Is enjoying games still a stigma?

Do you mention video games as one of your hobbies? Perhaps more of us should – numerous present gen consoles are becoming some of the best-selling game devices of all time, helping those who wouldn’t normally play games to become engaged and willing to try them.

But what about the rest of us who do this full-time so to speak? The people to whom the DS is a five year old console.

A personal example

The analogy of the DS is a good one. I remember queueing for the original Nintendo DS back in 2005 at a midnight launch. I also remember that some clubbers were trying to walk home after a short night out. They thought we too were queueing for a nightclub, and started to chat to those of us waiting there.

After explaining that we were waiting for the new Nintendo console, they came in and bought one rather than moving on to their intended venue. I can only assume based on our brief chat they were former gamers as children – remembering their nostalgia for Nintendo long since past.

A family from Katamari Damacy.

Fast forward four years and this is apparent everyhwere – a growing population of casual gamers have realised the enjoyment that can be taken from gaming as adults. The positives are starting to vastly outweigh any negative connotations for these new, but now more informed new gamers.

There is no denying that video games have become more of a mainsteam pastime of late – but even so my personal experience with being a vocal video games supporter has been largely negative. This is usually due to the following:

  • Games critique doesn’t have the same level of respect afforded to film appreciation, or TV.
  • Gamers are not properly represented our respective parliaments and institutions, and this leads to distrust and scepticism, largely fuelled by..
  • The media. Our specialist press is deemed as niche, and the mainstream press focusses on violent games, big releases, and feel good stories.
  • We all know the old idiom of games being for kids, we’re all living, breathing examples of the opposite.

There is another way

Many gamers I know are quite ashamed – or made to feel ashamed by what they enjoy, despite the joy it gives them. There are good reasons for this largely related to gaming’s infancy, and like anything young it’s open to exploitation. There’s a really nice metaphor for this too in Left 4 Dead – for those who haven’t played it features some really intriguing in-game graffiti.

Graffiti from Left 4 Dead, the largest of which reads: We are the real monsters.

This is what being a gamer often feels like to me; a continual conversation. Only the voices outside of the industry are the largest and loudest. Gamers may deal with a huge amount of prejudice for what they enjoy, but we do so because the experience of playing games can be profoundly positive and personal. The greater interaction playing them involves, over say a movie or TV programme means we feel obliged to speak up for their merits.

Is your gaming a closely guarded secret or a badge of honour? Personally, I’m long past the need for reassurance or acceptance from others, but part of me hopes others are too.

6 replies on “Is enjoying games still a stigma?”

The situation is ever so slowly improving, but still has a ways to go. What I see, and find curious, is that a lot of people who do play games still seem to look down their nose at “Gamers.” In my office, my department has 2 of us who are pretty hardcore gamers, and two of us who game regularly enough to talk about the topic. So, y’know, when there’s some big announcement we get to talking about it, and people from other departments will wonder by, listen for a minute, chuckle and shake their head and walk away as if to say “Those silly internet people…” Which I’m used to. But what makes it really strange is that I *KNOW* some of these people laughing at us own and love their Wiis!! But still, to them the idea of talking about games out loud… I dunno, it’s like some improper topic or something. Very strange.

I’ve always felt a degree of shame in the hobby, even when in the company of fellow gamers. To people who know me well, I’m a huge fan of the art, one whose passion has spanned over eighteen years (and several websites 😛 ). To others, however, I keep quiet. I think a large part of the problem is that it’s largely seen as a worthless pastime, and one that people should grow out of if they know what’s good for them. Naturally, that opinion is at odds with my own, but we’re still outnumbered as a collective, and there still isn’t enough of a significant push outside of the specialist media to persuade outsiders to give games a chance.

I’m proud to be a gamer and i think most others are as well. Gaming has slowly emerged to be a serious force in the entertainment industry. The ‘stigma’ can also be attributed to being a generational thing, for those that didn’t grow up playing some sort of video games are now becoming the minority. BTW i love your site design, great work!

I fully admit it when the topic of hobbies comes up. I’ve never had a problem talking about it, but maybe that’s because it’s always been a big part of my life. Now that I run a gaming blog and podcast, it would seem especially silly for me personally not to talk about it, even with non-gamers.

When around other gamers, I feel confident of the hobby, having been playing games since the NES days. If I’m around non-gamers, I don’t deny my “gaming heritage”, but I’m not exactly anxious to bring it up, either.

Being a fan of Lego and a huge collection of it, being a gamer is often the least of my worries when it comes to listing my interests. I’ve been a gamer since I was a child, but I feel that as i’ve grown up, so have the games themselves. For this I don’t mean things like Call of Duty and Violent Shooter X, but rather the number of games nowadays with a certain maturity. Ico’s a standout example. As the industry grows I feel assured that games will be less “cultish” and more accepted. Regardless of the games for it and my opinion of it, I think Nintendo have done an excellent job in this via the Wii.

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