The current state of gaming part 3: Stigma and Effect

This will be the final part in my ‘State of Gaming’ blog before I return to blogging about my game career progress.

Its a topic that’s been done to death by the media and the news and such, but any series addressing such issues would seem a bit empty without it… The effect gaming has on people.

People outside of the gaming community often take a pretty bleak view on those deeply entrenched inside, and for this, I guess both parties are to blame. On the one side you have those who look at gamers and say ‘All you do is play games, you should get out more, blah blah’ and sometimes these people can have pretty loud voices and can claim they know whats best (Parents, religious folk, teachers). But maybe us gamers don’t help ourselves by.. well.. only playing games and not getting out enough.

But what does gaming actually do to us? Are those on the outside judging justified in their opinions? I can only speak on a personal level.. and well, no, they’re not.

I want to try and remain unbiased on the issue, just so I can try and see the argument from both sides, but I gotta admit, it’s pretty difficult.

I started gaming when I was about 10 or 11 and at the time social competence wasn’t really a thing anyway. I mean, nobody is inviting you out to house parties when you’re 10. But this is when I feel a lot of parents would worry; ‘ Why is lil’ Jimmy inside playing games so much? why isn’t he out climbing trees and eating mud?’

Well, thanks, Karen (most mums are called Karen I think?). What about the benefits of gaming for a small child? It’s no secret playing video games helps with finger dexterity (surgeons are encouraged to play video games to help keep the fingers in tip-top shape!), it helps with spatial awareness, and problem solving (perhaps not in the traditional sense, but whilst a child’s brain is malleable, learning how to go about defeating a tough boss can’t be a bad thing). Finally, creativity can be developed by looking at how developers use art and music to make their games! These are all great for children, and while Karen may think burning ants with a magnifying glass may be ‘teaching them science’, I can bet playing Portal will subconsciously help them understand how gravity works and teach them just as much as murdering insects.

At the age of 14/15/16, I reached my ‘peak’ of gaming when people around you in school or college started to form their opinions that gamers were ‘uncool’ and such. This can have pretty damaging effects on kids and that’s a big shame. I was pretty fortunate that I was never really on the receiving end, but I knew some kids in school who were and it wasn’t cool.

But these were the kids that did best in school. These were the kids that were artistic. These were the kids that were musical. I feel there’s some innate intertwining between games and creativity/intelligence that perhaps stems from being exposed to problem solving that I mentioned before from an early age.

Importantly, gaming is a great release. Stressed? games will help. Upset, beating the shit out of Voldo on Soul Callibur will help. Happy? Running over some peds in a bus on GTA will only increase the happiness! and don’t give me the nonsense that playing violent video games makes kids violent. Otherwise 80% of children in school would be beating eachother down.

People who get deeper into the games than just playing them get the worst rap from others. Those that buy the merch, wear the cosplay and go to conventions. To this I just have to say, what about people who spend fortunes on football kits from their favourite teams? what’s the difference? I belong to both camps and personally it’s the same to me.

The unfortunate thing is, gamers have now become known simply as the fat pasty spotty white guy of society, and it’s pretty wrong. I know a lot of gamers, and to be honest, if you put them in a line up with a bunch of folks who weren’t, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.

What I will say to conclude is; gaming to gamers is more than just mashing buttons, and often times is a great leveler for kids to help them mature without them even knowing it, and surely Karen, that’s better than eating a chunk of mud.





Author: kanebrady1994

22 year old aspiring game designer from the UK, currently living in New Zealand

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