1.31.2009

"Control the Media...."

"...control the mind." That highly accurate quote was uttered by Command and Conquer's infamous villain CABAL in one of the games first villain missions. And for a reason, the objective of that mission was to capture a television station and use the media to manipulate the public mindset.

Unfortunately, that line of reasoning is one that doesn't stem from the mind of a developer. No, the fact that media can adjust much of the public's thought and opinion on certain topics is a commonly known fact, one heavily evidenced by history.

So, that being said, lets look at the commercial media's viewpoint on video games. When video games of any kind do appear in the news, quite often the media paints them with a negative brush, blaming them on violent behavior, drug use, or the latest claiming that gamers are social recluses.

Those of you who are not gamers, know that just like any other social group, if there is a negative side to our hobby, it is a minority group. But the media often leaves this out. Even movies tend to often reinforce this negative stereotype of gamers and their hobby, portraying them as anti-social recluses or high school dropouts and middle school truants.

First of all, a quick Internet search will turn up numerous large, respectable studies that find the opposite of the common media portrayal stereotype. Quite simply, most gaming news reported by media is quite often misstated, twisted, or often just flat out untrue. If any of you would like to see an example of this, try looking up and reading the research next time the news runs another article about some gaming topic. You might be surprised at what you find. A great example of a infamous media falsehood was Fox News Microsoft "SexBox" report panel, which was hideously embarrassing for Fox except for the fact that they never retracted their statements despite the complete falsehood of their report, and thus left many viewers none the wiser to their untruths.

So why such a negative position against video games? The answer is money. As video games have quickly risen to the position of one of the largest entertainment industries in the US, and are poised to completely eclipse other forms of entertainment, such as movies, in the next few years (Source), thus cutting even deeper into their profits then they already have. So what the (for now) "main-stream" media is fighting like a politician: Mud-sling the opposition in hopes that someone listens and believes them. Control the mind indeed.

Fortunately, despite the negative media position, the video game industry has continued to grow by leaps and bounds.

Sounds like the public opinion is slowly speaking.

2 comments:

Time Enforcer Anubis said...

Well said, and, while it is my opinion that Fox News is terrible anyway, such is the cycle of(relatively) new forms of media. Once the next big step in media comes about, no doubt Fox News will be all over that with their based-on-not-remotely-correct-information garbage.

What I find ironic is how the media was up in arms about Manhunt 2 when SAW IV had just come out. It's hypocritical, really. They don't understand gaming or gamers, but don't want to admit it.

Hehe, I think independent gaming bloggers might just be better journalists than Fox.

Bobby Memphis said...

Yes, FoxNews painting a picture of negative media is just the best example of the pot calling the kettle black. If I recall, right under the headline section of foxnews.com, there is an entertainment section--most often filled with links to pictures of scandalous celebrities.

But yes, I think that society has portrayed gamers negatively. It's just always the case--a few hundred years ago, people who read books and thought about going off to college were considered "wistful daydreamers" and encouraged to do something that was actually useful. Each medium meets resistance, but each also has great potential for creative, entertaining expression.