The minute we think video games have taken a step towards legitimacy and acceptance, the mainstream media holds up its aging hand and with omnipotent authority, proclaims the industry's halt.
We can't get anywhere. The latest instance of this out-of-touch rationalization, where the media desperately attempts to find a scapegoat for society's biggest problems, comes from a CNN editorial by contributor William J. Bennett.
To explain away the decline of male ambition, Bennett decides to point a gnarled finger in the direction of video games. And while we're always open to intelligent, interesting debate considering the possible ills of interactive entertainment (check our chat with Dr. Bartholow concerning violence in games ), this is poorly presented.
The subject matter isn't new, nor is it inaccurate. It's certainly true that women appear to be outstripping men these days. A fantastic article on the topic can be found in The Atlantic; one of this year's covers featured a disturbing title- "The End of Men?" It was a well-researched, well-written article – it's what The Atlantic does – and nowhere in that lengthy piece did I see an accusation that involved video games. Why? It's a gigantic issue and one that involves multiple elements in all stages and phases of society and how we develop.
See, I may have only been with newspapers for a couple years, and my degree is in psychology rather than journalism. In point of fact, my creative writing has always been better than my reporting; it's why I could never write for the New York Times. But if there's one thing I know, it's that you don't extrapolate and draw conclusions from statistics when you're entirely unfamiliar with the context . The only thing we can conclude from saying that 18-34-year-old men play more often than 12-17-year-old boys is just that: they play more (if it's even true). The rest is all assumption based on preconceived and false notions of the hobby.
CNN just lets this happen. It's amazing. The "fall of man" has nothing to do with changing roles in society? How we perceive "normalcy?" The rise of alternative lifestyles? The more liberal belief that the family is overrated and marriage is an antiquated notion? And last I checked, it takes two people to get married and have a family. How exactly does all the blame fall on the men's shoulders? So all the women want marriage and children, and all the men are ignoring them and sitting at home, playing video games? Might the woman's rise in the workforce contribute to their declining interest in marriage and kids?
Really, I'm not much of a journalist. But I'm fairly certain that these are the most important questions, and ones that require a great deal of attention and research to even begin to answer. But instead of even attempting that mammoth task, Bennett decides to bypass all the work and simply find a scapegoat. He locates a few statistics that really don't mean much, flat-out ignores other stats (like the fact that women are gaming more than ever; some studies claiming the gaming population is actually 50% female), and draws far-reaching conclusions with virtually no real foundation.
Yes, gaming and gaming journalism has a long way to go. But if that is the competition, we'll catch up faster than everyone thinks.