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How To Kill Video Game Stereotypes

Perhaps the headline is misleading, because as any veteran gamer will tell you, there's no chance that every last stereotype and stigma attached to video game fans will disappear completely. But those of us who indulge in this electronic interactive hobby can do our part, and it starts with those who don't fit any given stereotype commonly accepted by mainstream society.

You're well aware of the list of ignorant and archaic beliefs held by the masses (just say the word "nerd" and everything else is implied), but I know for a fact that millions of gamers out there aren't pale, friendless virgins who hunker down in their bedrooms on Saturday nights to avoid the outside world. Considering the average age of the gamer - depending on the source one uses - is now around 33 years old, it's relatively obvious that old stereotypes can no longer apply. Nobody I know fits the heavily biased labels, and I don't, either. But if this is the case, why do the stereotypes endure? Why is most mainstream media still ten years behind the curve? Why are those unfamiliar with the hobby still so willing to accept all the widespread (and now, wholly inaccurate) beliefs? Why, because it's a vicious circle that actually begins with the gamer, that's why!

The recluse gamers are always reluctant to tell anyone what they love to do, and for obvious reasons. But there are other fans; gamers who, if they stood in a lineup and an average person off the street was asked to pick out the video game fanatic, would escape all notice. And they too are reluctant to convey their passion to the uninitiated. At first, this makes sense - you're risking the " play video games?!" reply - but when you really start to think about it, shouldn't this be a reason to announce your enthusiasm? Look, this is merely common sense. Inside, you're seething. You're saying to yourself, "why do people still think gamers are all the same? Look at me!" Well, if that's what you're thinking, put your hobby out there! Put it on display! Don't be afraid of it; promote it! Your boss won't fire you if he finds out you play video games...hell, he probably plays them himself. And that cute girl at the end of the bar? She's more in-the-know than your parents, so give her the benefit of the doubt.

Therefore, all of you readers out there who would never be considered gamers in a million years by the out-of-the-loop masses, really need to broadcast your passion. I'm not saying you should go out of the way and I'm not recommending that it be your opening topic of conversation with strangers, but don't avoid it entirely. The more people who say, "you play video games?!" the better off we all will be. Period.

1/19/2009 Ben Dutka

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