Every few years, the gaming industry gets raked over the coals for a few weeks when some crazy moron starts firing his gun at a crowd full of people. Many of us remember tragedies like the Columbine shooting and, more recently, the shooting at a Colorado movie theater.
However, even though it seems like such a reasonable connection (violent video games = violent gamers) this has repeatedly shown to be entirely false. No scientific study has ever been able to link video game violence with actual violence. In fact, youth violence is currently enjoying a 40 year low, while video game sales are at an all-time high.
So, you do the math.
A few years ago, Roger Ebert wrote a short essay titled "Video games can never be art." In it, like the title indicates, he attempted to make the case that video games will never be able to achieve true artistic status. The article drew so much criticism that he was eventually forced to rebut his own position the following year (after 4,547 people commented on the original).
"I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place," Ebert wrote. "I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen."
The problem with that argument is the same problem that plagues all artistic debate; how do you define art? It was easy for Ebert to claim that video games can never be an art form because he draws his boundaries differently than you and I.
I'm the kind of person who could listen to the Legend of Zelda soundtrack on repeat for hours, and would be happy to hang a picture of Doctor Wily's castle above my fireplace. And, even if these are silly personal quirks, anyone who's sat down with ICO or Shadow of the Colossus couldn't possibly agree with Ebert's original post.
Granted, in the past, the gamer community has been primarily populated with greasy dudes, but that number has shifted drastically over the last several years. According to the ESA, roughly 48% of gamers lack the necessary equipment to pee standing up.
Actually, several days ago, I spoke to a classroom of game development students in Minnesota, and I was surprised to find that the chicks outnumbered the dudes 3 to 1.
Thank God things are changing. LAN parties used to be sausage fests.