|There’s a good reason this picture is funny whilst simultaneously being ironic.|
I am continually depressed at how the Gaming Community is portrayed in the media, but it is not really any surprise the stereotypes keep being recycled. MMO Players particularly inhabit what can at times seem like an extremely insular and addictive world to anyone not aware that reality does in fact exist in the player base. This was ably demonstrated to me this morning.
It was time for my bi-yearly eye examination, and the lovely male mid-20’s assistant who took me for my screenings asked me casually in the process of his pre-testing spiel what I did as my main hobby. I thought for a moment about just responding ‘I play on the PC’ but instead I decided for a moment of total honesty. ‘I love gaming, especially playing MMO’s like World of Warcraft.’ The double take this guy then did was worth the moment alone, until he responded with a measure of amazement: ‘Isn’t that the really addictive game that ruins people’s lives?’
I needed a second after this to consider my position, and as I did the Assistant began to tell me about ‘this documentary he’d seen on Current TV about Warcraft…’ before realising he should probably be doing my eye health tests. Although I didn’t press him further I wonder if he was referring to Second Skin which was shown on Current TV (and ironically renamed My Gaming Addiction ‘so it grabs more attention as people flip channels’ ) and which joyfully announces from it’s publicity blurb that ‘of the 50 million players worldwide [*], 50 percent consider themselves addicted.’ I’m sorry?
This documentary covers the activities of three sets of players: looking at the Subjects page I recognise most of those ‘stereotypes’ too (which sadly includes just the one woman who appears to be there because she fell in love with a guy she met online. Yes, I KNOW this happens, yes it’s great that people can find love online, I just have a problem with the MMO Dating Service thing ^^.) I find myself thinking I need to watch the whole thing to give it an objective hearing but then I stop myself and decide that actually life is too short. I have better things to do.
This fight’s been going on a long time. Anything that causes a certain chemical reactions in the minds and bodies of human beingd has the potential to become an addiction. Gaming addiction is no different from alcohol, drugs or sex in that regard, the source of the problem isn’t just the individual but their particular circumstances. Gaming Designers should not be held responsible, the fault lies in those playing and not making the entertainment. With the current obsession the world seems to have with ‘reality’ TV, people who just play and have fun whilst gaming aren’t ever going to be as interesting as those who are affected by it’s darker sides. I may get upset at how people view Warcraft, but if I make sure that I’m not perpetuating any more stereotyping than is strictly necessary then I can at least ensure I’m not fuelling the fire.
I clearly don’t look the part most of the time, which is a start.
[*] Covering games other than Warcraft, including Second Life and Everquest II.