Gamasutra - Game Fandom and The Church of Gamers
Gamasutra has an opinion piece up by Douglas Wilson, exploring the idea that the stereotypical gamer has become over-focused and defensive and suggesting that both gamers and developers need to view gaming from a wider perspective:
...The problem is, the “gaming community” has become a kind of cult. Organized around worship sites like Kotaku, 1UP, and Penny Arcade, the Church of Gamers congregates in Internet forums and online games, rallying against the Great Satan of Jack Thompson. Smitten with near-religious fervor over their hobby, these so-called gamers increasingly treat digital games as a devotional object, a thing morally good in itself.
It’s great to be a passionate about one’s hobbies. But when fans lose touch with reality, they also lose perspective on the more important parts of life. And in doing so, gamers ironically stifle innovation in the medium they so love.
On mixing gaming, politics and real life issues:
...There are many good reasons to both laud and criticize Senators Clinton and Obama. But their views on videogames strike me as irrelevant. In 2008 we face a number of complex problems, including faltering economies, large-scale environmental change, viral epidemics, healthcare policy, genocides, terrorism, war, and souring foreign relations. No matter how you spin it, millions of human lives are at stake.
And yet, some gamers remain acutely concerned with what kind of regulations will be levied on future Grand Theft Auto sequels. This is not just outrageous, it’s altogether absurd.
I don’t mean to suggest that we should all give up games and go join the Peace Corps. After all, I’m not exactly a saint myself. Nor am I saying that we should altogether ignore issues of media policy. A candidate’s view on media usage could be indicative of their more general views on free speech. But I do know that it’s essential that we always keep the larger picture in mind and not fall victim to our overly narrow interests.
Of course, my depiction of the militant gamer is itself a stereotype. For every crazed devotee to the Church of Gamers, there are videogame players who do community service, get involved with their church, or volunteer for their political party. But unfortunately, as the Mass Effect controversy demonstrates, the rabidly protectionist gamer is the public face that [the] gaming community increasingly presents to the larger world.
Thus, this article is a plea to the gaming community - both developers and gamers - to stop talking about Jack Thompson; to hold itself to higher ethical standards than its critics; to stop falling into the victim complex; to resist exclusivity, and embrace players from all walks of life; to demand that gaming blogs stop the hysterical muckraking and misogyny; and most of all, to get more political, and not just about issues of games and media policy.