I am about “celebrate” my 40th year on planet earth. For more than 32 of those years I have been playing video games. I guess that makes me, in the parlance of the groundbreaking and dangerous film Grandma's Boy, a gray bush. While I do not like getting older, I do appreciate the experience of three decades of gaming. I started in 1982 with Pacman (like everybody else), my father bought us an Atari 2600, but then when I was about ten he bought me a Tandy 1000SX and someone lent me a copy of Kings Quest I. That was it, I was hooked, and although I have owned several consoles in the intervening 30 years (yes even a Turbo Grafix 16) I have always been a PC Gamer. But I've also been into pen and paper (straight up D&D) and my time in theatre introduced me to a lot of wine, weed and board games. I love them all.
What I don't love is the narrative that the media is building up around gamers. By media I mean the likes of CNN and Fox News (what they call mainstream media) but game media especially. There is this idea (that advertisers love) that the gaming world is a cohesive, sensible whole with only a few outliers to mess with the statistics. This cohesive whole is supposedly all male, under 30, anti-social, pro-violence, white, misogynistic, uncultured and rude. In essence we gamers are being reduced to our very worst elements. We can speculate forever as to why, and indeed I would encourage that discussion here whole-heartedly, but my own pet theory is that it's easy to sell COD and BF to these gamers. In essence, the industry really, really, doesn't want to produce games that are intelligent, humble, well-thought out and truly engaging. Trust me, that stuff is hard and expensive to produce. It's far easier to take boiler-plate action movies, strip them of the pretense of story and replace it with capture the flag, and insist that this is what the market wants. My theme then is this, I fear that the industry, hand in hand with a complacent, advertising-driven press, is trying to drive out anyone who isn't the above mentioned gun-toting neanderthal because they are discerning with their taste AND their money.
Now, since social networking has managed to destroy any last vestige of real community in the world, the industry can rely on our desperate sense of loneliness to exploit their audience. Now we must conform to these expectations because damn it, we just want to belong to a group, any group, to give us a sense of identity. Sure I'll sign on, take up my virtual AR-15 and commit to the never-ending war because that's what everyone else is doing. Then I'll post racist, homophobic and anti-women comments in message boards, even though I don't really mean it, because that's funny right,? It pisses-off my out-group which only forces me deeper into the bosom of my in-group right?
(Please pardon the pop sociology)
This is bad, like really, really bad and it's what I hope to combat here at 706Gaming. I don't want to start any battles and God knows we don't need another flame war, so this is not an act of cultural hostility. Instead, I would like to invite the world over, and history especially, to consider this a primary source in the annals of gamer culture. I don't really believe in that cohesive whole advertisers so cherish, instead I believe video games are much like any other media such as movies or books. No one cares if a gun-toting maniac reads a lot of books. No one cares if a serial killer likes Vivaldi. So why then do we care when they play videos game there are call for censorship?
When the Puritans first came to this country, it is my decided and well researched opinion, they came seeking the freedom to bully and repress people in exactly their own particular fashion and with no outside restraint. I fear that sentiment is still alive and kicking throughout this land from Plymouth Rock to Los Angeles. Same armies, different battle cries.