Wednesday, March 23, 2011

EXP Podcast #122: The Selfish Podcast

Are gamers selfish? That is the question Michelle Baldwin from Pioneer Project asks herself when confronted with "the look." When some unfamiliar with games hears about your small obsession or hobby, a curious glare not uncommon. Where does this look come from? How might social games address the divide between gamers and non-gamers? And how might we contemplate selfishness that makes us better thinkers, designers and players? Join us this week as Scott and I discuss all of these questions and more in the most selfish EXP Podcast to date. As always, we encourage you to leave your thoughts in the comments section and check out Michelle's original article in the show notes below.

Some discussion starters:

-What sort of reactions do you receive when you share your gaming interests with strangers?
- Can social/casual games bridge the gap between self-identified gamers and non-gamers?
- How do we handle concerns about the ethic of the hobby and the gaming industry?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.
Show notes:

- Run time: 30 min 27 sec
- "Are Gamers Selfish?," by Michelle Baldwin via Pioneer Project
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. FYI - I tried to dl the podcast but it appears to be last week's on board games.

  2. @ Drew

    Thanks for the heads up Drew. It should be fixed now. I just put in the incorrect link.

  3. (I apologize if my idea comes across as being a little muddled, my wordsmithing abilities are not what they could be)

    The gaming/gamer culture is like a party. I myself have been partying at the video game venue for almost 20 years. One by one we stumbled into the room and slowly gravitated towards one spectacle or another and made social connections with other party goers. We developed terms and ideas that while holding meaning or conveying complex concepts within the party, had no use "outside". We started with obscure or alternative music, simple structures and the guest list was rather short. Now time has passed and the party has gotten bigger, louder, and more popular to the point that word of the party has spread around town.

    Eventually someone who has heard of the party but has never actually stepped in the door decides to check things out. You arrive at a party, but unless a friend brought you in, you don't know anyone there. There are circles of people having fun, talking about the party and the other people who are there, all things that you really can't relate to because everything is so new and it all feels overwhelming. The other people may not call you over into their group but they aren't necessarily being rude or anti-social, you're new and they're not quite sure how you fit in or what you bring. What you may not realize though is that while having food and drink is an enjoyable part of the party, that's not necessarily what brought people in or why they stay. They want to experience the music, the lights, the sounds, the stories and amidst all that have fun and enjoy the continued evolution of the party.

    As I see it what complicates things is the realization that gamers have developed their own culture, that said culture has been growing and developing largely by itself due to obscurity and/or the erroneous perception that it's a juvenile hobby, that in the past people have been ridiculed for it and left wary of 'outsiders', all of which culminates into a rather unique atmosphere. While all this may suggest that casual or social site games do offer some means of bridging the gap between gamers and non-gamers, what I think stumps the most people is "Why game?".

    We don't really tell people (in a broad sense) why we game anymore, if in fact we ever did. There's no billboard or ad campaign that says "Video Games - Direct and star in the movie" or "Video Games - You're not on Mars, but we can show you what it might be like" or "Video Games - All the touchdowns, none of the scandal!". We've seen no need to do so really, because for the most part we have all found our own reasons to pick up a controller along the way and many more reasons to keep the controller in our hands. People have watched us and slowly they are realizing, as you've said, that we game for some of the same reasons they watch TV, read books or play sports. We want to see spectacle unfold, be taken on a journey through someone's creative construct, or just pal around while trying to reach a mutual objective. But it's easier to dismiss gaming out of hand for the same reasons we dismiss television or music. It CAN be a distraction, it CAN be seen as a fruitless endeavor, but those other leisure activities it's up to the participants to decide if they'll let it be so.

    The "why" changes for every person, as well as how they found it. It's unfortunate, but despite all the efforts made to the contrary, some people just can't allow themselves to believe that finding their "why", or at the very least understanding someone else's could be so very, very worth it.

    TL;DR - Gaming's a party. You can't come in late and expect not to feel a little lost. Give yourself the opportunity to learn why we're here and you'll understand even if you don't decide to join in. But if you do decide to join, we'll help you find plenty of fun things to do.