I always maintain that knowledge is power, but maybe gaming is less of a niche than it originally was. The industry is now far more mainstream than at any other point in history. Long gone are the days of bedroom teenage programmers, violence seeking Mortal Kombat enthusiasts and the 14-hour a day World of Warcraft players. Now the market is so much more diverse.
Don’t get me wrong, these fractions of the gaming demographic still exist, but now there are so many more people (and more importantly, different classes of people) playing video games. Today, it is not uncommon for the very young and the very old to get involved. Now, it doesn’t seem so strange for your Mother to sit down for a session on Brain Training or 1-2-Switch.
For decades these markets existed relatively untapped, but currently, gaming has become accessible for anyone and everyone.
This has got me thinking about where the medium stands in society. Lest we forget the controversial Alan Titchmarsh show debate that enraged many for varying reasons. One side buying into Julie Peasgood’s evocative anti-gaming rally, the other feeling angered by a certain lack of awareness and understanding of video games.
Yet now we have a BAFTA awards ceremony for video games, a pastime, that has brought joy to millions. The industry makes more money than music and films combined. The Halo franchise brings in more revenue than Harry Potter. It is a hugely profitable, and now widely accepted digital nirvana.
So I don’t think parents are particularly dumbfounded so to speak, but it can be easy for those who don’t play to have certain misconceptions about the industry, especially when misinformation is circulated.
I like to look at video games in the same way I view films. I genuinely believe there is something for everyone. Yes, you can criticise violent or adult themed games, in the same way, you could criticise violent movies. And I am 100% behind not letting 18 rated titles fall into the hands of children, in the same way as I am with an age restricted DVD. But it’s a partnership here.
When it happens and it will (kids are notoriously good at disobeying the rules), it is simply no good to point the finger. We all need to take a share of the responsibility and be as aware of gaming as we are with music, TV and film.