March 21st, 2008
Nintendo, in previous Gamecube advertisements used the slogan: ‘You are what you play, (so) who are you?’.
We don’t always realize it but as ‘core gamers’ video games have become part of our identity. The threat of anything that could challenge what we are tied to, what we love, creates its own series fan based arrogance. Look at the typecasting language of ‘n00b’, ‘133t’ and ‘hardcore gamer’. Look at the backlash towards the casual gaming phenomena. Even worse read a community forum and see what happens when someone is baited into verbal aggression. Many of us call it fanboyism, for its wider scope I prefer using the term ‘bias’. It is how we deal with this that reflects our industry.
We might not realize it but as gamers we are representatives of our medium, for outsiders looking in we are, like the slogan says; what we play. As gamers we define our medium, we create the culture and ultimately we affect how others perceive our medium. As someone whom has always had a deep passion for this medium I feel as though it is our job as gamers to uphold certain responsibilities so that we allow our medium to expanded out to the masses.
I want to share some ideals that I personally uphold when presenting our medium to others whom perhaps are new or less understanding of video games than myself. I would like to hear your thoughts as well so please leave me a comment at the end.
Create Understanding and Make it Crystal Clear
Being part of the enthusiast crowd means that for the people around us we are in many cases the authority figures. Our friends, family and the community look to us for sound gaming information and advice. As enthusiasts I think that it is very easy to get caught up in the “this game is so great, you simply have to play, you don’t know what you’re missing out on!” ideology that we lose sight of our audiences’ understanding.
When faced with situations in which we can discuss video games with others I believe that creating understanding is the key. We want to win non-gamers over. By win over I don’t mean turn them into avid players rather we need to ensure that they understand where we are coming from. They should be able to see what makes video games such an exciting medium and why they should care or at least why they should respect video games and treat it for what it is; an art form.
To do this we need to lose the bias and create a well informed, understandable case and present it effectively so that there is no reason why the listener should not at least respect our enthusiast nature. Every opportunity like this in which I discuss games with friends, previous customers, family etc I try to enforce this rule. I streamline what I say and try to be as clear and logical as possible. You would be surprised how many people change their mind about video games once someone speaks to them in a language in which they can understand.
Continuing on I use this same approach when speaking to other gamers as well. Nobody likes a ‘know it all’ and in many cases I feel as though I could easily come across this way. Just like in any conversation no one enjoys to be on the receiving end of someone whom knows more than their own good. Sometimes you just need to use a little restraint to ensure that both parties enjoy the spirit of the conversation. So in these instances I streamline what I say so that the other people feel comfortable with what I am saying.
Respect Other People’s Interest
The more I think about the previous two points the more I believe that it is all a matter of respect. If we respect someone then we will treat them with respect by allowing them to understand us. This matter of respect once again continues on here.
If we respect someone then we will show that respect by accepting that they may not be entirely interested in video games. Many times I have observed fellow gamers ranting on to friends or family whom are simply uninterested.
I quite despise this actually as it comes across as offensive and for the interlocuters of the conversation it lowers the reputation of both our medium and the ranting maniac at hand.
Helping Beginner Players, its all about Community
We were all n00bs at one time or another. Its a fact of life. Which is why I think it is important for experienced players to recognize this and do what they can to assist newer players. I don’t play games online so for me this is uncommon and usually kept among my physical gaming friends but I still feel as though it is important to recognize. This whole n00b culture, especially at LAN parties can be quite frustrating to watch. If someone is having difficulty with a game or setting up their equipment, why is it necessary for us to verbally bash them about it? What gives us the right? By aiding newer players in their time of need we are only helping the community thrive as a whole.
Promote Healthy Game Culture
Thanks to…well ourselves video games are stereotyped as being unhealthy addictions. Of course, much like any form of entertainment this is all user dependent. Long sessions of gaming binges, unhealthy eating habits and awkward seating posture are all unhealthy practices of probably far too many players. By undertaking in these activities we are not only causing harm to ourselves but also to the reputation of our industry.
When this sort of behavior is observed by friends and family, despite being the player’s fault it often falls back onto the game as the reason or cause. The best way to fix this image problem is to stop playing games like this. Take breaks, go eat a stick of celery, sit in a comfortable position. Its all about looking after yourself.