Mainstream Media Vilification
For a while it seemed impossible – the Mass Effect “Se-xbox” segment on Fox News set a high bar in 2008 – but the vilification lust that’s permeated the mainstream media’s coverage of video games since the days of Doom and Mortal Kombat has curtailed in recent years. We still see the ignorant rushes to judgment, the good-old fashioned parenting scare stories after the “Animal Crackers Might Cause Cancer” headlines run dry. But it’s beyond recent memory that we’ve had a genuine debate about games as the scourge the younger generation, the one medium – more so than movies, TV, music, or literature – that dragoons our youth into a violent, sociopathic lifestyle.
And quite frankly, that’s because no one really goes there anymore. The last recent chance to venture outside those confines of logic – 2011’s tragic terrorist shootings in Norway, where the shooter, Anders Behring Breivik, was found to be an avid WarCraft and Call of Duty player – witnessed an amazingly minute backlash against video game violence. The focus, mercifully, remained on mourning the 77 deceased victims and seeking justice in the court of law – but imagine if such a thing happened in, say, 2005, before publicity chaser Jack Thompson was disbarred by the state of Florida.
There’s a larger point to be made here: Video games are growing in our collective cultural conscience; the individuals covering them for national news outlets have a good chance of being gamers themselves. At this rate, it won’t even be long before we update those “gamer” stock photos showing eight-year-olds playing PlayStation in a prison-cell-sized room, pupils dilated and drool reaching the floor. The sepia may still be en vogue, but stereotypes aren’t.