You’ve doubtless heard of the gamer stereotype. Mom’s basement, no friends, glued to a computer… But is there validity in this stereotype? Can gaming really ruin your social life?
The truth is, gaming ruins your social life no more than any other hobby. It’s all about personal choice. You can choose to stay in your room and play games all day, or you can play with friends either online, at a LAN center/arcade or at someone’s house. The only deciding factor is your the interest of your friends.
It’s true that a lot of gamers do lack social skills and may not go outside as much as other people, but this is definitely not due to gaming. It’s a personality thing. People who are shy, don’t enjoy the company of others and feel comfortable at home will often look to gaming as a way to spend their time. It gives them an excuse to be shy. Like I said before, if it wasn’t gaming it would be something else.
In my personal experience, gaming has been the thing that actually got me a social life. It’s a conversation piece, a common interest and an activity that you can do with others. Tomorrow I’m going over to a buddy’s house to drink and play Street Fighter IV. Who with? A bunch of fellow gamers. People I talk to every day, play with every day and get along with.
It’s true that a lot of gamers argue with one another over the internet – usually for stupid reasons. But that’s not all of us. As we get more and more shunned by society, gamers develop a bond with one another. In this way it’s actually adding to a person’s social life more than it takes away from it. Instead of sharing our hobby with others we keep it quiet.
So where does this unsociable, sad stereotype come from? Do people who play video games bring it upon themselves?
Certainly not. The reason a lot of people play video games on their own, in a secluded environment, away from the rest of society is simple. Most gamers are ashamed of being a gamer. This is because of the label and stereotype society puts on us. Think about it. When do you ever hear about video games on the news? “Boy kills mother over video game”, “Video game banned in 10 countries”, “Video games cause of young crime”, blah blah blah…
Let’s take an example. In 1999, two Colorado high school kids open fired in their school, killing 13 people. Lawsuits were filed, and the media began finding about the kids who committed the murder. Guess what they focused on? Surprise, surprise: these kids plays video games. Which was OBVIOUSLY the cause for their murder. OBVIOUSLY it wasn’t because they were mentally ill or had an abusive childhood. That’s way too boring for the news right?
“Oh look! Someone has committed a mass murder or horrible crime! And he’s a gamer! Obviously video games are to blame! Let us shun all gamers from the rest of society and write news articles about how bad they are!”
Yet people wonder why gamers like to stay inside all day. If you tell someone – such as a work colleague or acquaintance – you play Snooker or Pool, their reaction will generally be “Cool, we should play sometime”. If you tell them you’re a gamer there will probably be a “Cool” then an awkward silence. Why? Because all this person knows about video games is the stuff they put on the news. They’re silently judging you because of a hobby. The consequence of this is that the gamer becomes ashamed, and gaming becomes something they can only do or talk about in private. This is not how it should be. Yet another unseen prejudice of modern society that people ignore.
And that, ladies and gentlemen is where the stereotype comes from. If you think that you don’t know any gamers you’re probably wrong. They’re just ashamed to tell you. Every day people…managers, teachers, doctors – a lot of them play video games. I know gamers with kids, gamers who are writers, gamers who are doctors, gamers who are business owners, gamers who are charity workers, even gamers who are war veterans. Next time you take a bash at gamers, don’t think of the stereotype. Think of your average guy on the street.
We’re not all living in our parent’s basement and some of us actually see the sunlight every now and then. Gaming does not ruin your social life, greedy journalists ruin gaming.