+ 1 Ignorance

We gamers don’t always have an easy time with our hobby: we have to endure constant accusations from uninformed members of the public that videogames are the scourge of society, teaching children to become isolated, anti-social shut-ins and teaching them to commit murder while they do so. They are blamed as the cause of obesity in children while older generations are accused of having no lives, instead choosing to live out their days in virtual worlds that are detrimental to both their physical and psychological health.

This is all nonsense, of course: the above symptoms are most likely a result of lazy parenting and games have been proven to improve hand-eye coordination, beneficially affect a player’s perception of the world, expand their knowledge on subjects they might otherwise have never had an interest in and enhance their social skills while building their teamwork and problem solving abilities through achieving a common goal, ultimately bettering them as individuals in the process.

But try telling that to some people.

I’m uncertain as to where this negative stereotyping of the average videogamer comes from, but despite the medium’s huge mainstream popularity and it becoming increasingly recognised as viable an art form as music, film, television and theatre – spearheaded by industry heavyweights such as Tommy Tallarico and his Video Games Live series of concerts amongst others – this unfair view still rears its ugly head in the media every so often.

Just the other day, there was a BBC News report on what children around the country were asking for for Christmas (or something, I wasn’t really watching it properly).  It started off by showing a number of school kids saying that they wanted wake up on Christmas day to find several videogames in their stocking. It then proceeded to state that ‘it wasn’t all about consoles and videogames this Christmas’ before other kids said how they wanted differing toys, DVDs and iPods. From the way the report was made, I couldn’t help but take from it an underlying implication that children asking for games for their Christmas was a bad sign (but asking for Apple products, on the other hand, was a-okay!)

I’ve even had this view thrust upon me on a personal level only recently. I was playing Halo: Reach (naturally) with a couple of pals one evening and we were talking away and having a laugh as we shot and stuck some foos. At one point, while I was in the middle of saying something, my mum’s pal entered the room and, upon seeing nobody else in the room, she asked me if I was talking to my ‘imaginary friends’. Fair enough, she probably didn’t realise I was talking to people across the country, but did she really need to declare that she didn’t ‘get’ games before leaving the room?

The problem is bigger and more serious than just a few ignorant individuals irking me, however: such a view is also damaging — perhaps irrevocably — the country on a national level.

The current bleak economic outlook has been a grim one for years now, but the previous Labour government seemed focused on taking the country out of such economic sorrow by nurturing the UK’s most successful and profitable creative industry: the videogame trade. With a market valued at £13.5 million earlier this year, more money is spent on products in this sector than any other. In line with their proposals to encourage consumer spending to finally emerge from the credit crunch, they put forward proposals to provide tax cuts for the industry which, while initially increasing national costs, would ultimately add a further £66.8 million to the UK’s GDP. The industry looked set to be the economy’s saviour, with things finally set to improve after such an extended period of financial hardship…

So what does the Coalition government do almost immediately after taking power? Dismiss such proposals, of course, utterly devastating the British videogame industry in the process. This dismissal has hit Dundee, long since been known as the hub of game development in the UK and home to the GTA and Crackdown series amongst numerous others, so hard that nearly a fifth of the personnel working in the industry now no longer have a job. This unemployed talent will most likely be snapped up by developers in countries that do have these tax breaks, making the possibility of recovering from such a devastating blow anytime in the near future even more remote. This, along with severe budget cuts across the board, means that economic upturn will now most likely take longer than originally forecast.

But who cares? They’re only games, right?

Where would you rather be: having fun with your pals in a virtual world full of excitement, fun and wonder, or existing in a depressing and gloomy reality savaged by economic hardship brought about by belligerent, ignorant, short-sighted politicians?

You know where to find me.






3 responses to “+ 1 Ignorance”

  1. Celeste avatar

    Damn, I certainly hope I never unwittingly irk you.

    Nice one Mike. Totally agree. My heart sank a little when I found out that the government had dismissed TIGA’s research and proposals re developer tax cuts.

  2. GraeXZ avatar

    Great blog, you’ve pretty much summed up my own feelings on the subject. I’m sure if some of the people who put these news stories on the air, or even your mum’s friend, if they just sat down with a game like Enslaved or Fable they might actually ‘get’ what it’s all about and stop making ridiculous generalizations about the gamer community, those of us inside the gamer circle know that the majority of us are well-adjusted, sociable and mature (excluding any Call of Duty online players) and we’re not all lazy wasters with dreams of murder.

  3. […] Originally published on Ready Up on 20th November. […]

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