A creature of basement-banished isolation, their faces a contorted cross between Jon Heder and two kilos of silly putty, with skin the colour and texture of a peeled achacha. That is what most people will have you believe is an apt description of the average gamer – a being so out of touch with reality that their only escape from the terrors of social interaction is to take refuge in the sweet embrace of a virtual space. Though even more hand-clammily terrifying is the gaming community’s absolute lack of interest in a much needed reconstruction of our self-image.
The announcement of Nintendo’s latest venture into the wide, wobbly world of fitness coupled with Xbox’s newest fat-fighting feature Xbox Fitness showed me that the gaming industry is expanding. They’re using their knowledge of entertainment to create a new exciting experience, catered to a whole new demographic. Seeing these rippling, energetic bodies plastered in their advertisements stirred some strong feelings in me: firstly that I was a piece of shit, and secondly that I was confused as to why I wasn’t excited about these two new gaming ventures into self-help.
After three hours standing in front of a mirror naked mainlining tequila and Chunky Monkey (or as I like to call it “Friday night”), I found the answer. Gamers have strengthened this notion of being lazy, unmotivated couch-dwellers by the mere action of not giving a shit. By simply embracing a life of indifference you become the thing that you once tried to distance yourself from, stumbling and slipping into negative stereotypes.
It’s stupendous how significant the act of not caring can be and the negative impact it can have on your life. If you stop caring about relationships you lose your partner, if you stop caring about bills you lose your house, if you stop caring about yourself you lose your will to live. Once that happens, you give others the opportunity to define who you are and you lose your sense of individuality. But in a culture that embraces and idolises our descent into an apathetic stupor, it’s easy to say “Who cares about caring?”
At VGX this year, Spike TV’s swing-and-miss video game award show, we were graced by Community star Joel McHale’s poorly aimed jokes and non-committal attitude. Now don’t get me wrong, Joel McHale is an excellent comedian with the torso of a young Lou Ferrigno and a face the shape of an unused shovel, and though he may have been going for ‘quirky jabs’ at his audience, they came out as brazen insults. I’m well aware that the VGX are the biggest insult to gaming since Shaq-Fu, but it’s just another example of the negative way gamers are perceived and portrayed in society.
We all know that gamers aren’t amorphous, fleshy beanbags with an ignorance of social queues on par with that of a five-year-old at a funeral. Still, all the negative reactions towards the gaming industry’s collective focus on health-based entertainment and gaming is troubling.
In a culture where ridicule is ripe and a self-reflective attitude isn’t anywhere to be seen, the motion should be to embrace these changes. The gaming community needs to start caring about themselves before they worry about others, because this is our passion and we should have nothing but pride in an industry that has evolved in leaps and bounds.