I would love to say that the era of super hero movies and the high popularity of video games have eliminated the stigma and stereotypes of our culture; however, I believe there is still much to overcome and many of the benefits of gaming is lost when the common belief is that video games are either a waste of time or even further perpetuators of aggression and violence. In looking at the literature, there is no reason to believe that video games cause aggression or lead to violent acts or crime. At the same time, though, we do lack research which can demonstrate the value of games in a person’s life.
In seeking to gain collaboration and support, we have struggled with overcoming this bias. We have reached out to organizations who have shied away from our work due to lack of understanding, preconceived notions about the connection between violence and games, or a desire to see research “proving” that games are good for us prior to committing to working with us. This has been an unfortunate trend as groups have lost the opportunity to learn with us as we hope to conduct research to explore these issues further.
Another goal of our group is advocacy. We hope to educate organizations, professionals, and families on how they can use the culture to support lovers of all things gaming. To begin this work, we go back to the research concept. We want to show that people who truly love games use it as a way to connect with others, a way to decompress after a long day of work, and a way to solve problems and interact with the world in new ways. These are all things we strive to promote in our clients and in ourselves.
Still, though, we find resistance and even disdain from other professionals and have been working on how best to overcome this and market our value and the value of games and geek culture. This struggle is akin to that which I feel gamers experience often on a daily basis. We have experience that when we do find someone who shares our ideals and passions that they are so relieved to find someone whom they can talk to about these things. We do not share our work unless we feel we are in company which would be open to hearing about it. And when we do share it, there is at least for me a certain level of anxiety about what the response will be. This is the same fear that people who identify as geek and gamers often feel when they believe they are not with like-minded company. This speaks to the value of events such as PAX or our geek and gaming days simply to bring people together to feel comfortable and safe enjoying something they love.
The stigma and stereotypes are changing but they are still very real. I hope that through our work, we can help to tear down some of those walls and expose others to the rich world of gaming.
Thank you to anyone who has read this blog over the past several weeks. I wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday season. There will be no blog post next Sunday due to the holiday, but please check back in 2015. Be well!