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As I’m forced to point out from time to time, nobody complains about hours wasted on recreation like watching sports (and reading about sports, and talking about sports, and dreaming …) or watching TV. Many responsible adults devote entire weekends to such activities but are not thought childish or lazy for it.
Affluence has enabled people to regain the abundant time for leisure that primitive hunters enjoyed before the rise of agrarian and industrial societies. In our society, video games are a normal activity of Generation X — respectable in moderation — but have yet to gain the respectability of being practiced by elders.
Yes, there remains a stigma, in some settings, against happily admitting one plays video games (or “interactive media,” as many developers prefer, to indicate the inclusion of serious themes). But that’s not why no avid gamer will be elected to high public office anytime soon.
The real reason is quotes like these, so easily misunderstood if pulled from an old Facebook or Twitter post by some unscrupulous campaign reporter and shared without context:
“I’ve got a date tonight with a Big Daddy!” (Bioshock)
“I took his head off with my chainsaw!” (Gears of War, Dead Rising, Dying Light)
“I must have killed twenty sunflowers last night.” (Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare)
“Diablo is awesome!” (Diablo 3)
To our non-gamer friends: These aren’t quotes from games, but rather the sort of things gamers might say while playing those games. A Big Daddy, for example, is a particularly ominous enemy in the popular dystopian thriller Bioshock.
And yes, this post is thoroughly tongue-in-cheek. C’mon, fellow gamers! Add your own. What might you say in reference to a video game that could be damning if separated from its context? Be brave!
P.S. The reason so many video games involve shooting and hitting things is because that’s much, much easier to simulate in fun and surprising ways than challenges that rely on language such s diplomacy and persuasion. Action gameplay is also less labor-intensive than conversation for developers to multiply into hours upon hours of content. Exploration-oriented gameplay is becoming more common now that emerging technologies have enabled easier, faster, and more compelling production of settings and experiences. And companies like Bioware have made considerable progress in streamlining production of conversation-based gameplay.