In years gone by, there were certain stigmas attached to playing video games. Mainly enforced by parents, teachers, and the media, there were some so-called truths spread about the medium.
- Video games are bad for you
- Video gaming is geeky
- Video games cause violent behaviour
And so on and so on. Now, admittedly, there can be some notion of truth. The naysayers, while going over the top, had reason to label the negative effects of video games. Those teenagers who sat in their rooms playing games nearly 24/7 were putting their health at risk. Gaming was a niche medium for a while, so the word ‘geeky’ could be applied to the hobby. And there was some suggestion that the more violent video games did cause violent behaviour, though the jury is still out on that one.
However, times move on and video games (in most circles) no longer hold the stigma they once did. There is no longer the need to feel shame for being a video gamer. Why?
- Rather than focussing on the negative health effects of gaming, there is now evidence to suggest video games are actually good for you. Studies have shown that gaming improves cognitive functions (children perform better in schools as a result), and evidence also suggests video gaming is a great way to de-stress, calming the mind, rather than triggering violent outbursts.
- In the past, video gaming was seen as a solitary hobby, with worries from parents that their children were becoming social outcasts as they sat forever in their bedrooms. No longer is this the case. Thanks to the Nintendo Wii and it’s motion-controlled goodness, video gaming became something families did together. Rather than isolate family members, popular games such as Wii Sports brought people together to play in a shared hobby.
- Following on from the above, gaming supports social conventions, albeit based around virtual worlds rather than real-life situations. Online gaming is huge, and friendships have been built around popular multiplayer games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield. These are genuine friendships too, with healthy camaraderie between players as they form clans who play together across multiple games.
- Gaming is now in the hands of the masses, with smartphones and tablets creating a nation of gamers, rather than a select few. Even those naysayers – looking at those complaining parents out there – have discovered the joys of gaming, with casual titles aimed at this burgeoning market. It’s not all Candy Crush and Words With Friends, however, as the mobile market has more graphically intensive and complicated games, such as Final Fantasy 15 and Half-Life 2, distant cousins of their console forebears, allowing anybody the opportunity to get sucked into a vast and immersive adventure from the palm of their hands.
- Why don’t you go out and play sport? We aren’t asking you that, but it was something that teenagers up and down the country heard from their parents. For starters, who wants to go out into the cold and kick a football around when you can sit in the comfort of your own home and play Fifa instead? Of course, you know where we are heading, as video gaming has now been classified as a sport itself, with the rise of eSports. Even television networks want a piece of the action now, away from YouTube and Twitch, as the passive tv viewer sat in front of their box may soon have the opportunity to see ‘what all the fuss is about.’
So, video games no longer hold the stigma they once did. Millions of happy gamers can finally rejoice at that fact. While there are dangers still – we really shouldn’t sit in front of the tv for hours – it is good for game developers and gamers alike, that this is no longer a bedroom hobby confined only to the geeks amongst us. But hey, who said being a geek was a bad thing anyway?