A STUDY ON THE IMPACT OF VIDEO GAMES
By Charles Painter
PART 1: HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
In the social ladder of a school, some things are cool, and some things definitely are not. Video games, usually fall on the latter side of the equation, unless they involve what is “cool.” As for those that are not cool, what of the people who play them? Or are at least open about playing them? Where do they fall on the social ladder?
CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS A GEEK?
What is a geek? Or a nerd for that matter? To be a geek for something simply means to have a passion for. You could be a geek for football, for instance. You keep up with the players, their averages, make educated guesses on who’s going to win the next game, or even what’s going to happen in the game, because you’ve devoted a lot of time to researching (in a way) and learning about football. However, nerd and geek remain as hurtful slang.
So, why is “nerd” a derogatory term? Webster’s defines nerd as: “an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.” So, to be a nerd means to lack social skills, or to dress in a way unaccepted by the status quo. It’s demeaning nature is expressed in it’s own essence.
But, what about geeks? Webster’s defines geeks as “an enthusiast or expert, especially in a technological field or activity.” It’s like what was stated above, a geek is someone who is passionate about a specific interest or hobby, and devotes themselves to it. The term geek can be used to describe anyone who is passionate about anything.
Geeks, in essence, are not the highest on the social ladder, but a more interesting question is “why?” This goes into the status quo, which silently states that anyone can be a geek and remain accepted, but if they are a geek for something unaccepted, then they too are unaccepted. This leads geeks who fit into the status quo to see themselves not as geeks, but simply as “popular” (a very vague term). However, unlike nerds, all geeks do not lack social skills (however, you can be both a nerd and geek), and therefore can fit into other groups and be accepted, while keeping their geek identity. This process is difficult, and the possibility of achieving it depends on your environment, but it can be done.
CHAPTER 2: VIDEO GAMES
Video games are the world’s most unique form of media, giving the consumer the power to play through the story and game. However, like we discussed in the first chapter, video games fall into the category of “nerdy,” meaning they aren’t accepted in the higher levels of the status quo (especially in teenagers, which is what this study is about). However, as we progress into this study, and what it is truly about, you will find that the opinions of a specific group can be changed from higher up in the group. Now, video games aren’t the most accepted form of media, but they aren’t the worst either. It depends on the game, really. For instance, the “popular” kids play video games like Call of Duty, and that is fine. That video game is associated with guns (cool), violence (cool), action (cool), and other things. But the “geeks” play Pokemon, and that is full of japanese culture (lame), colorful monsters (lame), turn based gameplay (lame), and is designed for a core audience of very young people (lame, and the parenthetical descriptions express the opinion of the “popular”). So, some video games are “cool” while others are “geeky.” There’s a fine line between them; but as stated earlier, anyone can be a Pokemon geek and still be accepted, as long as they can also fit in with the “popular” group.
Like previously discussed, a geek is anyone who has a true passion for something or is an expert in a specific subject. A lot of video games are socially unaccepted, and that’s what some people are geeks about. Considering that these games fall into a “nerdy” category of sorts, they are labelled geeks and then fall into the category. It’s like previously stated, you can be a geek for anything and still be socially accepted, it’s when you’re a geek for something socially unaccepted that you are ostracized, and labelled.
But this study raises a question too (that will be discussed further in upcoming sections): What if those on the high part of the status quo become geeks for something that is nerdy? Is it’s status raised from nerdy to “cool?”
Believe it or not, this can happen, and it did too. In fact, the occurance is what inspired me to write this study, to see how something like this could happen.