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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gaming "Addictions" & Stereotypes ...

I don't think it's possible to have a blog with the title mine has without eventually writing at least one blog on this little subject ... I will focus primarily on the stigmas of PC Games, World of Warcraft in particular ... but I am highly aware that those that play console games, especially games like Halo and Call of Duty are met with the same stigmas ...

Just an fyi ... the pictures I have chosen to use in this post are meant as examples of the kind of demeaning and unfair stereotypes that are made of those in the gaming world.

This is something that can, on occasion infuriate me, the stigma, the labels, the stereotypes of not only those that play games but World of Warcraft in particular. I had a fellow gamer once say;

"I think a lot of people believe that playing isn't an acceptable form of leisure, second rate if you will, and think you should become more 'normal' by doing things that are more socially acceptable. There are those who think you're only playing WoW because you're too much of a 'loser' to do the 'normal' things. Until society views playing video games as a socially acceptable activity, I'm afraid that there will always be a stigma to being a gamer."

She is completely right ... that is the stigma that comes with playing PC games, if not console games as well, that those of us that play the game must be social rejects ... losers if you will ... incapable of a normal social life ... so we hide behind a keyboard ... hide behind a controller ... that we are not productive members of society ... from South Park episodes to a number of demeaning comics and "demotivational" posters ... not to mention the group of activists that want us and our kids off the computer and out from in front of the TV ... period ... 

As much "research" has been done to show that these games are "bad" for us ... well guess what folks ... there is research that has been done ... news reports that these games are good for us ... 

So, as to us being "losers" ... anybody who says that clearly has never actually played any MMORPG, but especially not WoW ... it is by far the most social hobby I have ever had ... and yes I said hobby ... we'll get into that later ... 
Gameplay revolves around social activities, such as groups of players cooperating on a quest or forming large "raid" groups to tackle the toughest game bosses. - FoxNews
... I have met more people that I would call friends playing WoW in the last two years, than I have met in my real life of mommy groups, jobs and school in the last ten years ... I won't say it surpasses the amount of friends that I made in high school ... but I was (well still am) a social butterfly ... anyway, in the last two years I have made amazing friends ... so you say "yes, from behind a keyboard" ... guess what? ... that's bullshit ... first off, if you're reading my blog, my guess is that you do a lot of communicating (whether in, out or both) ... from where? ... from behind a keyboard ... second, when my kids had H1N1, when my daughter broke her arm, when my other daughter impaled the roof of her mouth ... guess who all the notes of concern were from in my email, on my facebook ... guess who texted me and asked me if they were okay and if there was anything they could do ... none of my "real life" friends ... but those notes came by the dozen from these so-called "fake" friends I have ... and finally ... I have met people I play WoW with in real life, even went and picked up moving boxes from one when I was moving  ... on top of that ... it has been a place where other "real life" friends I have can do something social with me ... my boyfriend's best friend was stationed in Germany ... they couldn't meet for a beer, but they could play WoW together ... plus, it is  a social life, a social activity that costs almost no money, less than going to a movie every month, that allows me to have a social life without finding a babysitter for my kids and around the schedule that I need to keep in my real life ... I'm not dragging my kids off every evening so I can drop them off in a fitness center's daycare while I work on my exercise and body image "addiction" ... I'm not dragging them off to watch me play some kind of recreational sport, with a rec league ... they have a stable normal life, of homework after school, bed, and then I get on and raid ... giving me "mommy" time, without disrupting their lives ... also, anyone that really knows me, knows I have an active social life, one that has been slightly diminished by my recent financial situation ... which has nothing to do with WoW ...




To be successful in the game requires a certain level of intelligence ... one that educators and after-school programs are actually using to help encourage kids to learn in other aspects of their lives ... 



Constance Steinkuehler, an educational researcher who organized an afterschool group for boys to play, for educational purposes, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
Some of the eighth graders and high school freshmen who signed up for the group couldn't have cared less about writing or reading in school.

Yet those students have gone from barely stringing together two sentences to writing lengthy posts in their group's Web site forum, where they discuss detailed strategies for gearing up their virtual characters and figuring out tough quests.

"It has worked ridiculously well," Steinkuehler said. "It shouldn't be working as well as it is." - FoxNews

I think what many people don't understand about WoW is it is an amazingly complex game with it's own economy, social structure, etc., it is much like real life ... you have to choose a job and do work to earn gold in order to buy things you want ... and if you choose to be lazy and not train your skills or not farm the materials to craft the things you can craft ... or not do your dailies (quests you can do every day to increase your reputation and earn gold) ... if you choose to not do those things ... then you don't reap the benefit of the things you can buy ... but that doesn't sound anything like real life does it? ... of course it does ... in real life if you work hard for what you want you can, within reason, achieve it ... the game teaches both children and adults alike that perseverance and tenacity can help you achieve your goals. 


 ... unschooling mom, Kelli Traaseth, saw kids improve their literacy through online games such as "WoW." The results are strikingly similar to what Steinkuehler has witnessed in her afterschool group.
"We know several kids who learned to read while playing these games," Traaseth said. "If you want to classify some of the things we're doing when we play 'World of Warcraft,' the list could include math, reading, sociology, economics, creative writing and communications."  - FoxNews
 
My boyfriend is the Guild Master of a guild with over 300 toons, and 175 accounts ... that means 175+ real people, different, individual people that he has to keep working like clockwork, has to deal with complaints, schedules, holding people accountable ... if you think that doing that is really any different than running a company with 175 employees, you'd be wrong ... yes people are free to leave whenever they want, then again if you run a business, they're free to put in their two weeks notice or just walk off the job as well ...  keeping a large guild organized is much like running a company ... with a hierarchy of officers (managers from upper to low-level) ... to keep things running from the ground up ... younger officers especially have an amazing opportunity to learn about how to handle things in real life situations that come up later in their lives ...

Now let's get into this "addiction" thing ... okay people ... there is a difference between being a hobbyist and being an addict ... there are people that play games that are truly addicted to them ... they may need help ... they may need to quit playing altogether ... but the vast majority of people that play video games, whether World of War"crack" or Halo or Call of Duty or Guild wars .... are not addicts ... they are hobbyists ...



So what constitutes game addiction? It appears to be defined by various laundry lists of symptoms. When reading any number of articles on gaming addiction, responsible or clinical analysis are intermixed with some downright bizarre claims about this so-called addiction. In fact, these kinds of irresponsible statements are everywhere. According to a number of prominent articles on the subject, these symptoms may include:
Thinking about what is happening in-game when not logged in.
Dreaming about the game.
Playing up to several hours a day (or, conversely)
Playing 140 hours a month.
Seeking PvP advancement.
Belonging to raiding guilds or guilds with a bigger emphasis on goal-oriented play.
Time away from the game is spent doing things related to the game. This, apparently, is also discussed as being indicative of addiction. These things might include:
The purchasing of game books
Submitting fan art
Writing fan fiction
Talking about the game when not playing
Thinking about the game when not playing
Visiting web sites about the game
Posting on game-related forums
Researching tips and strategies for the game
Reading articles, like this one, about MMO gaming (guess you’re an addict, eh?)
Writing an article about gaming (I’ll be checking into rehab as soon as this gets posted, k?) - WanderingGoblin

"Geek. Nerd. Dork. Doesn't matter what you call it, all it says to me is 

'I'm jealous that you're smarter than I am.'

and I've learned the fun fact that you can't have dignity while having fun."

- Friend and Fellow Gamer Josh

 I will say, from a personal point of view that 140 hours a month seems somewhat excessive although ... that's 5 hours a day ... and really of the 16 hours that we're awake every day in a normal healthy life, that's not extremely obsessive. I mean, how much time a day does the average American spend watching TV or reading a book or countless other things ... I know plenty of people that turn on the TV at 5:30 when they get home from work, and then don't turn it off until 10:30 after the 10:00 news ... that's 5 hours of TV ... is that really better than playing a game that involves using intellectual and social skills? I think that "vegging out" in front of the TV has it's own set of issues ... that all being said I think I honestly play around 12-15 hours a week ... which is 52-65 hours a month ... on a "bad" week ... when we're really trying to achieve a goal or I am obsessed with getting to level 80 or other things, maybe my kids are with their dad, so I take advantage of some extra play time, I might play as much as 40 hours in one week, but those weeks are very, very rare ... and still don't interfere with my real life ... I still eat meals, and get out of the house to do things I need to do, I shower and take care of myself ... but I could see that someone without a job, and without kids could hit that 140 hour mark and not be an addict ... people have to understand that just because one person that does something has a problem does not mean that all are ... I mean all of you that go to the gym every day ... are you all anorexic? ... I mean by the definitions set above pretty much everyone I know is addicted to something ....

I have friends that are really into golf. While I’m not a golfer myself, their devotion to their hobby is obvious. They buy golfing outfits, they read golf magazines, they watch golf on television. They even visit golf websites. They talk about golf with their friends. If the so-called addiction standards, above, were applied to my golf buddies, they’d be declared golf addicts.

Come to think of it, if those standards were applied to any hobbyist, they’d all be declared addicts. Maybe I should have an intervention with my friend Julee. She’s quite the fishing addict. I know a couple of boating and motorcycle addicts, too. I’ve got friends who are addicted to books. That reading addiction needs to be overcome! And nearly everyone I know is, apparently, addicted to television. - WanderingGoblin

.... I agree completely ... I mean really people ... what is with this stigma we have ... that we're losers ... and addicts ... this game is a hobby to almost everyone I know that plays it ... I know a few where it has become an obsession, a few that may need help, but even they don't come close to the stereotypes that many activist groups are putting out there ... and to be completely honest I know plenty of people that would consider WoW their anti-drug ... their way of escaping their own reality ... there is a 15 year-old girl that we play with on occasion ... she has an alcoholic mother who has had a slew of abusive boyfriends ... she herself was arrested for "assaulting" her sister after her sister stole money and her iPod from her ... and I'm not saying that she was right or anything, but the thing is, this girl obviously has a life that she needs to escape from ... and to be able to escape to the land of Azeroth (the name of the "world" in World of Warcraft) ... has actually saved her from serious depression, cutting and suicide ... by her own words ... she has been suicidal more than once and logged into the game searching for someone that cares about her ... and low and behold these "fake" friends .... are the ones that are there for her ... 
 




I know that no matter what I say here, people will hold their own stigmas ... their own stereotypes ... and that's fine ... I say live and let live ... I will do my hobby ... you can do yours ... 




 Games are the way of the future and it's not likely you'd be able to completely shield your child from them even if you wanted to. However, it's important to learn as much as you can about the games and their content before allowing your child to play. - Lisa Mason




4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bravo. Great post.

Anonymous said...

Interesting approach. I know a lot of people that actually have no hobbies at all. They just sit in front of the PC and talk rubbish or talk behind the back of others with their "real friends" yet they consider gamming a childish thing. Boo to that I say, rather than talking bad or useless things for hours - IM addiction, try a game it's way more fun. For example my aunt recently got into Facebook games, that made my mom and uncle get into Facebook games too. I can say they spend to about 12 times more time on the phone (talking about the games) than they previously did talking about random usual chat. Which is a good thing since they're kind of far away one from another and they use this medium as a pretext to connect (the phone calls aren't 100% about games, I'd say a fair 50%) Even Aristotle said that the game as a leisure is good and the game as a purpose is bad. If a greek knew this in 300+ B.C. why can't people understand it now

Brandon Eller said...

I like how all of the pics are about people not having a life..yet you dedicate this page to showing how much of a life you have?...nice job great logic..why don't you go get a life?

E said...

@Brandon ... I almost just deleted your comment and left it alone, because you obviously didn't read the post ... but at the very beginning I make this statement "Just an fyi ... the pictures I have chosen to use in this post are meant as examples of the kind of demeaning and unfair stereotypes that are made of those in the gaming world." ... which is exactly what it was designed to do ... I was showing people the kinds of stereotypes that gamers have to deal with and face, basically the bullying they deal with ... I can't tell from your comment whether you are one of those bullies or whether you are a gamer that misinterpreted, but either way your comment was out of line ..

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