The subject of gamers and cultural acceptance has been a major issure for the industry since its infancy. From stereotypes of overweight, unwashed man-boys living in their mother’s basements to socially-awkward introverts who have never kissed a girl, gamers were not often flatteringly portrayed. As the videogame industry has grown, the term “gamer” has begun to evolve. But while acceptance for the hobby has grown, there are still many who view the pastime as a thing to be ashamed of.
This disparity was made painfully obvious when a pair of news stories hit the wires over the weekend. One shows just how deep games have embedded themselves in popular culture, while the other highlights the ignorance and malice that still exists towards games and those who play them.
Columbus, Ohio – Before we begin, I feel obligated to point out that I’ve lived 29 of my last 30 years here in the heart of Buckeye country. I’m an Ohio State fan born and raised, and therefore I may be slightly biased. Still, this is one of the coolest things to ever happen anywhere. Ever. (Click the image to view the YouTube video in HD)
Beginning with an ode to the arcade classic Space Invaders, the band spent the next ten minutes performing a dazzling display of videogame imagery and music. Titles such as Pokemon, Mario and Zelda were honored alongside coin-op icon Pac Man and the more modern Halo. The crowd went nuts.
Remember that this is a videogame tribute performed in one of college sports’ largest stadiums filled to capacity with a sold-out crowd of sports fans. Jocks. Football-heads. Videogaming’s oldest nemesis. But the college town never batted an eye nor screamed, “Nerd!” The show was a grand display of how videogames have embedded themselves deep within our popular culture.
Maine – Citizens of the United States are painfully aware that another election season is upon them. With vile, slanderous campaigns ringing out from every corner of the political landscape, it’s not surprising to find a political party willing to insult our intelligence with another ill-conceived anti-campaign. Meet the Maine Republican Party.
The target of their attacks is Colleen Lachowicz, a woman who is running for one of the state’s Senate seats. But instead of the usual attacks on a candidate’s work history, political beliefs, or religion, the Maine Republican Party felt it appropriate to single Colleen out for something else entirely. Mrs Lachowicz is a proud player of Blizzard’s World of Warcraft.
Through Colleen’s World — a website set up by the Main Republican Party — Colleen is attacked for being a gamer. Playing the world’s most popular MMO apparently makes Mrs Lachowicz too immature for government work. That’s right; someone thought it was appropriate to insult the 10 million current subscribers and countless gamers who have played but no longer subscribe to the MMO in an attempt to paint their opponent in a negative light.
“Maine needs a State Senator that lives in the real world, not in Colleen’s fantasy world.” – Colleen’s World website
Instead of focusing on what they can do for their constituents, the Maine GOP focuses on the fact that Colleen is a gamer. Then argue that anyone who plays a game like World of Warcraft can’t possibly be fit to run a big-boy position like State Senator. The claims clearly assume that people should view gaming as a negative hobby. What the Colleen’s World website actually shows is that the Maine Republican Party is out of touch with society by about three decades. As a gamer and former World of Warcraft player, it really pisses me off. (Source: GamesIndustry.biz)
I don’t often spend time talking about gaming as a culture.
It’s an important subject, but it’s not what I do best. The appearance of these two news items during the same weekend painted such a dramatic picture of the schism that still exists between those who accept videogames and those who still exile them to dark, body-odor scented basements that I just couldn’t bite my tongue.
For various reasons, each of these stories struck close to my heart. If you have any examples of a time when a videogaming reference surprised you with its appearance in pop culture, or a time when a narrow-minded gaming ignorance reared its ugly head, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.Posted in Op Ed by Steve R Gibson on October 9, 2012