Time, you screwed up big time.
Gaming used to be a niche hobby when it was introduced over three decades ago. But now, the industry is a behemoth that over 1.2 billion people support worldwide. Yet, no matter how popular gaming is and the progress we make as a society in accepting gaming culture, we still have media outlets like Time perpetuating gamer stereotypes that are not relevant and ridiculously outdated.
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me provide some context for what I’m talking about by taking a look at Time’s front page story on virtual reality:
Upon seeing this cover, my initial reaction was to burst out laughing. I know it’s hard to make virtual reality look cool, but is making Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey jump awkwardly around a beach really the solution to that problem? But don’t worry, it gets worse! The text itself makes the whole gaming community seem like a complete joke:
Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift, is not your typical nerd…He’s cheery and talks in normal sentences that are easy to understand. He was home schooled, and though he did drop out of college, it was California State University, Long Beach, where he was majoring not in computer science but in journalism. He prefers shorts, and his feet are black because he doesn’t like wearing shoes, even outdoors. He doesn’t look like a guy who played Dungeons & Dragons so much as a character in Dungeons & Dragons. He’s a nerd from a different century, working on the problems of a different century.
Yup, you heard that right! Consider yourself a gamer? Enjoy playing Nintendo games like everyone else here on Nintendojo? Well, don’t even bother writing a comment to this post because Time doubts that you’d be able to write in normal sentences that are easy to understand!
Unfortunately, these kinds of comments are nothing new to me. A year ago, I wrote a post on this site explaining that I hate the negative connotations associated with the word gamer because I don’t want the community to be stereotyped. I was proud to see our users commenting on how they love to use the word and try to own it, but as long as the media and the general population continue to spew out this kind of garbage, the stereotype will always exist. The fact that someone published this Time article in the present is a perfect example of how these negative connotations have persisted over time. It’s a weird paradox: video games have become a bigger industry than film and music combined, but we still have ignorant people putting labels on the gaming community.
However, in this particular case, it’s not just gamers that are under fire. Time also made blanket statements about nerds as a whole, putting Luckey on a pedestal for being a so-called normal person within the label it has given him. The irony is that Luckey isn’t an exception to this label and is instead a representation of how “nerds” really are. I know this may be hard for Time to understand, but we don’t all live in our parent’s basement and have no lives. We’re regular, ordinary human beings.
Time’s cover is absolutely hilarious and I love that people are sharing it on the Internet, but I hope that the text of the article gets some spotlight as well. I don’t want this to be something that we just shrug off and forget until the next time the media stereotypes us again. Instead, I hope that this generates a discussion and gets people talking. The more people that talk about this, the closer we can get to having our interests accepted by the general population.