As gamers, we’ve all come under some scrutiny for enjoying videogames. Whether our beloved hobby is being used as a scapegoat for the latest murders or taking the blame for us being ‘lazy jobless bums’… I’m sure you guys have heard it all before. So I’ve rounded up a few common gripes that we face as faithful gamers and a couple of points that perhaps non-gamers should take notice of too.
Those Stupid Things Will Rot Your Brain!
God, I hate this one. Time and again, I come across people who don’t play videogames and they feel like I should be spending time learning about things through other hobbies. Yet, games have evolved with the people who play them! Many of the gamers playing way back on the SNES or the Dreamcast are now older, maturer and still choose to play games. Not because they’re childish. It’s because they love to escape into other worlds to get away from the boredom of monotonous, modern lifestyles. How is that need to escape any different from getting drunk? Its still an escape for a period of time that we’re all looking for. At least these games don’t have us throwing up or feeling awful in the morning.
I learn a whole bunch of stuff from videogames. To name a few – I learned from Metal Gear Solid 3 that snipers took Diazepam during the Cold War to steady their aim to be more efficient shooters. I learned about key geographical points of the Crusades while playing the original Assassin’s Creed, as well influential figures of the time. I learned about how to put names to Greek mythological creatures from God of War. The list goes on.
Pouring hours into these games has not made me fat or lazy or anti social. I like to go to the gym three days a week and am usually a social butterfly on the weekends, perfectly competent at mixing into crowded parties. These games haven’t rotted anything in me and in the end I am just as functional and socially capable as a non gamer.
I Just Don’t Know How You Sit And Do Nothing All Day
Uh-oh, my hypocrite radar just went ping. How often do you hear about people being hungover or having a day off work only to hear them say ‘It was a great day, I binge watched all of…’. Honestly, watching TV is way worse for your brain. Remember, when you’re watching TV, you’re just taking in a series of images and sounds that are out of your control. You just absorb it like a lifeless sponge.
Even people who are playing what seems like a mindless shooter like Call of Duty online, these people’s brains are making all kinds of predictive calculations and reflexive responses. This kind of mental activity has been proven to increase hand/eye coordination and reflex times. You have passive engagement (like when you’re listening to someone boring and going ‘yeah, mhm, yeah, mhm) versus active engagement, where you’re genuinely involved. Which one do you think is better for your brain?
How Can You Make This Argument For Something So Mindless?
Many of the older generation may still believe videogames are as simple as Pong or PacMan. Now, we have the likes of The Last of Us and Portal. I mention these two games because one, at its core, is all about resource management / forward planning. The other is about thinking outside of the box consistently. Games are created by truly intelligent people. While playing puzzle games these days, I think ‘Man you’d have to be a genius to construct these things’. We’ve also got to remember how videogame technology has paved the way for other industries. The VR is going to be great for teaching anything from mechanics to surgery. Let’s also remember the fact that American and British military have been using Xbox 360 controllers to navigate drones on scouting missions. Suddenly not so mindless after all.
Videogames Are Too Violent. They Create Killers
Look, I’m sorry if you disagree, but this is just rubbish. We have to remember that when we hear about tragic killings in the news, it was the madman who pulled the trigger who is to blame. As I’ve already said, gamers are growing up alongside the industry and in about two decades time, we’ll undoubtedly still be hearing about horrible events like this, sure. Then it’ll likely be a killer in the news who is say thirty five years old, who probably liked to pick up a controller now and then. By then, much like now, almost everyone will be playing games in some way shape or form. Do you play Candy Crush or Pokemon Go? Well, you’re still a gamer to a lesser degree…
However, why don’t we hear news reports blaming videogames when the killer is anything older than mid twenties? Because it doesn’t fit the established stereotype of who should be playing videogames. The preconcieved notion that videogames are still just for kids. A murderer could be as old as sixty and still enjoy a game or two.
When the television came out commercially, it was demonised for the same kind of things – mindlessness, damaging to society etc. Of course, the hate died off after a couple of decades but the witch hunt attitude in the media seems to just keep on going strong in the case of videogames. I don’t know why. They’re too violent? What about the Saw and Hostel movies? Didn’t hear a bad word about them and you don’t get much more graphic than that. I feel strongly that the blame is being tossed into a convenient black hole of videogames, when it could be constructively passed around other ideas like ‘what was the upbringing/mental state etc, of the killer?’. No one videogame can turn a perfectly level headed individual into a psychopath.
As the great Charlie Brooker once said “I don’t play Mario only to bash my head against brick walls, expecting coins to come tumbling out”. I don’t just enjoy a good headshot on a game and then go and seek it out for real because I’m sane. No, these killers were already tapped. What we hate as gamers, however, is how this paints us all in a very bad light to those who believe the media on this. Alas, I feel Penn & Teller summed up my points quite effectively. Check out the video below.
Oh Can You Fix My…
OK look, some of us are total nerds and, sure, some of us love taking machines apart and putting them back together. Those people are out there and they are very intelligent guys and gals. Yet, this does not account for all of us. I’ve had people approach me so many times going ‘Oh Nick, you play loads of games. Maybe you can help me fix this problem on my computer/phone’. Sorry, nope.
Most of the time if you approach someone who is well known for playing videogames, they won’t be able to remove that Trojan Horse that found it’s way into your laptop, neither will they be able to replace the fan on a fifteen year old desktop that keeps overheating. They may not even know its the fan that needs replacing. As much as I would love to be a tech wizard, about all I can do is press CTRL/ALT/DEL to fix your crash. To be honest, that usually fixes matters, so perhaps I’m not doing myself any favours there.
You’ll Never Have A Girlfriend
This one drives me nuts. This is just an easy jab that non-gamers like to use to make us feel like our hobby is a waste of time. When you have a hobby that you truly love and someone insinuates that you are useless with the opposite sex because of it – this is no joke. It never will be and it baffles me to this day why this one is allowed to exist so unhindered.
What if you liked to collect rare vintage stamps, had been doing it for decades and I told you you were a worthless loser because of it? I mean, I wouldn’t because that’s just horrible. For some reason, when it comes to videogames, people feel like they get a free pass to insult your masculinity.
A shout out to the ladies here – there are loads of women who love to play games. They don’t just jiggle to Just Dance. They play The Witcher or Fallout games and they love the content just as much as guys do. Unfortunately, they have to put up with women being objectified in videogames but even that is becoming less popular as we now see Lara Croft becoming a real person and not just a sex symbol to put on the side of Lucozade bottles. Besides, I’ve heard plenty of stories about people meeting up with their online avatars only to later meet up in real life, fall in love and get married. It happens and there is nothing wrong with that.
So, Sure, A Lot Of Us Deal With This Crap
I guess that about wraps it up for my biggest gaming misconceptions. If you’re a non-gamer reading this and found it a little forceful well, I’m sorry about that. It just stands as testament to how we, as gamers, have to put up with more than non-gamers realise. On a closing note, I just want to say that the Max Planck Institute For Human Development measured gamer’s brains against non-gamer’s brains. In people who played videogames regularly, they found a ‘significant grey matter increase’ and even theorise that playing games can treat brain disorders. This is why I think lighter games should be introduced to care homes for the elderly. Just think of the VR potential. Pensioners could take a trip to their favourite holiday destination without even going there. Food for thought.
Are there any things things that really grind your gears as a gamer?