I’ve always advocated that video games are an art form, a font of knowledge, an interactive experience of learning regardless of the genre of the game in question.
I suppose you could say that I am an “Activist in the Defence of Gaming”.

I feel the need to defend the entertainment medium at every stab or snide remark. I’m not just defending the games, but the professionals who developed and published them, those of us who play them and those of us who write about them.

Now this argument and my feelings maybe something you mutually grip hold of or it may be something you dismiss into either of two categories – you disagree with me or think it’s all just pointless.

So I’m gonna paint a couple pictures.
“You’re on the way home from a rough day at work, it’s a long dark drive. You get cut off at intersections, you’ve been called 5 times during the journey and can’t answer but the phone rings continuously until you do answer or throw it out the window and your almost out of gas due to your partner not filling it up last night….all that’s keeping you going is the ice cold beer in the fridge and the match on TV.
It’s your reward for putting up with the stress of your day”

Another.
“You’re on the receiving end of bad news. It’s hard to deal with and it’s playing on your mind over and over… it’s causing you worry and stress. It’s getting you nowhere and fixes nothing. Nothing can be done about this bad news but it’s going to be affecting you, your family or friends for the foreseeable future. So it’s been a few long days with lack of sleep and worry. You need an escape, you need to switch off and rest your mind from the issue. 
You open a book or graphic novel, sit in your reading chair or you open up your laptop/diary and blog or record your life in your personal book…. with headphones on – music on…escape”
You can see these… you’ve been in these situations or something similar at some point in your lives and if not… you probably will in the future. It’s life, it’s human.

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We look to our rewards, to our escapes because sometimes we need to just exit our lives for a little while. It’s been done since literature was born.
Film, TV, books, music, blogging, hunting, shooting at the range, cooking, grabbing a beer with your pals, dressing up as a woman every Tuesday night…. these are all acceptable means of relief or rewards. And why not, we deserve it.

So why?
Why are video games in a different category still?
Why are games, developers, publishers and gamers themselves persecuted for enjoying their rewards.
We are told continuously to “go do something constructive”, “your wasting your life/time”, “games are damaging your mind”, “games are responsible for violent crimes”….the list really does go on but I still fail to see the difference with other entertainment mediums.

Violent and graphic movies have been around for over a century.
Books… factual, fictional or historical have been bleak or painful, with hate and lust and greed for thousands of years.
Music has been about heartbreak, love, life/death, revenge, popping caps in ass… you never hear someone being called lazy for listening to chill out music.

You can see my point here… So how is it any different?
I don’t dress up as an Italian Plummer at the weekend and eat mushrooms…

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Going back a few years, I remember watching a segment on a chat show hosted by a British house hold name, Alan Titchmarsh, in which he chats and interviews a few celebs or currently relevant people. I’d never watched the show before – or after this for that matter – but I was sent a link to the clip by a colleague a few days after the actual show had aired on TV.

On the clip, the host “Alan” is introducing his third and final guest, he was a chief editor at the UK Division of CVG (computer and video games). The interview gets underway with a few standard comments of how big the industry is, where’s it’s come from and where it’s going… niceties really, just before the real reason he’s there becomes apparent.

It then becomes an attack, blaming gaming for crime, claiming there should be age restrictions on them and denying they exist when he is told that there are age restrictions in place. It was… shocking. I was infuriated, not only at the attack but at the sheer lack of attempted research to even back up their arguments. It was sheer stupidity at its best. Even claiming it was dropping the average intelligence of our kids.
After failing to persuade the narrow minded host and other guests the lad refuses to speak any further. The clip was then pulled down and replaced with an edited version in which there is no walk-out.

The Gaming industry makes more money in a year than the music and movie industry combined.
Which at first is a scary thought but when you think about it, it makes sense as it has more to offer than both. You’re not watching some plonker walk around a corner toward almost certain death, you are controlling the protagonist…it’s you doing the walking. It makes the experience all the more personal and surreal.

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Because of games: I recognise cityscapes. I recognise equipment and weaponry. I recognise people… historical or present. I know what to do in a massive list of emergencies. I have expanded my knowledge of vehicles and the mechanics of such, of circuitry and electronics. My general knowledge is swelling.
I watch a movie these days and can tell you the city by looking at the skyline, the accent of the people or the names of landmarks there. Without ever physically having been there.
I can name about 80 modern day firearms (not that I’d ever need to use one (I hope)) by just looking at them. Knowing roughly their required ammunition and capabilities… even how to load and maintain them to an extent.
I can name the make and model of most cars that pass us on the street and roughly again the capabilities of such, down to the stock horsepower and even the engine weight of a few cars.
I have been educated heavily on the first and second world wars…from tactics and battles to weaponry and equipment.

The list really does go on.
The point. There is one (promise). The point is for you to start accepting video games as an equal entertainment medium to every other. We aren’t wasting our lives in games anymore than millions do watching Eastenders.

We are doing something constructive, we are learning about our history or the mundane modern day.
We aren’t getting violent from gaming any more than we would from eating a carrot.
We aren’t wasting our time anymore than the average person watching an episode of CSI.

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Now don’t hit back so sharply with some people taking gaming to the extremes, playing 120 hours a week on Fifa is something very few do…but It’s fact that those who take movies and TV to that extreme out weigh gamers 50 to 1.

Let people live their lives and enjoy what they want.
If someone means to do harm, the game/movie/song/book is not what’s causing it, it would be something in them to begin with. Such as someone who would be dangerous with a Brussel sprout.

So where’s the problem here?
Where lies the real issue?

Let us know what you think – I am genuinely interested.
Gryff

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