Poll Question 021 – Is video gaming portrayed badly in the mainstream media?

9th March 2007

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half Life 1, 2 and 3
Introduction

I have just finished watching an episode of Stargate Atlantis entitled The Game. It will be unavoidable for me to discuss this episode without spoiling the plot for you, so if you haven’t already seen it and would like to watch it without my biased opinion I suggest you stop reading now!

First the Question

The poll questions this week is:
“Is video gaming portrayed badly in the mainstream media?”

The Premise

The brief outline of the story is as follows. Major Colonel John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay discovered a lab that contained what seemed to be an elaborate strategy game. They began playing and were having a good time. A team visited a planet and found images of one of the players scattered around the main city. These images were seemingly of their God”. In reality this “game” was in fact a real world and the instructions of the “players”, via the computer consoles, were transmitted to the “real world” and were carried out. It’s an interesting premise with plenty of opportunity to explore action versus consequence etc. As the story line evolves the two main protagonists become more and more intransigent and aggressive. That is a little disconcerting but the next develop is more worrying.

Uncontrollable

Even though the fact that it is not a game but a real situation is known it doesn’t stop two other people from participating in another “game”. These two players quickly get carried away. The impression giving is that games players are:

  • Unable to control themselves
  • Unable to separate game from reality
Re-enforcing a stereotype

Actions portrayed in this manner only go to re-enforce stereotypes and certainly don’t represent the reality. Or at least I hope they don’t. In a previous episode the female lead character pretended to like World of Warcraft to distract the attention of a scientist. This character was shown as being totally obsessed with the game.

Not Again

There will be some readers who will be rolling their eyes and saying “Not again?” after my recent post entitled Booth Babes Are Bad. I believe that public perception is very important and we, as a gaming community, need to do what we can to improve that image.

Conclusion

Perhaps what we need is somebody to engage a firm of Public Relations specialists to ensure that words like “Gamer” don’t have negative connotations.

Final Results

Is video gaming portrayed badly in the mainstream media?

  • Yes, we get a raw deal: 92%
  • No, it’s a fair reflection of the truth: 8%
  • Total votes: 39

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10 Comments

  1. Aniline

    There’s also another aspect and that is gaming is portrayed as a low quality level of entertainment compared to say, cinema – meaning not artistic, aesthetic, intellectual, philosophical etc. Which is ridiculous when you see the trash that gets churned out of the big movie companies.

    But I would not worry because the gamer generation is already the next business generation and hence the PR will only get better.

  2. “Is video gaming portrayed badly in the mainstream media?”

    There’s one name that strikes rage and anger into the hearts of countless gamers:

    Jack. Thompson.

    There’s others, too. It’s just the easiest person to come up with.

    Gamers have been brought through mainstream media as a negative view because of people attaching games to negative effects. Video game addiction (no different from addiction to eating cheese.. Firearms.. Planting.. Television…) and allegations that because we spend time on computers and consoles all the time that we lack the social skills of any other human being. Games apparently cause violence, train us in skills that are useless in the future and makes us innocent and unable to comprehend normal society.

    People are always afraid of what they cannot understand.

  3. zeroth404

    I truly expect a unanimous “yes” vote.

  4. I think that gaming is ALWAYS seen as bad in the mass media. Despite claims by people that gaming is not actually bad, people will always try to make a connection between video game violence, sex, etc. and their real world counterparts.

    Also, Phillip, I don’t think anyone was “obssed” with WoW.

  5. Jimbo

    I’m going to chop your post, phillip!

    “Is video gaming portrayed badly in the mainstream media?”

    It goes both ways:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4685909/
    VERSUS
    http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/news/local/crime_courts/16442802.htm

    Only problem is a childs murder will always attract more attention then a scientific study on surgeons.

    “In a previous episode the female lead character pretended to like World of Warcraft to distract the attention of a scientist. This character was shown as being totally obssed with the game.”

    It is a stereotype, though I hope it was portrayed as a “friendly” one. I’m guessing it’s just placing the scientist in a nerdy roll, which we’ve all seen before. I mean we all have friends who are addicted to that game like it’s a drug. All types of shows try to relate to the audience in one way or another. If some people thought it was dumb or corny like you or probably me if I saw it, others in the audience may actually like it.

    “I believe that public perception is very important and we, as a gaming community, need to do what we can to improve that image.”

    Know how to get a major blow in for improving it? Get rid of the vg awards on Spike TV. Friggin” pathetic piece of gaming garbage stinkin” up the whole outlook.

  6. zeroth404

    it doesnt matter if it goes both ways.

    if all news stories are negative, its badly treating games.

    if only some new stories are negative, they’re still treating games badly.

    unless all articles are positive (because there is no reason to treat games badly) then games are still being treated unfairly.

  7. Jimbo

    “unless all articles are positive (because there is no reason to treat games badly) then games are still being treated unfairly.”

    Only in a perfect world will everything be positive. Let’s face it…most “news” is negative. For anything. Not just games. Especially in north america– not to veer off the subject, but writers dont care if they’re making people mad or sad. They only care about how many people they get to read/watch. It’s their job. Unfortunately negative stories attract more people, and that’s why things get blown out of proportion.

    Solution? People need to concentrate on the positive more. I’d go further in, but I know it’s not going to happen so what’s the point?

  8. Ever since I used to flick the dead fags off the Space Invader machine at the local arcade, gaming has had a bad press. It is this legacy, of addled kids addicted to mindless machinery in dark, dank emporiums, where they are likely to fall under the influence of a bad crowd, that has cursed our hobby/pursuit for nearly half a generation. But, as ever, times they are a changing. There is quite a push here (Blighty, The UKay) from academia for games to seen as a valid cerebral pursuit. They improve memory, visual and aural recognition, reasoning powers and hand – eye co-ordination. Indeed, we have a growing population of ‘silver” gamers as a result. Part of the problem is the media’s inability to accept that they make mistakes and need to re-evaluate their editorial opinion. Another part, is the shameless use of the moot subject by advertisers and publishers in order to get any press for their product (Manhunter springs to mind) And, lastly, the really poor coverage it gets from TV networks ie., late at night, cheapo, CRAP. Nothing lasts forever and, as the number of gamers grows ever more, including “casual” gamers (whoever they are) we can only look to better times.

  9. It’s not misrepresented any worse than TV, or computers, or sports fans, or America, or any country that’s not yours, or the “other” political party, or any opinion is in an online debate.

    It’s the nature of the human mind. The right answer is never at the extreme edges of opinion, it’s always somewhere in the middle. But at the extreme edges of opinion are where you find the most flawed arguments, which are the fuel of continued debates. The longer a debate exists, the more attention it gets, as opposed to debates that reach a resolution and are done before anyone else hears about them.

    In this case, you have “Gamers” vs “Normal People”

    Normal people hear about fps gamers who go nuts and blow up buildings, and WoW gamers who let their children starve in order to play the game, and online gamers which consists of racists, pedophiles, griefers, and trolls.
    Gamers think that either all of this is completely bogus, or they realize that Gamers consist as all types, just like normal people. This includes the scum that give XBOX Live a bad name, the negligent MMO addicts and the FPS gamers who take their gaming a bit too seriously. Even then they complain about he negative press, I mean, why does the media have to focus on all the negative stuff? Why can’t they focus on the positive things that Gamers have done for society, like….

    …the donations to Child’s Play to help kids with cancer and such and… DDR is healthy… Wii fit…?

    … anything else?

    Fact is that it’s easy to get media attention by doing something wrong, but to get positive media attention, you have to actually do something to contribute to society. Video games just don’t go terribly far in that category because they are a form of entertainment.

    So sure, Video gamers do get a bad rap, but no more so than any other group.

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