Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Opinions Could Use More Critical, Non-Biased Thinking

I could talk about EA ending their 15 year deal with Tiger Woods, and the next-gen PGA title for PS4 and XboxOne will not bear the golfer’s name. But you’ve already heard about it or at least read it

I’m going to talk about this wonderfully awful gem of an opinion piece, and thank goodness it’s an “opinion” and not a factual article. It made me realize that 1: no matter how far gaming has come, there is still a lot of work to be done to clear up misconceptions, prejudices, and stereotypes, and 2: those with good/appropriate/well-reasoned opinions are rarely seen contributing to news sources and that’s sad. We should fix that second one.

Over the past two years a number of gamers have become high-profile journalists in their own rights. Leigh Alexander, for example, has been working as a gaming critic for years and has become better known with her stance regarding sexism, and has appeared on television news shows and speaking at developer conferences. She’s not a fluke; more writers from Kotaku, Destructoid, Critical Distance are making a path in the community for serious gaming discussions. It becomes depressing to see more and more “opinion” articles in newspaper and online news sources representing the opposite of what gaming has developed into.

If you want to avoid the good laugh in the Emporia Gazetta article this is basically what you need to know: The opinionated is upset that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not include videogame addiction for boys as an epidemic that has stuttered their growth over the last 15 years. Instead “internet addiction disorder” is the closest ties and is listed as “condition for further study.” The it teeters off into how gaming is a “boys” problem (that’s why it’s named a “game boy” not a “game girl”), should not be lumped in with internet issues because there are products called a “play station” and can be accessed on cell phones and handheld units. As such, the trend in video game addiction in boys accounts for nearly 4 million school drop-outs over the past 15 years.

Okay I don’t want to support this “opinionated” individual with additional article hits, but you have to read. It’s hilarious. At the same time, I shake my head that there are people who still think this way. While yes, gaming has always been associated as a male activity, it has never been classified as a single-gender activity. Girls and women have been playing video games since the early days of the arcade. Women make up nearly 50% of thepurchasing and using audience of gamers. And while some can still argue that men and women are wired differently with their brain-waves, anyone with an addictive personality can be swept into gaming. Just as someone can be addicted to gambling, drinking, drugs, you name it. Gaming addicts are not a male issue. They’re a human issue. Part of the issue is assuming that only men become addicts. Women are gamers as well and it is, for lack of a better word, idiotic to think that they cannot be addicted to gaming. The other part of the issue is not providing proper help to both genders to overcome their addition. By assuming it is a “male only” issue and not assisting them, we’re dooming both genders in the long-term to resolving mental health.

This is of course assuming that said “opinionated” person actually focused on the facts. The correlations between the few studies that were half-cited do not elevate his position. The piece still comes off as sexist and full of holes larger than an M. Night Shamallama movie

To tie back to the point I wanted to raise, I’m disappointed that these type of opinion pieces are still making their rounds on the internet and in our local newspapers. I have tried for years, maybe 3-4 by now, to get myself or another gaming critic into the papers to give a less un-biased and accurate view of video games and gamers. We’re constantly turned down for the opinions of the extreme nature (which 99 out of 100 times it is someone who thinks games are bad, are a waste of time, provoke violence, and should be banned). It saddens and disgusts me that opinions today need to be either incredibly Left or Right, one way or the other, in order to be considered. We can’t have someone who provides an equal balance, which goes against all standing on what the news is meant to, and should always represent: unbiased points of view to give a greater world perspective to the whole community.

I wish I could think of a way to try and get more gaming culture into our news that isn’t about violence and sexism. Other than providing weekly opinionated articles in open column sections, we’re at a standstill. Maybe this is a cry for help. Maybe this is a plea to get more writers out there. I don’t know. But I’m tired of seeing “opinions” that are arrogant, unintelligent, and completely disregard glaringly obvious facts in order to go for the extreme views.  

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