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Let’s Romanticize Video Games Just Like We Do Books

Look, books are fun and stimulating. But so are video games.

Books

“Why yes I’m intelligent with my 500 books on Shakespeare!” Also, don’t do this at your local library, please.

As Queen of Controversial opinions, I hereby declare that books aren’t that bloody great.

Okay, seriously don’t get me wrong. I love a good book, I’m doing a friggin’ degree in Creative Writing and reading is one of my favourite past times, so my problem is not books versus video games and vice versa.

My beef is the perception of video games and the people that play them. Look, you can argue until your face turns blue that “video games are more accepted now, gamers are no longer judged as they used to be” but that doesn’t make what you’re saying true. At all.

Yes, they’ve become a lot more mainstream, that I won’t deny, but more accepted? Now I’m not talking about high school and people throwing shit your way just because you like video games, no that isn’t what this is about.

I’m talking about how if you go, “oh, I’ve got to do this thing,” and that thing ends up being video games – you’re already thrown into a pile that I’ll call ‘Stereotypes’ without even being informed of the decision.

Stereotypes

Violent, lazy, ignorant and probably living in your mom’s basement. Right?

I won’t flatter myself by saying I’m the first to write about this problem, and I most certainly won’t be the last, but, as time goes on things change – including stereotypes that are issued against gamers throughout the world.

So let’s start with the elephant in the room: violence in video games can trigger, you’ve guessed it, a violent reaction in the people playing them, particularly children. Now there’s no denying that in some cases, yeah, this happens. It sounds dismissive, but I’m 100% vocal when I say that committing crimes cannot be solely blamed on games and the people that make them. Video games are becoming more and more realistic, yes, but let’s not pretend that their purpose is to incite radical violence in the young minds that play them.

And, well, if you’d like to argue that ‘at least with books there is less of a chance children are going to fall into a violent cycle…’ Then all I can say is you’ve clearly not been paying attention in your history lessons about World War 2.

To put it simply: violence is an issue that is dependant on the person who’s playing the game.  For example, if a young child is playing a game that isn’t suited for them, blame should be not laid at the feet of the developers.

It really is that simple.

Addiction

Addiction - Hard Truths

Yes, yes. I’ve read the news lately.

“Let’s romanticize video games,” I say, reading this article about how addiction to video games has recently been diagnosed as a disorder. ‘Sure,’ you’re probably thinking, moving your mouse to click the heck outta here.

But, hear me out: this article is solely about the perception of video games in society. Addiction is a very important topic when it comes to video games, especially considering the stories that have cropped up on the internet about microtransactions. This one, in particular, is enough to make anyone’s blood turn to ice.

So what am I getting at here? Why should we romanticize video games when they can lead to such terrible things as addiction and debt?

Because there isn’t much in the world today that doesn’t have the potential to become an addiction, and yes, that includes reading. Though as I’ve been saying all throughout this article, the perception of a reading addiction and a gaming one is seen as two very different things. A reading addiction is seen as a ironic, somewhat humorous quirk of a person. Nobody is thought of badly for reading a lot – if anything you’re seen as rather intelligent and informative. But this isn’t the case, or at least, like gaming addiction, it has the potential to be something a lot more severe than just reading a few books each week.

Addiction is forever changing in its form. Today it is video games, tomorrow it may be books…Yet what both have in common is something very inspiring.

New Worlds

Romanticize Video Games

See what I did there?

Escapism is a beautiful thing and everyone, absolutely everyone, has their demons that occasionally they need to take a break from in order to make things seem that little bit more bearable.

Books are great at that. A lot of times on the internet you’ll see those ‘self-help’ articles that’ll list a few things to help calm you down if you’re feeling stressed. A lot of those times books are involved, usually the first thing that’s mentioned actually. Curl up and read a book, find yourself a nice, little corner where it’s quiet and get lost in the world that is in those crisp pages. Immerse yourself in it and lose track of time and the world around you.

Video games aren’t given that kind of flowery, positive vibe you see with books and to be frank, it boggles my mind on why that is. Stereotypes aside, what evidence is there that a person can’t find themselves enjoying and relaxing with video games the same way as people do with books? Why not burrow in some blankets after a long day at work and play some Lost Legacy for an hour or two?  You’ve had a stressful day? Go and sit down on the couch and play some Zelda for a while. Kids are gone with their grandparents for the day and you just want some downtime? Startup that PC, it’s time to play some Fable! Get lost in these worlds on rainy days (heck, sunny days if you want to) and become the protagonist of this world, if you want to be. You’re in control, after all.

Obviously, I don’t agree with letting it affect your health, but that’s an article for another time, even if I’ve talked about it here briefly.

Most importantly though: There is nothing stopping you, yes you, from romanticizing video games. Perception of video games is still playing catch up, sure, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying video games. Or worse, feel bad about enjoying them. Everyone is different and if anything should be celebrated, individuality is it.


Got an opinion on this feature? Let me know in the comments below!

Aimee Hart
When not sleeping (which is...a lot of the time), Aimee is writing up a storm for her latest ideas. Hailing from the city Birmingham, she's had a love for video games since playing Star Wars Episode 1: Racer on the PC with her trusty joystick! Since then she's developed a firm love for RPGs and JRPGs and considers them her second love, straight after dogs. Her favourite games are: Tales of Berseria, Dragon Age II (don't judge!), Final Fantasy X and Pyre. You can hear her ramble about them @honhonitsaimee on Twitter.
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