A Shift In Media Leading To a Shift In Perception
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. Elizabeth's essay is the second installment in this four-part series.

Gaming culture has struggled with its public image almost since its beginning. One of the first gaming controversies started right at the start of gaming’s rise to popularity in the late 1970’s. It concerned “Death Raceâ€, a game where the player won points by mowing over pedestrian-resembling ghouls, and sparked a debate about violence in video games that plummeted gaming culture’s reputation, turning the public’s perception of games as a fun family pastime into the gateway to a life of violent crime. This first condemnation of gaming was far from the last, as Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto followed, sparking controversies about violent and sexual themes in gaming that still continue to this day. Mainstream media has tended to drag gaming culture through the mud, focusing on stories that only show the ugly side of games. To me, mainstream media such as Fox News or CNN tends only to focus on games when the subject centers around a negative aspect of gaming culture, such as gaming addiction, sexism within the industry, or their long-time tirade of whether games encourage violence or not. Gaming culture has not had it easy; the consensus by major news outlets is that games encourage bad habits and unsafe ideas, and are mostly played by fringe weirdos. Nowadays, after the integration of gaming to mainstream pop culture, this pedaling of negative aspects of gaming could be attributed more to the overall tendency for news outlets to prioritize negative news over positive because it brings higher ratingsâ€"â€"but regardless the reason, gaming culture is still not spoken of very highly.

Ultimately, it comes down to gamers themselves to create media that doesn’t negatively disregard them. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. Smaller, internet-based media created by gamers that gives gaming a more positive rep has been growing in popularity while working to dispel the negativity created by mainstream media. Sites like IGN and MetaCritic that regularly publish reviews and critics of individual games give gaming culture legitimacy and a bit of tout as an art form, while entertainment sites with huge followings like RoosterTeeth show gaming is a global community that brings people together. If YouTube can be considered media, then the status of the “Let’s Play†community as one of the largest and most-watched on YouTube and the position of Pewdiepie, a Swedish gamer that primarily films himself playing through games, as #1 most subscribed YouTuber demonstrates how gaming culture is portrayed positively as a global community of people collaborating and having fun.

However, although these smaller media firms give gaming culture a more positive boost, they don’t skip over gaming culture’s problems or paint a rosy, unrealistic picture of what gaming is. While they tend to focus on aspects of gaming that deserve praise, such as its potential as a new art form and bringing of people together into passionate, creative communities, they don't ignore the problems within gaming culture. Instead, they approach games as a serious medium deserving of both celebration and nuanced, fair critique. Their treatment of games gives respect to how gaming culture is viewed and showing how games are comprised of a diverse culture with many pros and cons that is beloved by billions of people.

So while big news outlets aren’t letting gaming culture off the hook too soon, smaller media has stepped up to show that gaming culture does give a damn about its reputationâ€"â€"and its taking big strides to show a more positive view of gaming culture.

Have a question? Just want to say hi? Feel free to leave comments in the thread or email me at elizabethnvana@gmail.com!
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