Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Video Games

When I'm not writing, and don't have chores of one kind or another to attend to, I spend most of my time playing video games. Gaming is a big part of my life and I particularly enjoy any context I can find that gives me reason to take a game seriously; one of the things I love about World of Warcraft, for example, is that playing with other people at a high level puts an obligation on me to play well, so as not to hold other members of my team back. Currently I'm also very keen on the Games Done Quick marathon, a twice-yearly charity event which has raised over $1.7million this year alone.

But I don't feel comfortable talking about video games here, so much so that I've often thought about starting a second, entirely separate blog just to talk about my gaming experiences. It feels to me as if discussion of video games 'doesn't match' the themes of an author's blog, despite the fact that, as a genre fantasy author, many members of my core target audience are likely to be gamers themselves.

I don't feel the same way about other media. I'm not as interested in cinema as I used to be, but I wouldn't feel uncomfortable blogging about a film that had particularly moved or inspired me, or about something that could be learned from cinema as a form. Similarly, I've often mentioned webcomics, and sequential art in general, to draw comparisons with the ongoing evolution of publishing.

Maybe I'm imagining things, but I feel as if, just because of the association with video games, any similar point I tried to make from them would be dismissed. Part of this is hangover from my childhood, when video games were regarded with considerably greater suspicion than they are now. It took a long time before my parents were willing to let me have much access to games, though they have subsequently admitted that their doubts about the form were misplaced.

It comes down to this; I feel like there still isn't much of a casual audience for discussion of video games. There are specialist groups of various different kinds, including bona fide academic institutions and departments whose main focus is game design, but there isn't much outside of that. I can visit family and talk about my writing, even with people who aren't particularly interested in fantasy, or genre fiction, or even in fiction at all, but I wouldn't expect the same to be true for video games, despite them being an equally significant part of my life.

Maybe it's a bit different in business circles, since games are now one of the largest sectors of the entertainment market in the US and UK (I can't find a better source for the statistic, but I attended a lecture a couple of years ago by this guy, who made the claim that the video game industry is now larger than either film or TV in the US), but I'm not sure that's a discussion that would touch very much on game content.

The solution really ought to be for me to start talking about the stuff I'd like to talk about in a non-hardcore-gaming sphere and see if anybody listens, but I'm not quite willing to stick my neck out that far. If all else fails, time will doubtless do for games what it has done for all other forms of media - the average age of 'gamers' is now apparently 30, and the average age of game buyers is higher (though some of that will be parents buying - perhaps still with some reluctance - for their kids).

If you're a regular reader of this blog, and particularly if you don't consider yourself a gamer, I'd be very interested in your views on this; would you be surprised to see video game topics here? Would you read a blog post about video games (apart from this one)? Thanks for reading.

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