Gamer Divide

by Goldie on June 6, 2010

in Games,Society and Culture

On more than a few sites I’ve been seeing posts where the focus of discussion is the “gamer stigma”.  This is the perception that playing of games is some how a sign of wasting time with something meaningless, or a stigma of gamers in the workplace, or a game could be the “cause” of a relationship break down.  All these focus on the “defect” of gamers.   On the other hand I’ve been seeing quite a few posts about the positive effects of gaming such as improved brain function, benefits for the autistic, and helping seniors get more fit.  All this focus and increased discussion makes me think that we are nearing a transition point in the perception of games, not too unlike the transition point with the internet not that many years ago.

I remember when I was busy on the internet, back before it was something everyone used, before google was a verb. For most, the internet was seen as this time suck.  A waste of time at best, a source of addiction at the worst.  My parents found it interesting that I used the internet but really could see no use for it themselves.  Eventually my uncle got my retired grandfather on it and he took to it like a fish to water.  He communicated with people with like interests, looked up genealogy and was happy to use it.  Not too long after my parents started using it and now they keep busy on it much of the time.   Although there are still some who don’t use the internet, societal perception sees using the Internet as normal.  Yes all the bad uses and behaviors that could be associated with the Internet still exist, but those are people related issues, not tool related issues – and they are recognized as such.

Gaming isn’t there yet.  There is, in some ways, a generational divide.  But the above studies show that the perception of what gaming is and who games is changing.  It may well be the retired that get gaming first.  (My dad got a Wii as a retirement gift and he’ll have Epic Mickey once it ships.) But even the casual gaming of Facebook is spreading through the “non-gamer” crowd.  More and more games are being introduced as not just “things kids do when they should be outside” but valid recreation or even tools to use that can change the world. Gaming is something we’ve done throughout the history of civilization – even as adults.  Somehow with the industrial revolution gaming dropped to “child’s play”, perhaps in pursuit of the more uniform worker.  However that is changing, and it will be interesting seeing how that will affect the tools we use and the way we work together.

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