Jan 23 2011

The Psychology of Game-players: Then and Now

Time for some Brain Food....and for the rest of you, have a Granola Bar, I got something down the line. Possibly about food. Possibly about things that see you as food. Stay tuned.

How many times in these last couple years have the games changed? How have they changed the gamer itself? Well, take a look at the games generally portrayed nowadays in media and the top sellers of 2010. The second and third games all dealt in first-person shooters focused on war and more ‘realistic’ worlds for game-play. A major proponent for a game-addict back in the day were arcades and the arcade cabinets in fast food restaurants, gas stations, and laundromats. They now are very rare or privately owned only, as the arcade cabinets themselves became collectors items’ or very special artistic works for eccentric art fans who are also game fans. Games have become far more ‘extreme’ in their content and their players through bigger weapons and more detailed but less-colourful graphics and the advent of multiplayer attitudes and player interaction…and lack thereof.

This is very well shown in the fictitious character known as the Game Antithinker. Written as the alternate persona of the Game Overthinker from another universe, this brash and hurtful person is shown as the overblown extreme of rambunctious and rough videogame players nowadays who do not understand the history of their newly-found medium of entertainment. The character itself is portrayed humorously, like if I was to have a alternate version of me who writes simpler works with harmful connotations and with little to no explanation for those actions, as well as someone who loves sports games, but that is neither here or there.

So, what happened is that games and their genres have evolved to incorporate larger audiences of players-which should be considered a good thing for any form of visual media. Movies and Television are always attempting to appeal to multiple demographics at once, and video-games have done this within a couple years at most; an astonishing achievement. Why this is considered a bad thing stems from the cultural identity that gamers from the beginning have associated with their love. That games are ‘their’ escape from reality and no one else’s. The removal of arcades removed their ability to socialize outside the home, and the addition of other demographics like casual gamers and ‘jocky, extreme gamers’ as the Overthinker refers to them are starting to ruin gaming.

Alright…Now let me set up an analogy here to explain how I think about this. Let’s assume there’s this awesome new sport where you throw a Frisbee into one of three taped circles in a play area from about twenty-five feet away. After it lands into one of those three holes, labeled with a number from 10-30 respectively, you have to hoof it and grab that many beanbags strewn in a obstacle course behind you and throw them at another player within a five-minute time limit. The sport is fast-paced, interesting and violent alongside a little innovation; many different people could appeal to this game. Of course there will be distaste and rivalry, but the person who enjoyed the game first will likely gripe and those who joined later will gripe about their fandom over the other, or how the game was better when they came along.

The problem surfaces immediately when we observe both fans at once. Nothing is said that other people can’t enjoy the sport itself; the sport was always considered for multiple demographics. The same is true for the newer fans as well who claim their love supercedes the old; There would be no interest in the game or the appreciation of how it was played without the past.

Videogames also deserve that same respect from both sides. If we are to improve as game players, we must also improve to respect and allow our ignorance to wash us by. These wars over the “proper gamer” is wrong since that definition is wrong. Strides have been made in all fields to enjoy and respect our fellow player without disrespecting his choice of title, genre, or community. Accept that “casual” and “extreme” gamers are a part of our culture, and do not exclude their impact upon this industry. They draw the money which allows games to be respected, and allows “nostalgic” games to be made. On that same note, badmouthing and foul natures upon our community must not be tolerated; anyone who simply curses and trolls on Team Fortress 2 after you win a 2Fort map is not a proper example of a fair and just player. They only serve to perpetuate a standard we do not support and a horrible perspective which is not representative of our culture as a whole. Do not allow that to go on; speak with them. Ignore them and refuse to play if they do not listen. Speak out against such rude and vulgar behavior.

I ask that we put our hatred aside for the sake of a franchise we all enjoy. It is hard, I know. But as a fellow gamer, a journalist, and a man: What is the harm in trying to change what we are?

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