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blog. what a funny word. c'mon, just say it. blog. bloooooooooooog. blllllllllllllllllog. blog blog blog blog blog. b l o g .
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As you may have noticed, articles, editorials and news features having to do with various social issues surrounding gaming (or with a gamers' slant) have been making an upswing here on GS. These issue range from violence in gaming to mental illness and so much in between. As gaming becomes more of a mainstream form of entertainment, the gaming community is growing, as is our social awareness of such issues. And, with the increase in the gaming population, there is bound to come an increase in pieces reflecting on social issues and their perceived relevance to members of this community.
Some pieces have been met with good debate within the community; others have been scorned and readers have threatened to leave GS for posting what they consider information that is not newsworthy. Still, some have even been praised for bringing awareness to issues that may be embarrassing for gamers to bring up on their own and opening a dialogue for change, or at the least, a better understanding of the highlighted issue.
The first topic that has really exploded across this site is feminism and gaming. It is also arguably the most hated, but is definitely one of the most polarizing. Don't worry, I'm not going to go on a rant about my actual opinion as I've done so on the numerous features on the site. Some of the more notable and commented-on pieces are as follows:
Dead Island sparks sexism flap (September 8, 2011 - 531 comments)
From Samus to Lara: An Interview With Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency (June 12, 2012 - 3724 comments)
Halo 4 devs speak out against sexism (October 30, 2012 - 700 comments)
Naughty Dog: games don't need males on cover to sell (December 12, 2012 - 454 comments)
Publishers said 'You can't have a female character,' says Remember Me dev (March 19, 2013 - 1131 comments)
Documentary on sexism in games hits Kickstarter (April 29, 2013 - 1366 comments)
A significant portion of the comments in these articles are decrying the fact that these pieces are even being published, that the issue of sexism in gaming either does not exist or that even if it does, there is no place on GS for this kind of piece. From my observation, the response to these articles was overwhelmingly negative.
Next on the list is the debate about how the violoence portrayed in video games may (or may not) affect people who play such games. Various studies have been conducted and opinions run the full gamut, some saying they affect us and may desensitize us to others saying it can help us manage pain and improve other aspects of our lives:
GS News - Violent Video Games can Ease Pain (September 11, 2012 - 134 comments)
Senator introduces bill to study violent games (December 20, 2012 - 1183 comments)
N.J. Gov: violent games must be examined (January 9, 2013 - 1447 comments)
Obama calls for game violence research (January 16, 2013 - 1298 comments)
Former FBI profiler says games do not cause violence (February 25, 2013 - 261 comments)
Study: Violent games can desensitize players (May 10, 2013 - 806 comments and counting)
This series of pieces seems to draw more of a debate than a simple "GTFO of GS". There doesn't seem to be as much of an internal argument between users as there are just differences of opinion which are handled in a more respectful manner than the issue of sexism and gaming.
Lastly, GS has gone even deeper into gamers' psyches by promoting a feature on gaming and depression and mental illness in regards to the gaming community:
Survey examines links between gaming, behavior (November 15, 2010 - 170 comments)
Study links pathological gaming to depression, anxiety in kids (January 17, 2011 - 606 comments)
Light in the Darkness: Dealing With Depression in Games (February 8, 2013 - 71 comments)
Depression Quest: A Retrospective (February 19, 2013 - 25 comments)
Video Games vs. Depression (May 3, 2013 - 1888 comments)
The last link, a relatively short documentary which was featured on the front page, has garnered a LOT of support. Comments on pieces in this group tend to be more positive and supportive in nature.
It seems to me that the most negative feedback comes from pieces where users feel judged or stereotyped themselves, which is no surprise: nobody likes to feel like they are being judged in a negative light. But pieces that analyze parts of the community and offer insight without judgement, such as the depression pieces, are welcomed overall, mostly because they are more helpful and not telling the user they need to change, or that the industry they hold so dear needs to change. Personally, I, too, enjoy these kinds of social awareness issues the best because I feel they can impact the most users in the most positive way.
I actually enjoy watching GS grow up and report on social issues. I feel that there is more than enough content on the site to the point that if you absolutely hate mixing social issues with gaming, you can find plenty to read and keep you busy without having to bother with content you really don't like. It also baffles me why so many people comment with such vitriol when GS does tackle these issues. I understand the voicing of the opinion that GS should not have these kinds of pieces on the front page, but what I mostly see are people trolling such pieces and massively increasing post counts on pieces they think shouldn't exist anyway, which is sort of defeating the purpose--but that's beside the point.
So, how do YOU feel about how all of these social issues are being represented here on GS? If you love it, what other ideas would you like to see tackled or acknowledged? If you would rather leave it behind, what would you like to see instead, and do you feel the presence of these issues truly undermines your ability to enjoy the rest of the content on the site?
FPS Doug: Poster Child of Our Gaming Community!
Boom, headshot... BOOM headshot.... BOOM!!! HEADSHOT!!! From the recent publicity attempting to link violent acts in the world to video games, FPS Doug (WARNING: link contains strong language) may as well be the poster child for gamers worldwide in the eyes of the media*.
Whether you believe the hype or not, playing video games have also been linked to some very positive effects. Several studies have shown that video games can ease pain in patients, and that violent video games may increase pain tolerance in some people. My mother, who is in chronic pain due to various conditions, has personally found that Farmville helps her relax and improves her pain management.
Then there are all of the conflicting reports from the media at large, showing that 89 percent of parents believe game violence a problem but that a former FBI profiler says games do not cause violence. So, what to believe?
Enter Cody Thompson: Walking Gamer
Whichever side you're on, there's one gamer who is breaking this stereotype. Enter the Walking Gamer. Cody Thompson is on a mission for both himself and for charity. He is going to walk across the country, from North Carolina to California, on a journey that is to start this weekend and will take an estimated 8 months to complete. During his travels, he will be dependent on the kindness of strangers for lawn space on which to pitch his tent, donations for food and supplies during his travel and support during the difficult months he faces away from his home and his wife.
So, who is this Cody Thompson? In the spirit of full disclosure, he is the husband of one of my sister's dearest friends, and that's how I first heard of his journey. He is an avid gamer and has been since the age of 4, is a former EMS dispatcher and has a bone to pick with DLC--I won't repeat here what he had to say about the horse armor DLC for Oblivion--and he was kind enough to allow me to interview him personally for this blog. (I found out the hard way that he also hates being called "Mr. Thompson", which I did when I first requested the interview and subsequently made him twitch something awful...)
See, when Cody was 4 years old, he had a serious eye disease which required surgery. As a part of his recovery regimen, his doctor actually prescribed video games. With that, his parents got him an Atari. It's no surprise that the charity he is bringing along for his walk is Child's Play, an organization that provides various toys, books and video games to hospitalized children to try to make their stay less arduous and improve their spirits and recoveries.
He still remembers his first games, Pitfall! and River Raid. He remembers the Christmas his mom scraped together enough to get him the NES with Super Mario 2. In true gamer form, Cody will be bringing his 3DS along for the walk, with an assortment of games (if you donate enough to his Indiegogo campaign, he will even send you one of his used games from his walk!). Cody sequestered his 3DS for the last few months so that the games would be fresh and new for his journey, so he has spent his gaming time lately playing a lot of his console and PC games in the meantime (DMC, Starcraft 2 and others).
Cody's Trusty Walking Companion Will Be His 3DS
The idea to walk across the country originally came from his love of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" which introduced him to a world of adventure and self discovery he wanted to impart into his own life. He says it is only natural to bring a charity along for the ride, especially since Child's Play is so close to his own heart.
Bilbo vs. Frodo: Tough Choice!
For those of you wondering where he stands on the issue of Frodo vs. Bilbo, when asked the proverbial question, "Frodo or Bilbo?" Cody replied, "My answer is............. [darn], that is not a fair question really...the Hobbit is such a different tone than LOTR. Bilbo is having this adventure. He is outside his comfort zone, and I suppose I relate to that more for this walk. Frodo knows he is carrying the source of all evil around his neck, and well.... that [messes] a dude up." So now you know. (Thanks to GunnyHath for suggesting that question!)
While not the focus of his journey, Cody is well aware of how the gaming industry and community is being perceived, and he has his own ideas about games, violence and the roles of parents in all of this. When asked about his thoughts on the connection between violent acts and video games, he responded, "...the issue with games and probably movies is parents think it is just a game, so they get it, no biggie. Let's hand Darksiders over to a 12 year old and not pay attention."
He also recalls how his mom handled video game violence with him as a kid: "I grew up playing violent games. My mom got me Mortal Kombat 2 for the SNES but she watched me play it and she made the call if she thought it was appropriate for me to play." He does not believe in government censorship, and instead puts duties on the parents to make the call. To all who believe that violence in games has a widespread effect on gamers, he replies, "We are going to see a HUGE boom in America's farming community any day now. Farmville was THAT popular." I guess my mom is going to become a farmer. She already has a huge garden at home.... hmmm... I see truth in this sentiment already...
With all of the negative publicity the gaming community faces, it's nice to see something so positive coming from one of our own. So the next time somebody scared of the world and looking for a neat and tidy way to explain the violence in the world blames you, the gamer, just tell them to walk it off.
Well done, Mr. Thomps--er, Cody. Safe travels on your longest journey.
Walk on, gaming brother. Walk on.
Interested in donating to Cody's cause? Donations in his honor can be made to Child's Play by clicking here. Donations will first cover his expenses for the walk, and all unused proceeds will then go directly to Child's Play.
You may also donate directly to him to cover his expenses, which he estimates will be $8,000 by the end of his trip, at his Indiegogo site.
Cody will be updating his Walking Gamer site with blogs during his travels, but you may also connect with him via other social media sites below:
*It should be known that I think FPS Doug is about the most hilarious YouTube video ever, I'm not knocking him in any way, shape or form
Ahh, 32. You were an interesting year. Love and self lost and found, games played, new states traveled.
New drinks drank, too
I guess you can say this is my year in review.
32 was a year of great anguish personally, but also of great growth and garnered strength. Over the last year I got to watch me stand up for myself both personally and professionally. I really "grew a pair" in all aspects of my life, which was refreshing to realize. When I look back, I really see this as the year things changed in a big way.
And not just personally, but gaming as well. I had devoted so much energy to things that were not productive before that I didn't really have enough emotional energy to game (I hate losing so often if I'm stressed, I just won't bother trying something new until I have some energy).
I realized how much my life correlates with gaming. Heck, I've been gaming since I was 7, which now would be 26 years ago. Gaming has been a big part of my life and is a lot like my dining room table or fingernails: you can take one look at how it's organized, finished, polished or straightened and know instantly my personal state of affairs.
My road to gaming recovery began with Terraria and really took off with Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Both were recommended to me by my Steam friends and did not disappoint. In days where I could barely function, I would sit my gaming laptop in the livingroom and dig dig dig until I found peace. Then came DE:HR, and I found myself truly enjoying gaming again. I hadn't really ever gotten into stealth because it tenses me up, but this game is a true masterpiece and hooked me on the presentation, story and especially the fun and addictive gameplay. It got me through the worst part of my personal issues and helped me find what I had been missing for the last 4 years or so.
I got to take my gaming around the west, from Portland to Reno to Modesto to Salt Lake City. It kept me company and gave me new friends (thanks to you who stuck with me over my "issues" and gamed with me and gave me something to smile about). I got a little of my competitive edge back, which feels nice. I used to be the person to contend with on Perfect Dark for the N64. I wasn't tournament-worthy, I was the one that friends would find other friends to pit against while we had an event and they all watched. Good times But for years, I hadn't been able to compete because losing made ME feel like a loser, and a lot of the fun and thrill was lost due to stress and anxiety in other areas in my life.
One game I've been slowly getting into is Battlefield 3. I get to play with a great friend from here and he's coaching me and it's a blast. I've never really played a more realistic shooter, and definitely not online, so it has been a rather harsh learning curve. I've only played 2 separate 90-minute sessions, but was pleased to end 5th out of 22, albeit on the losing team but I'll take the victory!
Otherwise, other notable games of this year included Battlefield: Bad Company 2 single-player campaign which was fun start to finish; Minecraft, which I have a blast on my friend's server, he's always doing nice things for me there (and in real life, thanks, you know who you are!) and is a total fun person to hang with; The Longest Journey, which I will finish someday, even though it is a bit long but hey no false advertising there; Borderlands and Borderlands 2, I haven't had that much fun with co-op in a while and got to know people through both games and shared much, much laughter.
I also started getting back into a bit of console gaming with Halo 4, which has been super fun to play with my buddy 2 blocks down, the one who came over and shared some of that Apple Pie (pictured above) and played with me yesterday, my last day at 32. Alcohol be damned, I have been getting a lot better at it and am starting to have more fun.
I hope your gaming year has treated you well. Here's to a fresh start with 33!
My Recent Reviews
Some people just don't have opinions. Like zyxe.
May 13, 2013 12:13 am GMTzyxe posted a new blog entry entitled Social Awareness and GameSpot: Love it or Leave it?
Mar 13, 2013 3:26 pm GMTzyxe posted in the topic Looking for critique? Help us help you! on the union board Welcome to the Round Table
Mar 4, 2013 4:20 pm GMTzyxe posted a new blog entry entitled Gamers are More than the Sum of Their Killcounts (Walk it Off/Charity Edition)