Gamers often find their hobby of choice attacked in the media. Outlets like Fox News delight in painting gamers as uncouth, uncivilized, sub-humans. People who are capable of killing without a moment’s hesitation, because gunning down a simulated horde of demons is obviously just one step away from grabbing a pistol and running riot in the local supermarket.
Gamers have every right to be pissy about their portrayal in the media, and their desire to see games accepted by a mainstream audience is entirely justified. Except, of course, their hobby has already been accepted by a mainstream audience, and gamers aren’t happy about it. Confused? So are they.
There’s a game out there that has sold millions of copies across various formats. It’s a “killer app”, one of the reasons people have opted to buy the device they play it on in the first place. Its success has spawned merchandise, a spin-off animated series, and the very name of the game has been assimilated into the pop culture hive mind. It’s a game that your mother and, quite possibly, your grandmother are very familiar with.
It’s probably safe to assume that a fair number of you reading this editorial have emitted a rather whiny sort-of groan upon reading the name of the game I spent an entire paragraph writing about, and it’s equally safe to assume that every single one of the people who groaned is a hypocrite. I’m sorry, but you are.
There’s a prevailing attitude amongst gamers that anybody who plays any game which doesn’t involve the gratuitous slaughter of a hundred-thousand faceless drones is somehow a lesser being, a troglodyte who hasn’t earned the right to call themselves a “gamer”. The “hardcore” delight in painting these “casuals” as uncouth, uncivilized sub-humans. Hang on! Does that sound familiar to you?
Anybody who plays any sort of game, regardless of theme or tone or content is a gamer. It’s as simple as that. There was a time in the 90s when you couldn’t call yourself a proper gamer unless you’d played Lemmings or The Secret of Monkey Island. These days most “hardcore” gamers wouldn’t be caught dead playing games like that, not that they’d know what to do if they did – there’s nothing to shoot, for a start – but it’s interesting to note that if Angry Birds had been released all the way back in 1991 it would have sat quite happily on the shelves besides Lemmings and Monkey Island, and nobody would have batted an eyelid.
If you’ve ever sneered at someone for playing Angry Birds and games of its ilk you’re a hypocrite, because somewhere right now is someone sneering at you for playing Call of Duty, or for wasting your time with Halo: Reach, or for opting to play Rock Band 3 instead of picking up a real guitar. Remember that the next time you’re on the bus and you hear the chirrup of flightless birds whizzing towards their demise.
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