need to get!

A shorter version of this article was originally posted on MediumYou can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516.

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