The release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been cited by some as the entry of video games into the mainstream, but reading newspaper articles on the CODMW2 release I was struck by the unknowledgable and derisory tone used. (The only exception being Charlie Brooker in the Guardian, an ex video-games journalist). Video games, despite acceptance that they are fast becoming the largest and most profitable entertainment medium, are still treated with contempt, and this brings us to a point that has always perplexed me.
Because video games are interactive they are seen as somehow childish and derisory. Because we interact with an entertainment medium we are just playing at life. But TV and Films are no more real than games and offer no interactivity, they are inherently a passive experience. With many games ingenuity and thoughtfulness are required for completion. Even the most on-rails first person shooter requires more thought than a similarly mindless film (compare playing or watching releases from the DOOM franchise). It has been shown that children who play video games from a young age posses superior hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills.
It has also been argued that video games promote inactivity and obesity, however, they do so only as much as persistent TV viewing. Two points can be made to counter this. Firstly with games entering the mainstream there will be more moderated and casual use (games as part of a healthy lifestyle!) and secondly, as games become more interactive (and motion sensors become more advanced and affordable) many will involve a level of physical exertion that is already seen in Wii titles.
The problem then isn’t video games themselves but a mainstream television and newspaper media that is run and controlled by a generation which wasn’t brought up with them(and we can hardly blame them for being wary of what they don’t know). Rock and roll music was only accepted within mainstream media once there were executives in place who had grown up with it. Similarly, video games will lose their black-sheep status in the mainstream media when a new generation of gaming-savvy executives takes charge. Until then us gamers will have to grin and bear the daily-mail treatment of the largest growing, and seemingly only recession-proof, entertainment medium.