Gaming And Society

For a long time now, at least as it pertains to mainstream media, video games are often treated as the scourge of modern society. Over the years I have been witness to some of the most ludicrous stories concocted by a journalistic mind, and the phrase journalistic mind is something I use rather generously. The worst one I have probably come across is taken from a newspaper a few years ago, who claimed at one point that Activision Blizzard’s game Call of Duty was being used to train terrorist groups…

The game however that has been maligned more than most once again belongs to Activision Blizzard, this game has had countless articles, reports and documentaries on just how it destroys lives, World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft is a mmorpg (massively multiplayer online roleplaying game) set in a fictional setting with two factions, which at its peak had over 12 million active suscribers and players. Mmorpgs often have a suscriber based model where people pay a monthly fee along with purchasing the game upon release, along with expansion packs, and sometimes depending on the success, or lack thereof, a free to play (f2p) model with a lot of micro-transactions for quests to gain experience or cosmetic items as options.

Over the years I have seen all sorts of frankly ludicrous accusations thrown at WoW (World of Warcraft), from being a game where people die from (an incident that has happened twice, both in the far east, and both more to do with the addictive nature and gaming habits in the far east, than in the game itself), get addicted to, destroys lives and so forth.

The truth is that addictions exist beyond gaming in general. Recently there seems to be a thought process upon the older generations that gaming in itself is the bane of all youth culture, which when you consider that modern youth culture suggests that drinking yourself stupid, smoking cannabis and experimenting with legal highs is the way to go, I would think that gaming comes far more respectable than either of those aforementioned pastimes.

For some reason that I personally fail to understand, most people would prefer their progeny to not engage in gaming at all. The usual accusation is that gaming seems to promote violence, sexuality and general debauchery, which is quite funny when you consider, that movies and television in general have promoted far more of that than gaming ever has. Ironically, most music videos today have more nudity, profanity, sexuality and violence than games have ever had.

All games come with an age rating, and they are there for a reason, it befuddles me that some parents would not allow their child to purchase a 18 and over DVD at age ten, but would have no issue with purchasing them an 18 and over video game, and then complaining about the content therein. Much like movies, video games that are 18 and over, are intended for adults and not for children below the age of 18…

As an avid gamer since the age of four, the nonsense that gaming is detrimental to the development of a child intellectually, emotionally and mentally is something that irks me greatly.  Gaming like everything else, is perfectly fine in moderation. I cannot highlight enough the amount of times I have had someone come to me and mock the fact that I purchased a video game, to only see them spend ten times the amount on items that they will never use more than once, just out of sheer impulse.

I won’t deny that for some people gaming can become an addiction, but then again, there are people addicted to alcohol, gambling, drugs, television and so forth. The truth is that the people that fall into a gaming addiction are susceptible to addictions within themselves. Like it or not, some people have addictive personalities, and if they were not addicted to gaming, they would be addicted to something else entirely.

For years I have heard gaming, and indeed, World of Warcraft, being maligned as if it were the cause of all the ills that currently plague society. The truth is that World of Warcraft, and gaming in general, much like football, television, gambling, drinking and so forth is a perfectly acceptable and enjoyable way to pass the hours, as long as it is done in moderation.

My only hope is that people open their eyes and do not allow the media to cloud their perception of gaming, after all, it is a harmless pastime. When you consider that schools have been using games to educate children for decades, something that still happens in nurseries today, why is there so much shock that with technological advances, that games would advance into a video game format?

There are many benefits to gaming from an educational aspect, and from a social aspect. What many people do not take into account, is that some games, like World of Warcraft, and others require social communication and co-ordination, which can lead to some solid friendships being made. Personally I have made a number of close friends through gaming, that are far closer to me, than a number of those that I have made in school or social outings during my youth.

Gaming must be approached from a neutral outlook, the media often has a rather biased opinion on gaming and seems to paint it as a bleak outcome of modern society. Truth is like I have stated repeatedly in this blog post, there is nothing wrong with gaming as long as it is in moderation, just like there is nothing wrong with having a beer at the pub if its in moderation.

My hope is, that people will be able to make their opinions on gaming objectively and with some common sense, and then perhaps, the demonisation of gaming and games such as World of Warcraft will cease altogether, and one of the largest entertainment industries of our time, will avoid vilification, and be treated with the same brush and respectability that movies, television shows and other forms of entertainment are treated with.

Until next time

The Raaven

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