Games in Culture
I’m not a guy, but I have lots of male gamer friends. My experiences amongst them have taught me they like games that are fast paced, action packed, and trigger happy. The constant stimulation and reaction type responses are valued as much as coordination and precision. Most games on the market for guys are the kind of thing you can sit down with a bunch of friends and battle it out. Sports and fighting games dominate the top of the charts tend to be the kind of games you can play the whole way through in a matter of minutes or hours. Most popular male games have lots of graphic violence, high pitched sound effects, and portray women in a sexual nature. They focus on complex combinations of buttons and buttons sequences and ranking up level after level.
Does this reflect the mindset in our patriarchal society? Are men driven towards quick relief, fast responses and sessions of intense violence? Crime ratings in men tend to be highest with sex offenders and extremely violent offenders being predominantly male. If video games are a reflection of our society as it stands now, the picture being painted is one twisted looking Van Gogh.
My inferences here come from my own personal preferences and the trends I see in young girls on my gaming websites. Growing up I found the games for female audiences sorely lacking: under-developed, under-budget atrocities with Barbie brands on their pink-petaled covers. These games use few buttons for movement, and lots of bright colors and “happy” gag-me sounds. In fact, the games becoming popular among girls and women are role playing, MMO and strategy games. Games dealing with community and society and God gameplay. These games seem to accurately represent the more social relationships between girls and women.
Does this reflect a growing consciousness in women? Once the underdogs of society you see more and more prominent figures cropping up every year. In fact, the changing attitudes in games marketed for women seem to reflect this — Barbie Super Sleuth to the Sims 2 and the new family centered Wii games.
Games as a Lifestyle
Come on now, let’s just step right out and say it. The more time and money we spend invested in video games the more they reflect our culture. What was once a form of entertainment has become a bona fide way of expression and in some ways an art form. Will the continuing trends in video games run parallel to the changing attitudes and perspectives of a nation as they seem to be now or will the road split and follow another path? With systems like the Wii and the more immersive gameplay being introduced my prediction is things are only going to converge.
Say bye bye to the TV and hello to the virtual world you can step into dressed like your favorite second life character. Wave your hand in your living room and watch as you construct a house in the middle of the forest on a different continent. Visit a dance club in Hong Kong while you bust a move in front of your bedroom window. Earn a living playing video games, go to the Halo Olympics or drive a car at high speeds from your couch.
Games as the Future
Who ever thought you could drive a motorized vehicle at speeds or over 100mph or cook an entire dinner in under a few minutes in a small heated box? Games are an expression of where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we’re going to be. The explore our creativity to the far ends of human possibility and continue to push and probe ever deeper. As we live and learn, are born and die, our games are molded and shaped by the hands of time and the inquisitive mind of technology.
Our culture, our games are a box overflowing with possibilities. All we have to do is step outside.