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Media Perceptions of Gaming Through Social Media
This summer, the RCM Writing department started its first Summer Writing program with four college interns from around the US. For August, they were asked to write about whether they feel the media has a more positive or a more negative slant regarding gaming culture. Ruby Re's essay is the first installment in this four-part series.


When I think about the media's role in society, I think less of traditional media outlets such as TV, newspapers, and radio. Instead, I think of social media. With sites and apps that are easy to use, social media has become one of the fastest ways to transmit information, sometimes presenting new information before it can be picked up by traditional media. For all topics, including gaming, this allows for a real time reaction to new information. However, this instant consumption of information can lead to unfiltered reactions, both positive and negative.

For the past week, my Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds has been filled with posts about Pokèmon Go. The initial positive reaction to the game was great; I was able to watch my friends get together and have a lot of fun while searching for Pokèmon. It was also entertaining to receive texts from my friends about how the game was affecting their lives. After introducing me to the game earlier in the day, one of my friends texted me to tell me that the entire server was down and he was displeased. Some of my other friends began texting me to tell me that I needed to download the game so I could start playing with them (which I still haven't done). It was fun to watch them update their statuses and share pictures on Instagram of the Pokèmon that they caught.

Yet, this only positive response to the game didn't last very long. Soon, there were various posts about users being attacked, traumatized, and forgetting to use common sense while playing the game. For example, after a man crashed his car while playing Pokèmon Go, the Auburn Police Department issued a media release with common sense tips for playing the game. In my home town, two people jumped the fence at our zoo to catch Pokèmon and are now facing criminal charges. Instances like these, along with misunderstandings about gaming and fandom culture, have led to the shaming of some players on social media, either through comments or by sharing negative memes.

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Some players have countered these responses by continuing to share updates about their adventures and by countering the negative memes with positive (sometimes defensive) memes.

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Ultimately, all of these types responses are not new. Pokèmon Go's popularity is simply bringing many long held stereotypes about gaming to the forefront of social media. The association of violence with the game has not helped the stereotype that gamers are violent. The memes accusing players of having no life outside of the game has continued to push the image of gamers being lazy. Even though these images exist, the majority of the positive attention has focused on gaming as a community, which can also be helpful during the gameplay of Pokèmon Go. With the promotion of the positive community aspect of gaming, I suspect that the media's views may start to shift. Throughout the past few years, I have seen the beginning of this shift through the promotion of conventions. These conventions have brought more awareness and acceptance of gaming and fandoms. As the positive attention becomes even more prominent, the media, both social and traditional, will have to adapt a more positive view of gaming in order to keep their content relevant.
Ruby Re is a writer and member of the RCM Summer Writing program. She'd love to see your feedback in the comments below!
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