ESA: Gamers are People. Press: Yeah, Right!

The fact that a press release like this has to exist is evidence that the press, both mainstream and specialist, is not doing a good enough job shattering stereotypes about gamers on their own. I can’t think of any other medium, or even a major subset of a medium (outside of pornography) that has such a negative connotation associated with simply consuming it.

Some of this stereotyping comes from the generation gap between people who grew up playing games and those who didn’t, but much of it comes from a mainstream press obsessed with media violence and a specialist pressed obsessed with niche titles and “gamer culture.” (a term which game magazines tend to pigeonhole to mean anime, comics, and technolgical gadgets.)

Ironically, the mainstream press sometimes does a better job of breaking the gamer stereotype than the specialist press does. A quick look at just the New York Times’ recent video game coverage reveals articles featuring members of the armed forces using online games to connect with their families and friends, academics setting up a video game conference and families coming together around a video game rec room. In other words, regular people who just happen to do things with games.

These are the kinds of human interest stories the specialist press should embrace. I’d love to see a specialist magazine devote a regular monthly feature focused on gamers. Not “celebrity gamers” or “ultimate gamers” or gamers who spend 80 hours a week playing Ultima Online, but regular people who with intelligent things to say about their life and their gaming hobby. These pieces wouldn’t have to be actively defensive of gaming as a hobby; as the ESA’s press release shows, simply showing evidence that gamers have outside lives is defense enough. Some “hardcore” gamers might be put off by these human interest pieces, but these features might convince more casual game fans to consider a magazine they used to think was too inaccesible.

5 thoughts on “ESA: Gamers are People. Press: Yeah, Right!

  1. That’s funny, I was just complaining about how I think that the problem with women in gaming is not that not enough women are playing videogames or that they don’t make games that women like; but that videogame culture is very male-centric. The fact that there is a definied “videogame culture” is part of this problem, or maybe even the cause. And the culture comes from the media – which paints v. gaming as a male activity, and also promotes things like this crap. Bleh.

    ~Kris

  2. I wanted to comment on the press release, which I thought was rather insulting. The release makes it sound as if gaming isn’t an activity that one can perform for a bit then move on. I could almost hear the gasps as the release considered it so amazing that gamers also read and *gasp* exercise and *GASP* lead normal lives the rest of the day when they aren’t playing games.

  3. The enthusiast press could also use some journalists pitching stories like these. The editors can’t possibly think of every idea for a feature, or monitor enough of these types of stories. Writers out there need to help.

  4. Why do we have to be so defensive about our hobby/passion? I think it’s the gaming press that helps to reinforce our “low self-esteem” or self-consciousness about being nerdy gamers. Gamers are people too? Way to state the obvious, ESA.

  5. I think comics still have a negative connotation associated with simply consuming it, although maybe it’s not quite as bad as games.

    Incidentally, Kyle, have you read about the Trip Hawkins / GamePro thingie?

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