Clearly, I am an idiot - 38 out of 40 people had something negative to say.
"I am a 180 degrees [in the opposite direction] of the videogames culture. Can't stand it. I will do everything in my power not to introduce my kids to that culture mainly because I am against any apparatus that suppresses individuality in kids. I also have the perception that it creates an addiction, and it takes them away from reality and the world that surrounds them contributing to obesity, laziness, and lack of imagination. Kids need to be exposed to more important things in life. They can have the rest of their grown up lives to do that if they want to, but I will do everything to make sure that their time under my roof is spent focused on better causes."
And on the lighter end:
"I'm not too pleased with some of the content of videogames either... sex, violence, over-the-edge action. That can't be healthy for anyone. I liked videogames when they seemed simple and not so all-consuming... Frogger, Pac-Man, now they were some righteous characters that never picked up a prostitute or blew a cop's head off."
Of the two respondents that liked games, one was my brother.
Oddly, no one cites the media in his initial response, and when I ask again how their opinions were shaped, only a few do. Even then, it's in a very general way. There is, however, an undercurrent of resentment for the time videogames take away from what many hope would be a shared experience.
One friend complained about GTA, admitted she'd never played the game and then offered this: "If you really are interested in deep psychoanalysis... the truth of my disdain for games is from a negative relationship - ]a former boyfriend] would play for hours, upon hours, upon hours. Maybe I felt neglected, ignored and disrespected."
Girlfriends, mothers and wives echoed this woman's comments: "Many times as I called my son, I could hear the background noise of the game, which would mean very little concentration on our conversation, as most was directed to the game that could not be interrupted it seems. [He gave] short, evasive answers." When her son came home for a visit, he would bring his console with him and not socialize with the family, or worse, ask them to watch him play.
So, games take the fall for the son's rudeness. "All games can be paused," I told her, "and if it's a live match, he can drop out and join another later."
At my house, we have an efficient means of dealing with such issues. You get a two-minute warning to save your game, and then it gets shut off. There is no negotiation. I pay the electric bill. You're done.
There is also a strange undercurrent: concerns about addiction and worries that games will make otherwise happy kids bloodthirsty killers. One mother of a 30-year-old son believes "there is an army out there of players, connected by the net, even an international one, and it has [led] to some relationships based on a shared interest." While this is true enough, I don't believe the WoW guilds or FPS teams are going to lead to what she fears: "a very mal-adjusted society." Nor do I believe that we will see videogame "addiction" lead thousands of people into rehab or to the streets to sell their bodies to support their habit. I've volunteered with addicts and alcoholics for over 10 years. The most strung-out gamer doesn't hold a candle to a heroin addict coming off junk or an alcoholic thrashing away spiders in the throes of DTs.