Gamers Have Found Moderation
Perhaps it's age. Perhaps it's maturity. Perhaps it's due to the wider mainstream appeal and the influx of casual gamers. But whatever the reason, I believe gamers have really located equilibrium in regards to their favorite hobby; it's this moderation that wields the heaviest part of the sledgehammer as it smashes down the wall of stereotypes.
Those who recall the '80s and '90s should remember the #1 assumption: it wasn't so much that gamers were geeks, but more so that all were "addicted" to video games. The term "addiction" is one that veteran gamers have battled all their lives, and for the time being, let me say that it's easy to assign such a label to certain people. For instance, if the socially awkward kid didn't attend any of the various social gatherings at school, he was "in solitary" most of the time. And when games are the most fun you can have by yourself, you tend to spend a great deal of time participating in your favorite hobby (perhaps by default, but nevertheless). Therefore, "addiction" is often the first word the uninitiated would associate with gamers: if you said you loved games, the vast majority of the mass populace immediately believed you were "addicted." This, of course, was very rarely the case.
If you're not familiar, look up the definition of "addiction" in the a scientific journal or the diagnostic manual for Psychology. If you read that definition, you will soon understand just how ludicrous it sounds to be considered "addicted" to video games. Do you see the qualifications you would have to meet? 99% of the time, it's laughable. But, all this being said, I will freely admit that avid gamers did spend an awful lot of time in front of the TV, and as I've gotten older, I've noticed it less and less. It has finally gotten to the point where if someone says they play games, most don't think they partake of the hobby any more often then someone who likes to go to the theater and watch movies. Moderation is the key. Gamers go out and do other things these days; the majority simply list interactive entertainment as one of their favorite pastimes. Nothing more. As for me, I make a living writing about them, but even saying this isn't enough to elicit the "addictive" response.
Ten or fifteen years ago? Pfft. People would've tried to commit me. They would've actually been frightened. Furthermore, I was not only an addict, but I was mere seconds away from taking out a chainsaw. Seriously, the mainstream populace just didn't get gaming, and when the mainstream media exclusively ran negative stories, you couldn't really blame the masses. It was, however, maddeningly infuriating. These days, because it has become quite obvious that "addiction" is almost never accurate and the uneducated can't pin the world's woes upon video games, everything is so much easier. It's a testament to gamers the world over who have stepped outside, participated in other activities and in general, acted like adults. Moderation...is...good. And we still get to do what we love to do. ;)
6/26/2009 Ben Dutka