Breaking into the Mainstream

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Benjamin Burger has watched the episode titled Addicted to Games? of the BBC series Panorama, and is not exactly happy about it (as have been other people, as I could watch on Twitter):

Unfortunately the report was not satisfying at all. It was like looking for an intelligent crime story and ending up with CSI Miami. The whole show was just a show. […] Panorama simplifies the Game-Scene to problem-kids and how they corrupting their family or social life.

Of course, the journalism is bad, the conclusions hackneyed – but it shows mostly one thing: games do make their way into (mainstream) culture, and just as with any new medium (like radio or TV or films or pop music, to name just a few), they are met with resistance and fear from the current generation that has not been socialised with that new medium. Even more so with games. After all,

[it’s] a tremendous difference between watching games or playing them,

and that makes it even more scary.

No one denies that games can be addictive, and no one denies that games may be built upon such mechanics – but then again, even most board games use those mechanics, and no one complains.

The same goes with alcoholic beverages: obviously, it can be addictive; yet the times when politicians demanded a complete crackdown are long gone. It is assumed that most people can deal with alcohol (at least after reaching a certain age), and that the ones that cannot are clearly dysfunctional in other ways as well.

Politicians (yes, I’m looking at you, Mr Näf) that want to prohibit everyone from playing computer games should rather invest their time in educating people and battling the causes that lead people to get addicted to games. Maybe you should be glad they are just addicted to games and not to alcohol or drugs?

Computer Games seem in those cases only the way with the slightest resistance to some joy. Regarding that online-games promising an endless fun-to-play through changing conditions and teammates, the choice to a “funny world” isn’t very surprising.

It will take time until people will understand that, and it will take more time until games are firmly and accepted part of our culture. Until then, we will have to put up with programs that

used the false-pretense of “investigative-journalism” to fire against a generation they obviously not understand.