Quote Debate: “I Think Some Gamers are Ticking Time Bombs”
Video games have come a long way.
However, while the hobby has long since gone mainstream, there remains a deeply entrenched bias – and even fear – of the pastime, especially among older individuals. What’s even more concerning, though, is not that they’re accepting the archaic “geek” stereotype, but something far more sinister.
Thanks to a seemingly continuous series of nasty news articles somehow related to video games, the mainstream press doesn’t think too highly of gamers. Take, for instance, an old colleague of mine. He and I once worked for the same newspaper (over a decade ago now) and he has since moved on to a rather large and highly visible publication. I recently caught up with him via LinkedIn and we got to chatting. The direction that conversation took is worthy of further discussion.
I said I was part of a site that sought to cast a positive light on video game critics and journalists in general, mostly because no such endeavor exists. He first praised the idea, saying it’s always worthwhile to “try something original.” But as for our effort to legitimize the efforts of our professionals – I mentioned VGRHQ’s ultimate goal of becoming a governing body of sorts that offers prestigious rewards to our hard-working journalists – he balked.
“You are aware of the reputation of gamers, right?” he asked.
“Yes, of course,” I replied. “That’s a big reason why we started VGRHQ.”
“And like I said, I think it’s a good idea. But while it might work within your industry, I don’t see it getting widespread recognition – like the Oscars or something – unless certain images are destroyed.”
“Quite frankly, there are those of us who think some gamers are ticking time bombs.”
At this, I had to pause. I have a psychology degree and over thirty years experience in gaming and honestly, I’ve never met a fellow gamer who I’d label a “ticking time bomb.” Then again, I tried to view the situation from my old colleague’s position: For years, they’ve only covered the most disturbing stories from this industry; the only time they produced a headline was when video games were somehow tied to an awful occurrence.
He also cited all this media online of gamers “raging” on YouTube and the reactions of gamers in communities and forums, which he described as “borderline psychotic.” While he understands the passion of those involved in the hobby, he worries that such passion is a breeding ground for violent behavior. Some studies in the past hint at such a possibility, especially in younger individuals.
“The bottom line,” he finished with a sigh, “is that you’re doing. It’s not real, of course, but you are making something happen. It’s not passive. As such, I think it might mess with the minds of the less stable, perhaps more so than violent movies or music.”
That’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. The interactive nature of video games has been a stumbling block for many, especially those who already viewed gamers as “weird.” And so, the takeaway from this conversation was this: While we’ve definitely advanced, while the “nerd” stereotype is beginning to diminish, we’ve adopted a new stereotype and this one is much more damaging. There are many out there who are actually afraid of gamers.
Now that’s disturbing.