“GaMe OvER:” Digitalizing Religion in Video Gaming
jessica seegobin
11

The Media Gaze of Video Games

Video games are also subject to representation and gazes

Games are constructed by the production team. Religious implications are at their discretion. In a sense they are offering up to the gaming community what they feel with help the game be successful and stand out. But the producers of video games are also on the opposite end on the ‘stick’ of representation. Many times, the general public’s view and opinion of video games is influenced by the media. It’s a very touchy and eye catching topic, where news media is constantly trying to relate video games to social issues, simply because video games are heavily consumed by today’s youth as well as adults, and it sells as a good story.

Much like how Hollywood, as well as today’s post 9–11 media, have more often than not represented the Middle East negatively, the same selective, intentional representation exists for video games. News articles such as this irresponsibly try to connect video games to events happening in the news. The connection exists, no doubt, but it is not fair to explain a factor as the main cause. The Entertainment Software Association (ESO), which gathers demographic formation about gaming every year, reported that 51% of American household own a video gaming console [1]. 51% of people are no violent criminals.

GTA San Andreas, a game often linked with crime and violence, sold about 9 million copies less than Super Mario Bros., a family friendly game [2]

The fact is that video games, much like other forms of entertainment is only gated behind having to purchase it to consume it. With such a simple threshold, its not surprise some gaming companies invest heavily into advertising and celebrity endorsements to increase the appeal of their game. The same way action movies are easier to sell, action games, with general themes of violence are more marketable, giving them a higher level of visibility in the main stream.

Visibility is everything in today’s entertainment landscape. The highest grossing films are not necessarily the Oscar Winners, and similarly, the games people are most familiar with do not necessarily reflect accuracy the gaming landscape. Below is a chart from the ESO which highlights the distribution of game genres based on sales.

From the 2014 ESA Report http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2014.pdf

Shooter and Action games compromise 51.9% of the games, hardly representative of what you would typically hear in the media where violent games, are always a common topic when discussing events related to youth. The ESA report also discusses age demographics. Only 29% of gamers were under 18, with the average age of game players is 31. People are involved in many things. Trying to isolate this one thing as a problem, as the new often does, is the gaze they construct, with selective facts, and out of context information.

Like every consumable of popular culture, the deconstruction by the consumer is significant. The same way we watch a film with themes of crime or substance abuse, and are able to take a way the message of the director, the narrative of gaming culture presented by news media must be deconstructed properly. It is true that game players may deconstruct the games they play incorrectly, taking away negative messages, but it’s just one example of what happens. We are given gazes to look at things, and generally it tells you more about the constructor of the gaze than what you are viewing.

Resources Cited

[1] ESA 2014 Sales, Demographics, and Usage Data http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2014.pdf

[2] VGChartz Game Database

http://www.vgchartz.com/game/3427/grand-theft-auto-san-andreas/

http://www.vgchartz.com/game/1582/new-super-mario-bros/

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