The time to be a gamer has never been better

By Glenn Battishill

Two weeks in is as good a time as any to write that column that I always write about video games.


It’s been an interesting year for video games: California ruled that video games are protected by the First Amendment, the government has begun funding video games for educational purposes, and the video game industry is growing healthier and more versatile every day.

The video game industry’s profits have remained largely unaffected by the global economic downturn since the larger companies have had to cut costs wherever they could, which has allowed smaller studios to flourish. Independent developers like Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson have become overnight stars. Persson himself has sold millions of copies of a game that is still in its testing phase.

Two weeks in is as good a time as any to write that column that I always write about video games.


It is a great time to be a gamer; the wide array of games offer millions of options that offer whatever you want. Online game distribution has become hugely popular. Online stores like the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade have made a killing on distributing smaller, cheaper and shorter games.

The success of Steam, an online distributor, has served as an example to online stores everywhere since the Steam community is one of the most loyal in existence.

Despite all the great things that games do, people always want to rain on the gaming parade with their constant claims about the adverse effects of gaming.

All of which are false.

“Video games cause violence.”

There never has been – nor will there ever be – a conclusive study that shows a legitimate link between virtual violence and real-life violent thoughts. People think games caused the horrific Columbine shootings simply because the shooters had a copy of “Doom” in their computer. The rare cases when avid gamers turn into gun-toting madmen are done not because of the video games, but usually because the raving gunmen had a legitimate mental disorder. Video games have actually been proven to increase hand-eye coordination, cognitive mapping skills and decision-making skill.

“Video games just market sex to our children”

The ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) has a very strict system in place to prevent sexual themes in games marketed to younger children. It is illegal to sell a “Mature” rated game to someone without checking a valid ID. If kids are seeing sexual content in video games it’s because their parents are too lazy to actually parent their children, and they just buy them whatever they want without checking a game’s content or rating.

“Video games make people socially awkward”

The most popular “nerd” stereotype is the image of an obese adult living in his parents’ basement. It’s true that I went to high school with people who didn’t go outside and would rather spend their time playing “World of Warcraft,” but how is that the video game’s fault? This argument is one that I’ve been on both sides of; first on the “WoW is bad” side but now on the “WoW is just a game, it’s the person who has problems”.

It’s true that certain games like “Angry Birds” and “Farmville” are designed to be addictive, but you can’t blame them when people make poor decisions that lead to video game addiction. Video games don’t force anyone to play, it’s a choice.

“Video games don’t involve skill or strategy like sports do.”

Ever heard of “Starcraft”? It’s a computer strategy game that came out in 1998 and revitalized the real time strategy genre of games. It also happens to be the national sport of South Korea; national sport, as in the most televised sport in the country.

Players earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year; they make “Starcraft” jokes on national television; people go to prison when they rig “Starcraft” games; and corporations sponsor teams of players, who train on average 12 hours a day.

This has been going on for close to a decade.

Video games are serious business, it’s about time people acted like it.