Crispy Gamer

On the Bright Side: An Introduction


In 2007, a fictional food critic by the name of Antone Ego aptly described mass media and its audience when he wrote: "We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read."

Ego's definition couldn't have been wiser. Indeed, positive news has long since taken a backseat to negative reporting, with the former often compressed to a 20-second closing spot in a 30-minute telecast.

The same is true of videogames, if not by more, which have long been vilified and blamed for idleness, poor grades, insensitivity and random acts of violence by the mainstream media. Interestingly, even the gaming press has become more grumpy in recent years, adding drama where there is none to be found, discouraging industry growth and change, and forgetting the playful nature of videogames altogether.

Enter On the Bright Side, which centers on the silver lining of videogames -- a biweekly column that stays positive. Its purpose is not an attempt to fight fire with fire, nor is it the result of Little Man's Disease (read: videogames as entertainment's fast-growing little brother).

It's not a cover-up, or admittance that gaming is without its fair share of problems and challenges; it's not to say that gaming is incapable of negatively influencing its players, troubled or otherwise; and it won't strive to reward creativity that really isn't there. Rather, it will tell the story of good things stemming from games, regardless whether you think the cup is half-empty or half-full.

For example.

A single, working mom from Amarillo, Texas faces difficultly finding a short-supplied Wii for her disabled son last year. In turn, a prominent blogger from Kotaku makes arrangements and gifts her the console after a "huge response" from willing donors.

In December 2007, a resourceful 12-year-old boy from Norway avoids disaster, shields his younger sister from danger, and survives a moose attack after playing possum, "just like you learn at level 30 in World of Warcraft." The towheaded lad, his sister and the moose all walked away without injury.

A father of two is robbed of his entire game collection spanning three decades. The disheartened fellow breaks the news to his Internet colleagues on the EGM message boards and is showered with replacements, something he says was against his will.

Microsoft sends free Xbox 360s quipped with video chat and copies of Halo 3 to U.S. soldiers deployed in Iraq to boost morale. Child's Play raises millions in donations from 100,000 generous gamers to provide sick children with relief and a smile. A new study by the NPD groups finds that videogames can actually "bring families closer together," believe it or not, like any other form of social entertainment.

And on and on.

Just recently, Sony Online Entertainment announced G.I.R.L., a progressive new scholarship program designed to educate and recruit more women into videogames. "Our research showed that women are hesitant to pursue jobs in video games because it is perceived as a male dominated industry -- which, frankly it is," said Courtney Simmons, director of corporate communications at Sony Online. "I think it is a misnomer that woman just want to play Bejeweled. The women I know that play games do not want to be gamed-down to," she adds.

Pile it on, and the result is a videogame industry that can appeal to anyone, foster continued innovation, and increase both the number and variety of games -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg, as this reoccurring editorial intends to prove.

So even though the good is overwhelmed by the bad, it's still there. You just have to look for it.