Out of the Basement and Into Society

You live in your mother’s basement. Discarded cans of soda, half empty bags of Cheetos, and greasy pizza boxes litter the floor. Sitting on the slightly discolored, somewhat odorous couch is you, three hundred pounds of pimples and absurdly messy hair. In your stained wife beater and boxers you squint at the 24 inch TV for hours on end. What is it that’s so interesting, to eat away your life? Is that… Ar tonelico? Oh, it makes sense now. What a lonely thirty two year old… Must have taken months to save up enough of his allowance to earn that piece of cartoon porn.

That’s not you? My apologies. You must be that fourteen year old. After school everyday where you’re accused and ridiculed for being the ‘nerd’, you go directly home and switch on the 360. Black Ops II, of course, what else is there to play? You go into multi-player, your fourth time over prestiged avatar seemingly looming over the competition. In the game, you snipe and knife the competition mercilessly, cackling through the microphone and calling your enemies unsavory names. Should your teammates fall behind your steadily rising kill count, they also become the victims of your vocal onslaught, being accused of being worthless, or worse yet, a girl. All of this continues late into the night, until you’re finally forced to go to bed and repeat the process again.

Huh, that’s not it either? Oh, okay. You’re part of the group that crawls in the shadows of the Internet. Gathering up your meager typing and grammar skills, you strike out at anyone and everyone in the electronic world, with even more hatred than the angry fourteen year old. Many of your kind take to video game forums and comment sections, spewing venomous words at each other. While you are seem have differing opinions in some aspects and the same in others, arguing is simply part of your nature, and you will go out of your way to make someone else feel like the worst person in the world for offering a different perspective. You might get warned, maybe even get banned, but you change your IP address and begin anew in a couple of days, continuing the cycle of flames wars or hatred.

Really? You’re not any of those? Wait… you’re a girl? I didn’t think girls played games… I mean, seriously, video games are only for little kids and nerds. Why are you playing them?

Try as we might, most of our English-speaking society does not think too highly of gamers. A lot of it is thanks to the nasty habit many people have called stereotyping–a problem that in within almost all groups of people, gamers included. Even with the Wii and mobile platforms introducing gaming to a wide and mostly untapped audience, the ‘casual’ gamer, the stigma still remains. With more and more people playing video games than ever before, why do most people act like closet nerds that will salivate over the next World of Warcraft expansion and lash out at anyone that didn’t play and love the latest Halo installment?

The answer is quite simple… because we still act like it. While (at least I like to personally believe) many gamers have become more mature over the years, there’s still a small, very vocal minority that gives us a bad name. Those are the angry gamers that yell profanities over Xbox Live, the trolls that hide in gaming communities and lash out, even those that look down at other people for playing games they don’t deem ‘hardcore’ enough.

It’s unfortunate, really, because the majority of gamers are quite mature. Gaming hasn’t been around long in the grand scheme of things, but there is a new group of gamer out there since it’s integration into the home. It’s those that spent their whole lives playing games, and now have grown into gaming adults. They have careers and homes, spouses and children, but still enjoy booting up the PS3 and playing a few hours of Mass Effect 3 when they can. It’s even the group most of us here on Game Podunk are in.

So, why do people not think of the average, grown gamer? Frankly, it’s because we don’t make ourselves known. It’s like that for a variety reasons. First, and one many of us and attest to, if the lack of free time. As other, more pressing things in real life come into our lives, we have less time for our electronic ones. Not only do we have less time for gaming, we have less time for going into gaming communities and having our voice be heard.

Therefore, it only makes sense that most of those that occupy the more popular gaming communities (think IGN) are the younger crowds and those with a lot of free time… in other words, the ones that help bring the negative stereotypes into being. Unfortunately, it’s places like these that the general public see gamers the most. It’s here where the average person sees the fan boy wars, the terrible insults lobbed at each other for differing opinions, and general negative attitudes.

What can we do to reverse this cycle of thinking? It’s a simple concept, but one that’s hard to execute… basically, we have to let the world know that mature gamers exist. We have to go into those terrible, popular gaming communities and show that yes, there are intelligent gamers that think well of their hobby and industry. We can introduce new gamers to the crowd, weaning them in on fun simple games until they’re sitting there playing Tales of Vesperia along with us. We have to express our open-minded views on gaming, and not look down on someone because they enjoyed the new mobile iteration of Angry Birds over the next entry of the Just Cause series.

You want people to stop thinking we’re bitter basement nerds? All we have to do is make the very vocal, angry minority seem just that: Very vocal, very angry, and very much the minority. Reversing stereotypes is far from easy, but taking the steps to do so will help us look better the the eyes of society. Of course, there will always be those that think games are ‘only for kids’ and scoff at the gaming community that’s built up, but you can’t make everyone happy, can you?

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