The video below was circulated around the Lazygamer office a couple of days ago. It depicts The Guardian’s Charlie Brooker trying to make Channel 4’s Jon Snow understand Marvel: Lego and Call Of Duty: Ghosts. It doesn’t go well for Brooker, not that I was expecting it to. It becomes apparent the more you watch it that Snow was being deliberately contrarian in order to get a rise out of Brooker. Snow says some awful things about games not having a female audience, among many other stupid things that made me think he’s friends with Jack Thompson, and it just made me angry by the end of it.
An argument could be made for Brooker’s heavy handedness during the slot, but I think he handled himself rather well considering Snow’s baiting comments. Let me preface this article by saying that I don’t blame Snow for being ignorant about the video game industry, but the encounter with Brooker made it clear to me that you cannot turn people on to gaming.
Gaming isn’t at that point yet where it has a reputation like for example fine art and film do. If I tell people that I’m a games journalist, they either laugh or didn’t even know that was a thing. The industry is so young that it has little reputation with those who aren’t already involved with it. If you’re a film, music or art critic, even to the most oblivious person, the response will be different. “Oh wow, that’s an industry, that exists. How prestigious.”. When you do try and explain games and the gaming industry to people, they are either dismissed as toys for children, or that thing that made teenagers shoot up a school.
But like films, music and art, games are self discovered. You can’t make a 66 year old man like Jon Snow play video games. You can’t tell him it’s a progressive medium and there are really interesting things happening in the indie scene. Because unless you do the independent research and discovery, you only have what popular media tells people, which is generalised and very rarely positive. I don’t know about the Lazygamer readers, but the only reason I still play games is because I went out and looked for them. Growing up with them isn’t enough, you have to actively seek out games and the community around it.
I know how it sounds too. “Ooh, look how niche I am with the things I’m into that you wouldn’t know about!” The truth is that every artful medium is unknown to someone. I wouldn’t know the first thing about fine art other than “Ooh, pretty pictures!” in the same way someone outside of the video game world would be like “Violence! Teenagers! Think of the children!” If I were Charlie Brooker, I would just let video games show themselves off rather than trying to dazzle someone like Jon Snow who has already made up their mind, not even just for the exposure it would give you and your industry. Having an appreciation for the games that you find special is all well and good, but you cannot force people to become gamers.
Last Updated: December 5, 2013