Video games have been in existence for a few decades now. Millions if not billions of people all over the world have played at least one game in their lifetime. The gaming industry today is worth billions upon billions of dollars. Indeed, gaming is a very big deal. Yet, there’s still a stigma attached to it that can’t seem to go away: ‘games are for kids and adults that play them are weird’. Will this mindset ever be fully changed?
To answer this question, first, we need to establish why it exists in the first place. I already mentioned that gaming has been around for a few decades, but it’s still a relatively ‘new’ thing. How so? Well, compare it to other forms of entertainment like film, music, and literature. The film and recorded music industries have been around for more than a century. Literature is, of course, has been in existence for millennia. The earliest form of a video game can be traced back to 1958’s Tennis for Two created by physicist William Higinbotham. At the time of this writing, that was just shy of 60 years ago. There are obviously quite a number of folks who are 60+ years old, which means that there are people alive right now that existed before the first video game was ever created. If you switch the timeline to around the period when gaming started truly becoming popular (around the 70-80s), that’s still only 30-40+ years ago; not that long ago when you really think about it.
So, we’ve established that gaming is still ‘young’. But, what does that have to do with the stigma? Well, that ties right back to the point I just made. Back in the early days of the industry, video games were targeted mostly at kids. Developers and console makers only started trying to appeal to older crowds around the late 80s-early 90s. The reason for that is because people who were kids when gaming first came around were now entering adulthood. Eventually, they started having kids, and that more or less brings us to the teenage-young adult gamers of today. See how small the timeline is? This is why the ‘gaming is for kids’ stigma has managed to stick around to this day.
Even though the gaming world is more diverse than ever before, there will continue to be folks who hang onto that stigma. For some reason, playing a video game is just seen as something ‘childish’, even though it’s really no different than sitting down and watching a movie/TV show, listening to some music or reading a good book. It’s just another form of entertainment. But, the generation prior to gaming and the one that grew up with it when it was in its infancy is still around. This stigma will probably only go away when the newer generations grow up and those older ones fade away. Kids who grew up in the late 90s onwards are the ones who’ve come about at a time when the ‘age of computers’ is quite prevalent all over the world. This digital world has only recently truly become the norm. That includes things like video games which of course are now bigger than ever.
Video games are quite new compared to other forms of modern entertainment. It will take some more time before it’s fully accepted like these are.
Ironically, it’s been proven time and again that adults make up the biggest percentage of players. Specifically, males in their 30s are the biggest demographic (see here and here). It makes sense; they’re the ones that have the money to support a hobby like gaming. As I’m sure we all know, being a gamer isn’t cheap. It takes a lot to be a gamer on a low budget. This isn’t like collecting shells from beach or bottle caps, or being a bird watcher.
The hardware along with the games themselves are all very pricey. There’s also the fact that you also need to supply electricity and an Internet connection, which are separate bills from just all the gaming-related stuff. Kids and teens who are still relying on their parents have the most time to game, but not the income. But, there’s still the fact that most adults who have the money to support their gaming hobby don’t have the time. It’s an interesting situation, but there’s clearly an adult demographic out there who’s been able to balance things out.
There really isn’t anything wrong with enjoying a wholesome game, regardless of what age anyone is. It’s rather weird that there people who still refuse to see them as anything but a toy. Considering the fact that mobile games have become popular amongst every demographic, you’d think that people would be more accepting of games as the norm, but we’re still not quite there yet. The industry will still need a few more years to fully mature and come to a point of full acceptance. But, in the meantime, all we gamers have to do is just keep enjoying our passion.
Despite the stigma, I think we can all agree that gaming is awesome!
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.