The Good Gaming Can Do


In light of all the Gamergate bullshit the last few months, I wanted to take some time to talk about positivity in gaming. I don’t mean sitting around the console with friends of all ages and genders and having an inclusive dialogue about the state of the medium. That’s progress and progress takes more than a family game of brawl and a big koombayah to achieve. No, I’m talking about the positive things I have taken from gaming over the years, or the positive things I have seen come from gaming over the years. Sure, the internet is full of dicks and a lot of those dicks use their thumbs to play games online, creating new and interesting ways to tell the world they fucked your mother last night. We get it. Gaming on its highest levels is more than this though. It helps those of us who really adopt it as our hobby become the people we are as adults, it builds imagination and it’s a damn good way to pass the time on a rainy weekend or after a rough day at work.

I grew up gaming. This isn’t to say I started when I was like 9-10. My first console controller was in my hand around the same time I was mastering the art of walking. My mom, in a bid to get something my dad and I could both do together, bought a SEGA Genesis. This backfired totally, with dad never gaining much interest and me taking to it like a crack addict might take to, well, crack. From a young age though, I was being subjected to some pretty cultured material, even well beyond what I was reading at the time. History, mythology, cultural references- these are all things I took away from gaming at a young age. Even in the rather simple games of the 90s, there were things I could learn and stories I could experience. As I got older, I could appreciate them more. From Alundra on the PS1, I learned perseverance. I also learned puzzles where you throw things kick my ass because I’m not the best with them. Damn that temple full of mummies. From Grand Theft Auto, I learned the value of a hard day’s work, and that crime doesn’t pay. I mean, did you see the hospital bills you rack up in game? Talk about highway robbery. Best to stick with professions where imminent death is not on the list of job hazards. I grew to appreciate narrative and notice plot holes. For me, gaming drove me to read more, thanks to the Infinity Engine games, which in turn drove me to learn more.

Beyond what I took from the medium, there’s so much more good gaming can do. It provides respite to kids suffering from terminal diseases, it’s a refuge from the real world where we can play out a life as someone else entirely, with all the good and bad that comes of it in that world. What people fail to realize in the course of all these debates over identity and who is or isn’t a gamer is that, at the end of the day, we play games because we love games. If someone else gets something different out of it, that’s okay. It’s a big tent, and there’s room for everyone to take what they want from it. The important thing is that we ensure gaming stays a force for good in the world, because it can be. Like it or not, gaming is quickly approaching that thing that Roger Ebert once dreaded- art status. It’s not just a couple pixels on a screen anymore. It’s a way to interface differently with media and ideas, just as film and books before it. Much like those mediums can do a lot to change the world, so can gaming. Projects like “That Dragon, Cancer” and “The Novelist” show that a game can tackle the tough topics and still be a game, but a game that makes you reflect on the world around you. That’s powerful stuff, and it is arguably easier to achieve in game form thanks to the user engagement. Gaming is made for experiential growth, and I think that’s something a lot of people neglect, intentionally and unintentionally.

We all need to come together as a community to push the medium forward. Games will always exist in their zany, fun and engrossing forms, but the potential for them to be so much more than a way to kill an afternoon is there. If we could get to the point where the two sides were working in tandem, you could see some absolutely astonishing things come out of developers that care about making you care. A world where my weekend hobby also has a great impact on the dialogue of cultures would be much preferred to a world where the Jack Thompsons of it cite gun violence and online harassment as a way to discredit a perfectly legitimate medium. Games are maturing and doing better things for the world, and much like what we were all able to learn from them as kids, it’s time we learn one more lesson and mature with them as well.

About Whiskey Ginger

Whiskey Ginger is a scientist by day and comedy writer by night. Other than his passions for the nerdier things in life, he also writes for comedy sites dedicated to fraternity and postgrad humor. His parents just wish he'd write less dick jokes.

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