I feel like geeks and gamers have always got a bad wrap. For some reason society as a whole is very concerned with our favourite past times. With our minds and our souls! Recently you may have seen that Video Game Addiction now constitutes an official mental disorder TheAmbiGamer covers the news pretty awesomely here: Pathologizing Play
Firstly I love a good disclaimer so I just want to be clear that mental health is something that should be taken seriously. In the UK 1 in 4 people have experiences of poor mental health and addiction in particular is something people should get help with. If your gaming or any other thing or substance is causing negative effects on the rest of your life then getting help is the right thing.
With that over with, while addiction is a very real thing, so is folk devils! A folk devil isn’t some horned monster in your wardrobe its defined as “a person or thing held to be a bad influence on society..” (Thank you ALevel Sociology!)
Gaming often falls into this category seen as causing violence or addiction or poor exam results you name it! While gaming is seen as a bad influence on the mental health of kids, there was a time when other geeky pursuits had similar issues. Dungeons and Dragons as an example was seen as a gateway to satanism and costing kids their souls! It’s almost as if society has an issues with geeks and gamers right?
The Satanic Panic was quite the insane event in the USA were a number of religious groups claimed Dungeons and Dragons was corrupting the youth. Teaching kids satan worship and witchcraft with its spells and horned monsters. At its worst the media attempted to link Dungeons and Dragons with a number of murders and suicides in the USA of teens who happened to share a love of the game.
I feel more informed people have already made it clear how Video Game addiction as a mental disorder is a good thing for those who’s lives are genuinely impacted negatively and need help.
I more wanted to add some context to the media cover and response to this. Every so often there comes a geeky invention that becomes a threat to the very fabric of society (apparently) a Folk Devil that rises its head and threatens to bring down society.
What society seems to forget is that us gamers and geeks are raised and experienced in post apocalyptic worlds. We are masters of experts with a blade and spell and know how to vanquish evil. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if a Folk Devil does rise, geeks and gamers would be on the front line!