How not to improve the “gamer” stereotype

The gamer image is slowly starting to change. Used to be the hardcore “gamer” didn’t have a job, was usually antisocial, lived in his parents’ basement and had a sunlight deprived pale and sickly complexion with bloodshot eyes complete with Cheetos stained fingers. Now, however, they could be seen the coworker who volunteers to set up a LAN party or suggests a Medal of Honor session for a team building exercise. We also now recognize that girls really DO play videogames. Yet, with the exception of gaining some female gamers, none of this evolution has affected the stereotypes for young gamers.

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, for example said kids that sit at home playing videogames instead of getting outside and playing “become like blinking lizards, motionless, absorbed, only their twitching hands showing they are still conscious.” Even McDonalds put this sofa bound syndrome on videogames, so it isn’t too surprising to hear about a children’s book depicting the evils of videogame addiction.

What is surprising about Sofa Boy is that a videogame producer wrote the book. Scott J. Langteau, co-producer of Medal of Honor, producer of MoH: Frontline and MoH: Underground, and co-founder of the development studio Spark Unlimited, confesses that he was once a “Sofa Boy” himself. His book shows an average family whose son refuses to get off the sofa. He won’t play outside, get up for dinner, take a bath or go to bed. By showing the fate that awaits Sofa Boy and apparently his cat, Langteau presents a lesson in moderation when it comes to videogames. Chances are, if his book sells well, they’ll get the message. If not, at least we can still appreciate Langteau’s games.

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