Archive for March, 2009

It’s not a bad thing.

March 4th, 2009 3 comments

So, the thing about gaming is that it’s constructive.

Let’s ignore the comparisons to illegal and dangerous substances and woeful cries about how video games are destroying our youth culture.

They’re not. You don’t stick a needle in your vein and pump yourself full of Heroic Naxxramas. You don’t chain yourself to the TV night and day while your parents wail and moan and decry how an evil, insidious form of entertainment has gripped your brain and robbed you of free will. You make the conscious choice to enjoy these products, and that’s the thing: they’re enjoyable.

What bothers me about people complaining about video games is that they make several assumptions:

1. Video games are for kids.
2. Video games contribute nothing of value to society, and indeed, are a detriment.
3. Video games don’t do anything constructive for the individual(s) who enjoy them.

These assumptions are very far from the truth.

I’ll tackle the first two together, because I can point out the billions of dollars spent on the video game industry. 22.

$22 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. An awful lot. That number hasn’t shrunk in the recession either. Reports had ’07 earnings at $17.9, 2006 earnings were at $12.5 billion.

That figure being tossed out, I want to suggest that it is not only kids and their parents who have $22 billion dollars lying around. Adults are tossing out this money, and buying these games for themselves. They’re spending their dollars, and that means tax revenue. That means jobs, which also means tax dollars. If you think that my hobby doesn’t contribute to society, I and all my friends want our money back.

Which brings us to the beginning. Gaming is constructive.

Gaming, especially modern gaming, is an inherently social act. MMORPG doesn’t mean “Might Massacre Others, Realizing Pointless Gestalt,” nor does it mean “Mollifying Morals, Ostracizing Reality, Promoting Genocide.” It means “Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.” Look at that second word. Multiplayer. More than one players. This is something we do, as a group, a collective, and dare I say, a community. We build this community like any other, through shared experiences. When a guild downs a raid boss for the first time, that’s something to celebrate. When a group of friends joins together, roll some dice, level up, and laugh about the time their characters almost died, that’s something to talk about. When we introduce other people into our hobby, that’s something to cheer for.

Rock Band, D&D, WoW and all the rest are something we do together, and if that doesn’t create bonds, I don’t know what you want.

It not just us creating these social bonds and experiences. Gaming is developing into its own art form. We praise the writing of stories like Penny Arcade Adventures, and awe at the artistic and level design of Fable 2, and we watch as gaming takes interesting risks, like Flower or Phoenix Wright. Writers, CGI artists, directors, and thinkers are all inputting themselves into their games, and building something new.

Video games and video gaming may not be considered the pinnacle of human achievement, or something that doesn’t have its own share of issues, but please realize: it’s not a bad thing.

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