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This blog is a bit more personal and discusses my personal reasons behind the rift caused between gamers and non-gamers. I have a lot of personal experience with this and it can sometimes get frustrating when other people, especially non-gamers, don’t realize how much games can mean to me, or another person.
Video Games are a true form of entertainment, not just a source of mindless time-passing (Its Ranting Time)
Would you say that any James Patterson novel is mindless entertainment? The Harry Potter Series? Any NY Times Best Seller? Most people would say no, because they are books. Books are stories that capture your imagination, they provide insight into a characters emotional and physical struggles and their relationships with those that mean something to them. What about The Breakfast Club? The Star Wars original trilogy? Lincoln? Again, most people would say no, because they are movies. Movies have some degree of realism in them, you (for the most part) see an actual actor/actresses’ face, you see their emotion, hear it in their voice, see the look in their eyes. You know that they are going through some inner struggle even if you can’t know exactly what they are thinking. You know what other characters actually mean something to them and all of a sudden you’re caught up in their emotional struggle and are rooting for everything to work out in the end. When it doesn’t, you cry like a baby, when it does tears of joy run down your face.
But what would people say about video games? Is Mass Effect worth the same emotional accolades that movies and book receive? What about Assassin’s Creed? God of War is almost literally a recreation of the story of Hercules, but it only get recognized outside the gaming community as an extremely violent video game. Well, the story of Hercules was extremely violent, but no one seems to pick at that fact. Change his name to Kratos and he’s a violent sociopath that doesn’t need to be in our hands.
I remember the story Fox News published on the original Mass Effect and the brief (less than 5 seconds) of blue alien butt that was in an optional cinematic of a “sex scene.” The “journalists” jumped all over it and the fact that something like that would be available to their children. Are rated R movies with full frontal nudity available to your children, no, unless you as a parent choose to expose them to it. The same thing goes for rated M games. If you do not want your children exposed to it, don’t buy the game. They cannot buy it unless they are 17 or older, just like a rated R movie. They brought in a gaming expert and a self-help expert who was researching the link between violence and video games. The gaming expert explicitly stated the that the uproar was over a very brief, completely optional cinematic that wasn’t actually controlled by the gamer, and that it could just be skipped over by pressing a button even if you managed to develop your story in that particular way. The gaming expert however, was hardly able to get a word in edge wise between the host acting as a mediator (who was very biased against the game) and the childhood development expert. The self-help expert had no experience with the game whatsoever, nor did she know what was actually going on with the same. All she focused on was nudity in a video game. And that was enough for her. If it had been a book or movie, that news story would’ve never been published, but because it was a video game, it was a huge deal. Why?
Because video games are the new form of media. Just like movies once were. They are still mostly unfamiliar to the current generation (Ages 30-50) who are the main creditable sources in the world, at least currently. They did not grow up playing video games like most people in the upcoming generation did. It is unfamiliar to them and they have no real motivation to research it or immerse themselves in it. So they get hand fed this agenda and its controversy, knowing that its mainly just meant to get viewers and they pitch it as their own. They’ll recall the few times they did actually play video games and name-drop famous titles like Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Zelda. But they have never really experienced a game in its entirety and felt the same feeling you get from a good book or movie and that is sad because they are missing out on so much.
As a note: the self-help author later retracted her statements against Mass Effect, however Fox News did not. And the damage was already done. Can’t really blame someone for jumping for an interview with a major news network though.
To me, I have just as much attachment to the storyline is my favorite video games as I do to the storyline in my favorite movies and my favorite books. I spend hours watching my favorite movies, rereading my favorite books and playing my favorite games. What is the difference? Nothing, in my opinion. But to many, video games are still see as children’s games and not a true form of entertainment media. Eventually, the gaming industry will be accepted as a norm in the entertainment industry, but it probably won’t completely happen until they next generation becomes the dominant generation in the work force and around the world. Until then, gamer will have to be patient and face much scrutiny for their hobbies from those who haven’t experienced what they have. For those gamers like me, just explain it to them this way; its like you haven’t seen the same movies I have or read the same books I have, so obviously we are going to differ on our opinions. If they can’t accept that then they are too narrow minded to be having such a conversation with.
Thanks for listening to my rant,