Gamers, and geeks in general, don’t always have it easy.
As children and teenagers, many of us were bullied for enjoying a hobby that really didn’t gain social acceptance until relatively recently. Still, as adults, some call us as lazy, virgins, manchildren and other unfair descriptors.
I can say from personal experience how wildly untrue those claims are.
I obviously consider myself a gamer, which, in my loose definition, is someone who enjoys and regularly plays video games. I’ve been a gamer pretty much all my life, and while I can’t recall being directly bullied for my hobby, I know those who have been.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen the gaming community as a whole labeled as misogynist and racist. I’ve heard tales of gamers who were ostracized and socially tortured for nothing more than being a little different and for loving games.
But in that time, I’ve also made friends with gamers, both online and off, and they’re among the best people I know.
I’ve seen gamers donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities and accept anyone into their ranks, regardless of sex, race, class or creed. This column alone has introduced me to several middle-aged adults who game, and they’re successful and respectable employees, spouses and parents.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. “World of Warcraft” developer Mark Kern this week took to Twitter and retweeted stories of how #GamersAreGood. I’d like to share some of those tweets with you.
-- “I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen gamers befriend someone over a game. Nevermind their background, they helped them find jobs, housing, deal with grief, and prevent suicide. People from all backgrounds and creeds, together with something they enjoy,” wrote @ArsVampyre.
-- “I usually donate a 3DS to a children’s hospital each Christmas. Last year, I got a bonus … so I donated a Switch with ‘Super Mario Odyssey,’” @OfficerMeeseeks tweeted.
-- “I’m a woman. I grew up with serious social problems because I moved from country to country, different languages. I found refuge in the gaming community. It even landed me a career. I like that my peers don’t treat me differently. I am merely a member of the community,” said @XGrabMyY.
-- “Gaming got me through depression as a teenager. Gaming introduced me to many, many of my friends, both male and female. Gaming is how I bond with my children. Gaming is how I became interested in technology. Gaming is what fuels my creativity. Gaming is good,” tweeted @ARoguishHam.
-- “I was bullied hardcore in middle school because of being into different things, like computer games. My main bully and I ended up becoming best of friends in high school, mostly bonding over video games I brought over because his family couldn’t afford them,” @CalabuMaki wrote.
There are thousands more tweets from people sharing tales of how gaming turned people’s lives around, formed friendships and changed the world. It’s inspiring to see.
“#GamersAreGood is a reaction to the excess focus on negativity around gaming as seen in the media. The vast majority of gamers are good people who have benefited from each other as well as the games they share. This rarely gets highlighted by the negative mainstream gaming press,” Kern told me.
Gamers are just like any other group of people. Yes, the hobby might attract the socially ostracized and downtrodden, but that doesn’t make the group as a whole any less great. Quite the contrary: It makes the group better.
“We live in a time of perpetual outrage and offense, and this is what sells newspapers and website articles. #GamersAreGood shows us the overly negative perception of gamers is skewed and very wrong,” Kern said.
As with any other hobby, a few bad examples don’t speak for the whole. As @redlianak tweeted, “For some reason, some people find it easy to lump all gamers together and treat us like we’re all the same. All bad. I know that’s not true. The problem is, gamers are shy. So the few bad people are treated as if they’re speaking for the millions of good people.”
So if you harbor any ill will toward gamers, why not give us another chance? I’m sure you’ll quickly see how good we are.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.