Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Sex, Violence, and the Wii

Shamus Young | 20 Nov 2009 21:00
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These controversies really sting for those of us that have been gaming for decades. We've been longing to see our hobby stand beside the other forms of entertainment media, and when the press finally turns its eye our way it does so in a negative, sensationalist, and hypocritical way, while frequently getting many details wrong.

Most gamers realize that the main problem is that there just aren't enough of us. The baby boomers - the generation that makes up a majority of our media moguls and politicians - don't game very much. They have no idea what the hobby is all about and the only time they hear about it is in the context of negative news. A young boy does something violent, people find out he was a gamer (since, duh, most kids that age play some games) and the game forms a handy scapegoat for everyone involved. Yeah. We gamers know this already. We've watched the process feed on itself over the years, dragging gaming to the forefront in the most negative way possible.

Now, the cynical answer we get from young people (and from me, when I'm grouchy) is that there's nothing to be done about this. We just have to wait for those people to retire or die. But the alternative is for them to turn into gamers themselves.

Which is where the Wii comes in. The other two consoles are closed off to non-gamers. Even if a sixty year old politician suddenly got it into his head that he wanted to play with some of these newfangled videogame contraptions, what's he going to do? Buy a PS3 and Killzone 2? If you've ever seen an adult try to learn how to play a modern action games then you have witnessed the true meaning of fail. Even "easy" mode is going to be well past the frustration threshold of someone learning to wiggle a thumbstick for the first time.

But the Wii is turning people into gamers in record numbers. Sure, they're not going to be jumping online for a round of Modern Warfare 2 anytime soon, but they will know what it means to sit on the couch and be amused by a chunk of consumer electronics. They will probably begin to grasp that Grand Theft Auto won't turn you into a car thief in the same way that Wii Sports doesn't turn you into a baseball player. The veil of mystery will be pulled away, and they will "get" videogames on some level. People who go to see heartwarming dramas or romantic comedies at the theater aren't calling for "something" to be done about violent movies, and I'm sure it's partly because seeing movies isn't this unknown, exotic activity to them.

Don't think of them as "casual gamers". Think of them as "people who are no longer going to blame and ban videogames."

Shamus Young is the guy behind this website, these three webcomics, and this program. His parents bought their first console this year, and... it was a Wii.

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