Opinion

Gamers Deserve Respect from Toxic Media

The age of toxic media companies throwing gamers under the bus for all of society’s shortcomings must come to an end. Gamers deserve respect.

Video games have come a long way from the 1970’s days of electronic enthusiast tinkering. Games are being enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Normal, every day people. Some have kids, some are kids and there are even games designed for parents to enjoy with their children. You can pick up a game console on your way to work, between lectures, lying in bed while sick or settling in for a nine hour marathon with life long friends you’ve never physically met.

Video games have gone mainstream and that which defines a “gamer” has never been more loose. Young girls who play exclusively with a Tamagotchi are as worthy of the label as any eSport champion with millions of fans and cash from sponsorship deals. Yet it’s still considered normal for some — if not all — media corporations to paint the hobby with a negative brush.

Take this article from tabloid blog Kotaku. The author goes to extreme lengths to shine light on “racist modifications” made by a handful of people for a PC game. At least, that’s what the headline would have you believe. What’s actually going on is that somebody made a modification of a strategy game set in the early 20th Century war era to make it applicable to today’s politics. The modification itself isn’t racist, Kotaku’s writer takes issue with the people who play the modification to create what he considers are undesirable outcomes. What the article does is project a negative view of anyone who goes anywhere near the

Another sarcastic article from the same tabloid points out Tweet after Tweet of random, unknown people who take issue with the political licence taken by developers of Battlefield V. Some people brought up the strange decision of the developers to make a female soldier the main character in a game series that has been awarded (by the same publication) for its respect of historical accuracy. Here they go on the attack, labeling these gamers who are concerned about a game they’ve been otherwise excited to throw their hard earned money at as “dorks”.

Another article from equally toxic media company Vice focuses on a man who runs a podcast where he discusses his political views. Not content with a boring headline, the author rummages through ancient forum posts to piece together a fantastic narrative: “From Gamer to Neo-Nazi”! The resulting implication is that playing some games as a hobby is an actual, legitimate way to be indoctrinated into a political ideology.

Then there’s the “debate” about video games being somehow linked to violence and crime. American ABC News tries to legitimize the topic in an article here. The fact is that psychotic people have always existed for as long as society. Did video games have a hand in the violent crimes of Amelia Dyer who killed over 400 babies she was supposed to be looking after? Probably not, since she died over 100 years before video games were invented. In the 1800’s the media were far more professional in their craft and correctly reported the reasons behind the crimes (Dyer was financially motivated). Not one article mentions what the disgusting excuse for a human did for fun or how it could be somehow linked to her actions.

Gamers deserve respect from these toxic media companies who are trying desperately to fill space and come up with talking points to make them seem legitimate. There is little doubt that the world is filled with despicable people, awful criminals and the pitifully insane. And while some of these individuals may have come in contact with a video game at some point in their lives, it isn’t fair to equate them with the millions of young children and well adjusted adults who are innocently enjoying a safe, well established hobby.

The reality is in all of the great societies in the modern world it is considered normal and fine to play video games at any time of day or night and in any public situation. Increasingly it is considered strange to have never played a video game. So for media companies to talk about gamers as some kind of sub-human creature, lurking about in the shadows ready and poised to snap at any moment is abhorrent. It is not right, normal or moral to separate a person from society purely because they play games. Nor is it commendable in any sense to use someones hobby as an easy way to imply motive to any actions, to simplify complication reasoning as “he thinks like that because he plays video games”.

Video games are flourishing and the industry doesn’t need the support from the media any more. The industry has grown to one of the biggest in the world despite constant push back and from the media. You rarely hear good news story about games in the news, as has always been the case. Yet the video game industry has weathered political bans, global economic crisis and scare campaigns by lobbyists. It is now considered the outlier to be “against” the industry and the people who enjoy it.

Gamers deserve respect. Respect has to be the way forward. You don’t have to like someone or agree with them to respect them. Respect will lead the way to more truthful reporting, and will go miles towards ensuring those millions of kids who love playing games wont grow up feeling like they’re monsters or socially strange for enjoying something specifically designed to bring people together.

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Ty Muddle

Ty Muddle

I cut my gaming teeth on a Commodore 64 my siblings and I found stashed under my parents bed. It was the early 90's and the strange computerised images were a novelty for a young kid living in a rural Australian town. It would be some years before I was introduced to a simple word processor powered by a Apple II my grandfather found at the dump but it didn't take much to spark a love of writing and video gaming that would continue through my life. My first "modern" console was, like most people in Australia at the time, a Sega Master System II. In those days you'd hire games from the local video store. I always loved flipping to the back of the game manual to see the cheat codes other players would scribble in the "Notes" section.