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    • CommentAuthorkperkins
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    @Cat Vincent: Maybe you should make another thread for that, since it really has nothing to do with this one. I'm sure that'll bring the Ass Eels down on this topic.
  1.  (8201.42)
    I'm sure if it's considered off-topic (which I don't think it is - it does tie in to Obama's actual speech - or I wouldn't have posted here!) Ariana or others will make it known.
  2.  (8201.43)
    For what its worth, I think Cat Vincent's post is directly related to Obama's speech, although maybe not directly responding to the misinterpretation/overreaction to it. I think it's an interesting facet of this issue, which I alluded to in my earlier post. There are so many sources of misinformation and spin, that someone who has a particular agenda can find mountains of "support" for their point of view, even if that point of view is entirely based on fantasy (or worse, blatant lies). People who are more interested in screaming nonsense at eachother (as opposed to discussing legitimate differences) can find a whole host of talking heads and "experts" to support their "Tastes Great!" position and to discount the views of the evil "Less Filling!" crowd. What fun!

    I think it is a legitimate concern that lies become truth in the 24/7 internet echo-chamber, and that people who only access certain sources of information can completely avoid reality. I mean, have you ever seen the "opinion polls" on Fox News? If you're a moron, you read those polls and believe that 98% of the population holds conservative views, without realizing that the poll only reflects the demographic that reads and responds to Fox News. And really, if you're just in it for the screaming matches, who wants to read facts and figures that might dispute your worldview anyway? Once someone makes that mistake (or more accurately: is led by the nose down that path), their view of political reality becomes distorted. (I use Fox because its an easy target, but obviously this happens on both ends of the political spectrum).

    Having government agents infiltrate these groups with the intention of influencing their views is scary as hell and obviously not the answer--but that doesn't negate the problem. If the citizenry doesn't have an accurate understanding of the problems we collectively face, its literally impossible to arrive at collective solutions. In that context, technology can cause as much harm as good, no matter how cool it is.
  3.  (8201.44)
    I'd also posit that self-identifying as a "gamer" deserves at least some ridicule. By definition games are a trivial diversion. I play lots of video games and enjoy the hell out of them, but if the most important, defining thing in someone's life is engaging in trivial diversion, well, that's kinda pathetic...

    I don't think Obama was saying video games are bad--I think his point was that if all you do with the amazing technology available to you is play games or rock out to Brittney Spears, you're missing out.
    • CommentAuthorkperkins
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    @cat vincent: on 2nd reading I see where that does tie in somewhat, in a conspiracy theorist sort of way, so, sorry about that.
    @oogliemooglie : Couldn't agree more with your last 2 posts.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    Can't remember where I saw this quote bUt ..."Ah, the Internet! Where men are men, the women are men and the children are FBI agents. "
    • CommentAuthorJiveKitty
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    Trivial diversion. Identification. Meh. If they're one of the things that are enjoyed most, I don't see why a person wouldn't self-identify as a "gamer" or why that would be ridiculed. There're also a lot of other things around gaming than just the games, social interaction for one - and I'm not meaning through the live platforms. They also offer an escape from reality and possibly even a halfway house between vicarious participation and participation for certain events. I can see why people would self-identify with that.

    Gaming is also an activity accessible practically every day if you've got a functioning system and games. Gamers, as self-identified, potentially have many other diverse interests, such as playing sport, martial arts, socialising, watching movies and television, following current events, going to gigs, whatever (and I know many gamers who have these interests, including the more active ones). But by and large, many people don't self-identify a tag with these things as they are fairly passive activities, activities which are just done in the course of functioning in society, or activities which one tends to need a certain level of proficiency - which tends to be a lot more limited by potential scope of ability than a gamer's - in before they feel they should self-identify. Many of the more active ones are, for the non-professional, also typically scheduled only a few times a week (although one may potentially devote more time to them and the activities around them than they devote to gaming in a week): frequency can trump quantity.

    As to Obama's speech, I think his general thrust about the media environment was probably correct. However, I think he singled out the wrong products, possibly the iPad being the exception, as the others are specifically targeted as entertainment platforms on the whole and don't tend to be viewed as dispensers of truthful/realistic information as to the world. Criticising an entertainment platform for being an entertainment platform seems a little silly, despite it potentially being a drain on cognitive surplus (but then so are many other activities which are less overt about what they are, perhaps). I think if you want people to become more than passive consumers of news/information as entertainment, you need to hammer home that op-eds, regardless as to the form they come in, should not be taken as fact, that people should attempt to get news/information from a variety of sources, that people should concentrate on the known facts of what is being said rather than the opinion written around them and work back from that to inform their own conclusions, that headlines are often misleading and unrepresentative of what is being stated, that just because a large number of people believe something it isn't necessarily true, and so-on. Nonetheless, I am only going off MG's initial quote here, as out of necessity I must be careful with bandwidth, so have not viewed the whole speech.

    People being derisive about gaming isn't really an issue for me although I may have written a bit here. Strangely enough, many of the things William George mentioned (Apple's Walled Garden, invasive DRM, etc) frustrate me much more than this or Ebert saying games can't be art. As for Wikipedia and research, at my university there was a blanket ban on citing it in research, and I can understand why, although that said, books and articles are going to have biases that you'll need to boil out as well. However, where peer-reviewed or from reputable sources, there will still be the biases but there's less likelihood the facts as much as they are known will be outright wrong.
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2010
    I am a gamer. I suck at sports (genetic condition, can't build the muscle to be any good at them, oddly decent hockey player though...)

    I identify as that. Everything good and enjoyable in my entire life that has happened to me has been as a direct result of being a gamer.

    I'm a videogame programmer by trade now. I earn a good salary off it. It is, quite clearly, the most important factor of my entire life on this planet thus far.

    Ridicule me all you want.
  4.  (8201.49)
    This is one of the few things I've ever agreed with from Obama.

    It's weird to go to a restaurant or pub and hearing "beep...beep...diblump...beep," instead of people actually talking.
    I've come close to physical violence before when two people who are sitting right next to each other are texting
    one another. People's ability to physically interact is in the infancy of becoming seriously affected.
    In some ways it seems like in the last 10 years, my generation (20-30) decided, "no way are robots gonna put
    us in the matrix...cause we're going to do it ourselves."

    I don't own a video game system, or a smartphone. I don't have a large understanding of these things, but I don't fear
    them. I will say that 80% of the people I know who have these things lead significantly different lives than those
    who dont, and most have a hard time being in physically social situations.

    I think gaming is largely a drug for these people. The way they talk is practically identical to the way people
    who do alot of substance use, lways talking about that "one time I go so high."

    Once again, I have nothing against gaming, and smart-tech (or most drugs.) There's just some people
    that can do it, and some people who REALLY shouldn't. As with most things, the ones who shouldn't
    are the ones doing it the most.
  5.  (8201.50)
    I don't see why a person wouldn't self-identify as a "gamer" or why that would be ridiculed

    Let's put it this way: If someone stands up and proudly declares, "Hey world! I watch TV! Five hundred channels! Respect me and my TV-watching culture!" others have the right to raise their eyebrow, or giggle a little at them.

    And when they act as if they're being persecuted like they were Jews in Warsaw every time someone says something negative about games, people should have the right to ridicule them for leaping over the boundaries of sanity and doing a little end zone shuffle around the sense of perspective they just spiked into the ground.
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2010
    @Flabyo makes a strong case for games being non-trivial. There are many other arguments that could be given in support of it.
    CG Jung said something like (I think) "The greater the mind, the greater its capacity, and its need, for play."
    What is a chess grandmaster if not simply a particular species of gamer? Are we mocking Kasparov for taking it all so seriously? (the chess, that is, clearly the man is insane)

    As @oogliemooglie says, making your gamer-ness the sole defining feature of your life does kinda seem pathetic, but actually, isn't it kinda pathetic to make any single thing the sole defining feature of your life? Most people I know tend to be a bit more plural in their interests than that. Many of them would proudly claim to be gamers but that's hardly the limit of their activities. @oddbill has already said most of that of course, but regular gamers do have their own distinct language, their own conventions, their own heroes. It's easy to see that's where the pseudo-tribal identity emerges from, but knowing who Leeeeeeeroy Jenkins was, what the Guiding Hand did or why you don't want BL00D_TK on your side in a team deathmatch has no real bearing on whether you are a "r34l" gamer or not.

    I think the word gamer is mostly just about a perception, as the comic strip posted on page 2 so neatly illustrates. We are almost all gamers of one sort or another, it's actually kind of a meaningless word in terms of describing a category of people. "console owners", "MMORPG players", "FFXXVIII addicts" all do a much better job of defining a specific group of people with something in common than the word gamers does. To extend oddbill's analogy, "gamers" could be considered roughly equivalent to "movie lovers" in general and those more specific sub-groups mentioned above could be referred to in terms of their genre interest, horror fans, noir fans, etc.

    If some authority figure came out saying that movies were awful and rotted your brain then they would be laughed out of the room. Or get their eyes gouged out by Roger Ebert's atavistic thumbs. The irritated reaction of gamers when somebody says the same thing about games is legitimate. It just proves how out of touch and ignorant the person is. Please note: I well understand that this was not what Obama meant, fwiw I think he made a perfectly sensible point.
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2010
    FFXXVIII? Is that the one where they finally admit they're tired of making games and make a movie that only plays if you're holding the controller?
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2010
    I have no idea, never played/watched it. Apparently the hair is very realistic.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2010

    That's a very fair summary of it I think.
  6.  (8201.55)

    If some authority figure came out saying that movies were awful and rotted your brain then they would be laughed out of the room

    But it has been said before that movies are unhealthy. It was also said in the past that books rotted your brain.
    New technology tends to be villainized and not understood by older generations because they haven't grown up with it, it's not part of their norm, and they tend to overgeneralize as well.

    I know a lot of kids who play video and computer games often but wouldn't consider themselves 'gamers'- linking that idea to people who are loners, overweight, unclean and antisocial. They do lan parties, internet cafe parties, and use 'games' to augment their social life. It's a group activity, something they share with their friends, and many games they play also have chat systems within so they can type and talk to their friends as well. (Take what I say with a grain of salt or a handful or so- I do live in a conservative hellhole that's stuck back in time).
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2010
    @Roo - absolutely, it has been said before. But anyone saying now that "watching films is unhealthy" would be derided, and rightly so. It is not the film-watching that makes an unhealthy person unhealthy. Likewise, it's not the gaming. The root cause of the unhealthiness behind someone who literally starves themselves to death playing WoW really doesn't have all that much to do with WoW as a game, it's more about what the rest of their life looks like.

    heh, I don't think gamer necessarily carries the connotations of "loners, overweight, unclean and antisocial" although YMMV. I know people who are all those things but who aren't gamers, I know gamers who wouldn't fit any of those categories. I just don't think there's any plausible cause and effect relationship there. Yep, mp games are a means of social interaction but so are films and TV - otherwise the watercooler moment wouldn't exist. So are books and comics for that matter, or we wouldn't be engaged in this discussion right now :)
  7.  (8201.57)
    I will agree that most gamers that I've known and met aren't like that. But the idea that they are seems fairly pervasive in my local area
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2010
    I don't think gamer necessarily carries the connotations of "loners, overweight, unclean and antisocial" although YMMV.
    But it does, that's the thing. And not just video games, but wargaming, card games, pen-and-paper RPGs, LARP, and so on.

    The thing is, anyone that does a sedentary activity to excess is going to get fat or [long list of unpleasant qualities] if they don't take care of themselves, as well. Watching movies 8 hours a day will make you fat if you don't exercise. Sitting at a desk for 13 hours a day will make you smell pretty bad after a couple days if you don't shower.

    This is the thing about the "gamer" stereotype: it only focuses on the people that do it constantly, to excess, to the exclusion of all else. That doesn't happen with most other activities. People who run for 2 miles a day rarely get lumped in with people that run a marathon every weekend. The thing is, I don't understand why. But there's a good many things about human society I don't really get, so I'm not going to make a huge case out of it.

    Also, from personal experience, I find that simply not caring what people think about your hobbies is a good way to get them to stop making a big deal out of it, unless it involves animal sacrifice or drinking urine. I still get the "OMG YOU PLAY MAGIC?! NERD!" line when I mention it. But then I explain that behind the monsters and spells and nomenclature (and still, sadly, one too many pictures of semi-naked elf chicks) there is a complex game of strategy and probability, sort of like chess with 8000 different pieces. That usually shuts most hecklers up. While not every video game lives up to that description, there are still redeeming qualities in games, and to ignore or ridicule people just on the basis of whether or not they play video games is silly. Yet people still do it.

    Anyway, that's enough derailment from me.
      CommentAuthorcity creed
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
    not derailment; promulgating an interesting discussion into new territory ;)

    LARP is almost by definition a social activity that involves some kind of physical element, more than sitting round a table or at a computer does anyway. LARPers I know regularly go out in groups of a dozen or more, lugging equipment miles uphill to find somewhere they won't be disturbed by dogwalkers and then spending 6 or 8 hours running around brambled hilltops like maniacs. There are probably sheepdogs that get less exercise. I'd suggest that we either have to drop LARPers from our notional list of stereotype-fitting gamer subgroups or accept that gamers can be hypermobile too.

    This is the thing about the "gamer" stereotype: it only focuses on the people that do it constantly, to excess, to the exclusion of all else.

    This was the point I was trying to make above. People who are that obsessive about anything are unhealthy, it's not specific to gaming. I'm reminded of athletes I've known who spend practically their whole waking lives in preparation for their next competition. In my experience, that doesn't actually do their personality any favours at all. Eventually it often exacts a pretty heavy toll on their bodies too. I'd rather make small talk with a gamer who is used to being one of a diverse group of people and who, along with games, is also keenly interested in books, comics, movies etc.

    I played a zombie MMO for about 15 months, logging in on average twice a day. It was a one-life-only deal so the stakes were a bit higher than most other MMOs. The group of gamers that survived the initial apocalypse (~50 out of 10,000) became close friends, coalescing into a tight unit, depending on each other to stay in the game. There are real bonds of loyalty there, and in a game where the "enemy" is a different bunch of human players playing zombies, there is really a lot to learn about human psychology under pressure, about team planning, even about the politics of keeping such a group of survivors from tearing itself apart in classic zombie movie style. Games give an opportunity to explore parts of our personalities that might otherwise never come to the fore. Games allow people to become leaders, visionaries, heroes, where real life holds few such possibilities for them.

    Those gamers of mine are a very mixed bunch. One is the editor of a newspaper, one is a researcher on some kind of sinister-sounding federal program, one runs an animal sanctuary, one is a consultant who specialises in greening corporate spaces, one is a DJ and musician, several are students, there are also copywriters, artists, scientists, surfers and bloggers. They're from (among other places) the UK, the US, Oz, NZ, Japan, Germany and Canada. For the vast majority of them, gaming is just one aspect of who they are. Sure there are the "pro-gamers" who also play two dozen other MMOs and belong to sprawling online game clans that have thousands of members across dozens of games but those guys are actually a tiny minority of the gamer population. Mostly these are regular folks who also happen to be gamers, and they're some of the wiliest, most resilient and most reliable people I know.
    • CommentTimeMay 14th 2010
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but a LOT of LARPers are women. Women who will kick you in the jimmies for assuming they're "someone's girlfriend" or "here for the costumes" or something.

    When I did live action gaming back in college for every "comic book store guy" I met a half-dozen people who completely defied the stereotype.

    Not to say the cheeto-stained are not amongst us, but assuming that's the whole of the audience is ultimately self-defeating. So much focus on the cliched consumer loses focus on drawing in new people as well as making folks already involved feel more welcome.