When video game journalist Leigh Alexander was growing up, the gaming community was perceived as the typical “teenage boy audience,” and gaming “a very lonely pursuit.”
But that was then, and this is now. Video games are no longer just exclusive, they’re no longer expensive and they’re no longer exclusionary, solitary pursuits.
“I talk to all these friends and people who say, ‘I’m not a gamer, I just play iPhone games,'” she told Ramona. “Or it’s, ‘Oh I don’t play video games, I just play this one 60 hrs a week.'”
The criteria for what qualifies someone as a gamer may need to be redefined. Shouldn’t the accountant spending their lunch break sending requests to Facebook friends to advance in Candy Crush qualify as a gamer? Is the Farmville-addicted stay-at-home mom any less a gamer than her son playing Call of Duty in the basement? Are they not part of a broader gaming community?
Games are far more socially pervasive now, and deserve to have their place in culture critically considered and respected. “They’re giving us a new way to play together, and to socialize and to connect,” said Alexander.
“Technology’s really blowing the doors off of it, making it a less private medium and making it a multiplayer experience. Now everyone is doing it.”
The Nintendo Wii became a staple of many family gatherings, with three generations bonding over virtual bowling and golf. Angry Birds is a cross-cultural phenomenon. And all the while, millions of people continue questing in World of Warcraft, arguably forming the most widely-recognized gaming community in the world.
“They’re integrating with the way that we live our lives as a society and together. They’re becoming less solitary escapism type experiences and more community experiences,” said Alexander.
“I think it’s analogous to the way any community forms on the web – you’re not alone and you bond together and you try and keep growing together.”
Watch Leigh’s interview with Ramona, “Out of the Basement.”