Video games: the best/worst popular medium?

This is really just a short note, and something I’ve been reflecting on ever since I saw the news that video games, as a global industry, were topping other forms of mass media in dollars per year. And yes, video games most definitely qualify for the mass media tag.

Despite the obvious popularity of the medium, and profitability, video games still have the air of being a waste of time. This observation is my own unscientific opinion, and I didn’t do any research at all to write this post. However, as a librarian, I constantly hear people, meaning grown-ups, complain about kids playing video games instead of reading books. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single adult laud kids for playing video games.

Even though I’m much older than when I had my very first console, I still remember people ridiculing video games. There was even a parody song called, I’m Addicted to Nintendo. A lot of the things people were saying decades ago are still common complaints.

Consider also that there are studies discussing and debating whether or not video games are bad for kids, make them violent, or whatever. Do a search in Google for “Do Violent Video Games Cause Violence?” You’ll get links to scholarly research, news articles, blog posts, and more. Then again, Minecraft is more and more popular in schools and can be used with learning and healthy screen time (Education Week, Oct. 5, 2021), so…there’s really no consensus.

Additionally, you don’t see video games getting the red carpet treatment. Sony isn’t at the Academy Awards, and international film festivals. Nor are Nintendo, Microsoft, or any other player in the industry. They ARE at comic book conventions, and other fringe cultural events. (Don’t believe me? have look at the link from San Diego Comic Con. The programming carries all kinds of gaming goodies, including video games.) This is a reason video games have a home on this blog.

Despite what the nay-sayers offer as opinions, the medium is an economic force to be reckoned with. This is an undisputable fact. Whatever your stake is regarding the value of video games, at the end of the day they make money. Like, piles and piles of money. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Part of that has certainly been fueled by everyone having to stay away from one another more than in the past because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t explain the industry’s growth over the last four or five decades.

Even though video games comprise one of the most popular forms of media in the world, they do not receive accolades that reflect that status. Instead, they are are a polarizing past-time with some loving them, and others absolutely loathing them. Video games might very well be the best/worst medium in existence. It’s like in quantum physics where something can occupy multiple places simultaneously, and video games occupy both positions of approval and disapproval at the same time. See, public opinion can do what science can’t!

I have no shame in saying that I’m a fan. I grew up playing video games more than my family probably wanted me to, and still make time to indulge them as an adult. Over the years I’ve slowly collected a library of video games. That assemblage of electronic fun will be discussed on this site. This is all to say that games are great, in all their various incarnations.

*The above image was taken from a 2015 TechCrunch article.






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