You're Wrong

You're Wrong
Videogame Myths Debunked

C J Davies | 10 Aug 2010 12:30
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Myth: Game Testing Is An Awesome Job

Ever had to proofread an essay, meticulously checking for spelling errors and inaccuracies? Chances are that job wasn't much fun. Now consider that process when applied to videogames. It's a tester's job to find flaws within games, which means painstakingly plowing through them over and over again until they are unfun and tedious. That incredible opening level of Modern Warfare 7: Explosions And Stuff won't seem as amazing once you've played it eight hours a day for two weeks straight. And while a veteran game tester can earn a decent salary, those on the lower rungs of the ladder can expect a much more humbling wage.

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None of this is to say that game testing is a bad job (sweatshop workers in Indonesia would presumably be very happy to switch places with Activision's new recruits). It just isn't the digital Shangri-La of popular perception.

Myth: Game Design Is An Auteur's Medium

Blame the Molyneuxs. Blame the Wrights. Blame the Bleszinkis. Blame anyone who boldly proclaims a game as their "vision," creating a skewed impression of a lone Terminator-like figure, battling with inhuman power against all odds to lovingly handcraft every line of code.

Just as Hollywood likes to venerate the director (shunting every other important filmmaking role out of the limelight), the videogame public all too often focuses on one benevolent figurehead. While there invariably has to be a Big Boss calling the shots, this can often mean that the collaborative nature of design is shamefully overlooked. Games are not made by one person, but rather a team of dedicated designers and support staff.

Myths: Girls Don't Play Games

Chalk this one up with "games cause violence". Yes, to gaming-savvy readers of The Escapist, it will hardly come as a shock to hear that 40 percent of gamers are women (42 percent in an online capacity), nor to hear that female gamers play 7.4 hours a week (almost equal to the 7.6 hours enjoyed by the boys).

Outside of game-literate circles, however, the notion that gaming is a purely testosterone-filled market is shockingly prevalent. Hence the existence of abysmal newspaper articles lamenting "gaming widows" printed in the UK's Telegraph regarding the 2009 release of Modern Warfare 2.

Myth: Gaming Is Social

This peculiar myth relies heavily on interpretation. It's a standard gamer defense, the classic counterpoint to the accusation that gaming is a solitary pastime or the realm of the perpetually withdrawn. "But," one might cry, "I always play with friends via Xbox Live! That's 'social,' right?"

While online multiplayer ("social" in a very loose sense, by the way) is hugely popular, the single-player experience still remains the cornerstone of gaming. In essence, that is socially isolating because it is an activity that is usually performed alone.

The question is: what's wrong with that? No one complains that reading a book or listening to an album is a lonely experience. Just because gamers sometimes enjoy a solitary activity doesn't necessarily mean that they do not also go outside and embrace life to the fullest. Videogaming might often be a one-man show, but that's the nature of the beast. It is nothing to be ashamed of - and maybe its time people realized that, rather than trying to force a social context onto the medium that, frankly, doesn't exist.

Myth: Games Have No Artistic Merit

Braid. Shadow Of The Colossus. Portal. BioShock. Ocarina Of Time. Five titles that destroy this myth completely. Games are art, just as gravity pulls you to Earth and water quenches your thirst. It's not even debateable.

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