2 months ago when the Zoe Post was published, I wasn’t reading a huge amount of gaming media as I suckled almost exclusively from the breast of Nintendo. Once the Quinnspiracy was over, I and many others believed that would be the end of it. Then recently, I saw my partner reading a GamerGate forum and thought “Is that not over yet?” I was soon to realise how NOT over it was when GamerGate articles and coverage exploded into the mainstream media everywhere from The Guardian to MSNBC. I was wracked with curiosity as to why this thing just wouldn’t die like everyone predicted it would. Why has GamerGate controversy continued when so many other similar campaigns faded into nothing? And then I remembered it’s because everyone involved is a gamer.
For those of you who haven’t seen Jane McGonigal’s talk on why gamers are such special, amazing people I urge you to watch below.
You may have already heard of the notion that 10,000 hours of thoughtful study in any area makes you an expert in that field. This can be anything from speaking a language, to playing the guitar, and even video games. Now, I know I’m not the only one who spent more than 10,000 hours in just Sonic 2’s Death Egg Zone alone in my life, and McGonigal’s research suggests that playing video games like it’s a part-time job, lends you at being a expert in more than just kicking Robotnik’s ass. Playing World of Warcraft more than you care about your real life job not only teaches you how to slay a dragon, but several other key skills that make you an amazing person in real life too.
Most games, level challenges with your current skill level. While missions may be challenging and right at the edge of what is achievable, we are aware that if the task has been set of us, it is feasible. Gamers take this extreme self-motivation and belief that any task comes with a reasonable chance of success with them into real life, and so attempt and therefore succeed at more difficult problems. McGonigal labels this skill “Urgent Optimism”.
Gaming is often painted to be a solitary hobby but research indicates it is quite the opposite. When playing co-op or multiplayer and in particular in strategy games such as Diplomacy, it is important to delegate a level of trust into your fellow players with shared values. Gaming with others actually strengthens social fabrics beyond that of other collective or group activities.
People are happiest when they can visualise achievements. Studies suggest that people in fact are happier when they are put to work than when they are at rest, as long as they can see positive results. Gamers are experts at this kind of blissful productivity, and when given a task they enjoy will put endless hours into tackling it.
Much like the previously mentioned dragon slaying, Gamers love tasks with an epic meaning. Basically the bigger and more super human the task the more likely a gamer is to set their sights on it. This obviously has huge real life impact, and those who have this skill are more likely to go after problems that others find unsolvable, whether this is world peace, feeding the hungry or taking down the mainstream media.
On top of this I would like to point to something I have seen in the gaming community: Inclusivity. Gamers tend to be the most inclusive group of people I have ever met, due to the fact that we were all outsiders ourselves. While I may seem self-confident now, I was that awkward, chubby girl in high school who everyone thought was funny but ultimately a bit weird. I dropped out of school three times, I became anorexic, I was desperate to fit in, but I did not. Everyone thought I didn’t care what others thought, but really I was desperate for their approval.
I know I’m not the only one. Just how semi-professional Smash player MilkTea felt excluded by many others for her race, or YouTuber Boogie for his weight, we all found solace in video games, and the gaming community. The gaming community is a rare one in that anyone can join, as long as you share a singular hobby.
In conclusion, Gamers believe they can succeed, Gamers trust, Gamers are happiest when they achieve, Gamers love tackling epic tasks, and Gamers will allow anyone who wishes to, join them on their crusade. In other words, Gamers are experts at being awesome, and we can solve the world’s problems, if you just give us time.