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Video games have become an important part of our lives in recent years. From something purely entertaining, they turn into an important medium through which stories and important matters can be transmitted. In our article, we try to see what is the cultural significance of gaming and its representation of marginalized groups.
Changing the gaming market
Just 20 years ago, we associated video games with just having fun. We could play typical platformers like Mario, Pac-Man, Crash, racing, sports games, and FPS. However, game producers are starting to create more and more ambitious titles that are not only for entertainment. This also means that we not only control a given character, a hero, but also experience various stories with him. It’s a bit like online casinos like here https://polski-sloty.com/kasyno-bonusy where our bets are extremely exciting.
Game developers try to show different stories so that players can learn more. Therefore, today you can meet games:
- historical – they present us with more or less known and important historical events.
- ecological – we are shown the changes that are taking place on Earth.
- cultural – the heroes of the games are representatives of social groups.
- political – we can check what politics and the economy look like in a given environment.
- survival – such games show us that surviving in a difficult environment is not so easy.
- simulators – today, we have plenty of simulators. It is a simulation of everyday life, farming and driving a train, truck or bus.
Unique gaming heroes
Today, we can easily name a lot of iconic game characters such as Mario, Solid Snake, Link, Donkey Kong, Master Chief, Geralt, Gordon Freeman, Sonic, PAC-Man. However, we decided to choose characters with whom we could easily identify.
- Lara Croft – the most famous female gaming character. We have already dealt with many video game titles and even movies. Lara Croft is the perfect representative of the feminist world, who shows that she can handle difficult situations perfectly.
- Aloy – she is the main hero of Horizon Zero Dawn and Horizon Forbidden West. She can also be considered a representative of the strong world of women. Aloy is a character who is raised as an outcast in the distant future. She has to constantly fight against the odds. At some point, however, it turns out that the fate of the world may depend on her.
- Artem – the hero of the Metro games. He is a young boy who lives in the Moscow metro after the city was destroyed in a nuclear war many years earlier. The boy embarks on a certain mission, where he becomes an unobvious hero fighting monsters, including people.
- Heroes from This War of Mine – is one of the most important Polish games, where we play the role of civilians living in a besieged city. Each of the characters has their own story and reacts to events, which makes us sympathize with them even more, and we try to help them.
Of course, there are many more such characters. However, we wanted to show that today any character can be the hero of the game – an abandoned orphan, a boy from the Moscow subway, and residents of Sarajevo. Increasingly, game developers create characters that are closer to the players. You can identify with them and see that they have similar stories and dreams. For players, many titles do not have to be just for fun but also a form of learning and even therapy. Today, some games are created to help certain groups with disorders – autism, hyperactivity, and lack of contact with others.
Games Impact Society
As we said, games can impact our lives. There are a few areas where this is particularly noticeable.
Games may be used for educational purposes. There are games typically for students, as well as those that teach something at the same time. A great example is the aforementioned This War of Mine, which is on the official list of the Polish Ministry of Education.
Many games strive to stimulate the imagination of players, where unusual worlds and interesting stories are shown. They also improve decision-making skills. We have challenges and tasks to complete for which we get rewards. In this way, they can raise the player’s morale.
Relationships with others
Many multiplayer games are focused on relationships with other players. Therefore, they help shy people with communication problems, as well as disabled people with certain diseases. Many people find it easier to establish contacts online, and in games, you can belong to groups, talk, and exchange experiences.
Some games are made specifically for specific groups of people. This is especially visible in the case of games for children with autism that teaches interaction and problem-solving.
Representing Marginalized Groups in Video Games
Computer games can also be used to represent marginalized groups. Game developers, like film producers, are not afraid to tackle difficult topics or introduce heroes that go beyond the mainstream to their worlds. A great example of this is The Last of Us 2. The main character of the game is Ellie, who is a lesbian. One of the heroes of this game is also Lev, the trans character – a girl who ran away from home because she/he preferred to be a boy.
In Spider-Man: Miles Morales, for the first time in history, the hero is a black boy, which differs from the typical image we know from the Spider-Man series. There are many LGBT+ people in the games as well as people of different races, skin colours, and religions. There are plenty of social groups that are marginalized, but fortunately, they appear in culture and also in games: senior citizens, military combat veterans, persons of below-average intelligence, with health and mental problems, with disfigurements, and sex offenders. It is very important that in many games today, you can create your own hero. Thanks to this, we decide for ourselves about gender, appearance – height, the colour of skin, eyes, hair, and special features.