When will video gamers use their power for good?
Being a part of video game culture can be a frustrating exercise. That culture is defined primarily by the magazines, websites, television programs and social events aimed at “gamers,” but even the term "gamer" can be exclusionary; many members of the video game audience reject the notion that people who only play video games on Facebook, smartphones, or tablets could also be gamers, because those other groups don’t primarily gorge on the Hollywood blockbuster, kinesthetic smorgasbords on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 or Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game hardware. Rather than welcome these new video game audiences on social media and smart devices, too many video game players would rather thumb their noses at people who don’t fit a long-held, narrow self-definition.
Video game culture is neither friendly nor accessible to outsiders. It stodgily resists social change and thus continues to relegate gaming as an eccentric hobby within the confines of geek society. And yet the video game public can be extremely powerful when they rally around topics they have communally decided are important. This week they brought one of the most monolithic companies in the world, Microsoft, to its knees through weeks of collective outcry over anti-consumer policies.