Sunday, September 10, 2006

Gamer Shame

I just saw this notice posted for a local school about their computer education program:

...goals are accomplished by using age and developmentally appropriate software. No video games or movies are used in the enrichment program.

So... we're saying video games and movies can't be educational?

Now, I totally realize there's a valid point behind what they're saying. Some parents may let their kids log a little too much time in front of World of Warcraft or ye olde boob-tube. But still, this reinforces a stereotype that video games feed the dregs of society.

In the fantastic Gamasutra Podcast, GDC Radio's Tom Kim interviews Computer Gaming World's Jeff Green. It's a great interview about the media portrayal of the gaming industry, and Tom covers a great topic during a couple of instances: gamer shame.

One thing that Jeff brings up several times is that he's excited that Microsoft's new rebranding efforts, including his relaunched magazine, will start pushing gaming more into the mainstream. Jeff mentions numerous times how he's hoping the new marketing initiative will allow gamers not to "feel like they're shopping in the adult DVD rack" of their local outlet. Jeff brings light to the fact that games often feel like they're being judged while buying games... as if they're doing something unseemly.

It's true. I can't place my finger on why, but it's absolutely freakin' true. Do you know how long it took me to come out of the closet about being an indy game developer?

They mention an New York Times article by Seth Schiesel (forgive me if I got the name wrong) where the industry itself has an image problem - and often doesn't project itself necessarily into the mainstream. Instead, the "hard core" gamers are outsiders, but people who watch "Lost" for eighteen consecutive hours are considered considerably mainstream. Everyone is hardcore about something... just some things are less "geekish" than others.

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