"You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
News Flash: The media likes to pick on the video game industry. No matter what the topic is, the mainstream news media (CNN, Fox News, ABC, etc.) seems to have it out for us gamers. When you listen to the things people say about us on the news you might think we were guilty of bank robbery, vandalism, and worse, producing sitcoms for NBC. But we video game players aren't a bad lot; we just get a bad rub in the media. It's almost as if they hate us or something.
The problem is not that the media hates us; it's not as simple as that. Not only are we dealing with people that choose not to understand us, but they go out of their way to mischaracterize the video game industry every step of the way. Some of it they do knowingly, but most of the time it comes down to the simple generational gap that has fueled many fires over many centuries.
The problem comes down to the fact that your local news just doesn't know how to cover video game-related events. No matter what the story
What has Wolf Blitzer done for us lately?
is, when the mainstream media gets a hold of it always ends up having something to do with children. That is the subtext that runs through all of the mainstream media's coverage of video games; the idea is that it's children who play these games and not adults. Our problem isn't that these people hate us; it's that they genuinely believe that this industry is still kid's play.
You don't have to search for too long to see this theme put to use. Think back
If you can't figure out that Grand Theft Auto isn't intended for children than how can we trust you to tell us the truth about the stuff that really matters?
to the controversy surrounding Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, all of the critics of Rockstar's epic got on their soapboxes and condemned the developers for exposing the youth to sex (and to a lesser extent, violence). The only problem is that San Andreas was never meant to be played by children. It was never marketed in children's magazines; there weren't adverts for it on mid-day TV or on Nickelodeon. The game came with a firm "M" rating that covered blood, gore, violence, language, drug use, and yes, even "strong sexual content." It's called Grand Theft Auto for crying out loud, the game was clearly not intended for children.
Yet these facts seemed to pass right by Hillary Clinton, Brit Hume, and Wolf Blitzer. The media tore Rockstar Games apart for featuring fully clothed sex hidden in the game, because the children who weren't supposed to be playing the game in the first place might witness some action. And it's
It seems crazy now, but there once was a time when Mad Magazine was considered pornographic by the mainstream media!
not just the sex of Grand Theft Auto or the violence of Manhunt, no matter what video game story the media is telling they always come at it from the standpoint that it's young kids playing the games.
This generational gap has reared its ugly head before, and it's no surprise that art triumphs over ignorance. When hip hop and rap ruled the street the media rallied against it with the same avidity they use these days to cover terrorism. And during the height of the Vietnam War the media's bull's eye was on rock 'n roll. And let's not forget that many still consider Mad Magazine to be over the line of decency. The list goes on and on, the only constant is that what is acceptable is always changes. Let's not forget that many of these newscasters who misrepresent the video game public are the same people who grew up in a time when playing Cowboys and Indians wasn't considered racist.
The real crime here is that the people that purport to be journalists aren't doing their job when talking about video games. How difficult would it be to look up game buying habits? Certainly there must be studies out there that offer
If Deborah Norville can't take the time out of her busy life to look up the facts about video game players then maybe we're all doomed!
some insight into who is buying what and how old they are. If only there was a way for these trained journalists to find this information so that they didn't look like idiots to a large portion of the game playing public. Oh wait ... there is a way of finding out who buys what, there are studies performed all the time.
Study after study shows that most video games aren't bought by young kids (or even the tweeners), instead we see that it's people in their twenties that buy (and play) the most games. The largest segment of gamers are those twenty-somethings that grew up playing games when it really was child's play. But like the fans, the video game industry has grown and matured, and these days you have games meant for adults, children, and everybody in between. Yet it would seem as though the media is stuck back in the days of Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., and Asteroids.
But don't let this stuff get down; these are just the growing pains that all forms of entertainment have to go through. When it comes right down to it the older generation never understands what the youth is up to, before long people have molded an opinion that they will stick with until they die. When movies were first invented fans of the
Adorable as she may be, this young girl does not represent all video game players!
stage were up in arms trying to protest what they considered to be an inferior format. When the television was introduced into the living room fans of movies hated the idea. Lawrence Welk fans hated the Beatles, Beatles fans hated Ice T, Roger Ebert hates video games, and fans of book hate everybody. It's just a vicious cycle.
To prove this theory we turn to a surprising source, The Simpsons. This long-running Fox cartoon had a hard time booking Hollywood talent to make cameos in their first few seasons. Matt Groening laments in nearly every DVD box set that actors of a certain age simply refuse to perform on The Simpsons, they act as if it's just a children's show and it's below them. Even after 17 seasons there are still people who think that they are above some animated TV show, despite the fact that it is one of the longest running television shows of all time (not to mention the longest running animated show ever). Matt believes that once somebody has made up their mind about you there's almost nothing you can do to reverse their opinion. And that, unfortunately, is exactly what we're dealing with in the video game industry.
Oh yeah, that's just what this article needs ... Simpsons nudity!!
As long as the media believes that the only gamers out there are 13 year old kids we are never going to get a fair shake. No matter what the topic is, if everything is reported in this dishonest (and downright lazy) manner then video games will always be the problem.
It's easy to see this bias when the media reports on video game violence or sex, but it's even apparent when they are talking about the benefits of playing games. Recently my local news reported on a study that showed that doctors who game end up being better all around surgeons. Instead of simply reporting this news the newscaster said, "Well Frank, I'm sure all of the young boys out there will be happy to know that all that practice is going towards something good."
When the Xbox 360 launched last November it got a lot of play on the 24 hour cable news networks (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc.). For the most part the reporters were nice to Microsoft, but just about every one of them made some comment about how you should get the "kids" away from the television or that it might be something to get your "young teens." One person on CNN went as far as to ask how "children" were going to be able to afford a $400 system with $60 games. The media just doesn't get it.