Time Magazine Takes Shots at Gamers with Halo 3 Article

timehalo1.jpgThe newest issue of Time Magazine is out and it already has the gaming community in an uproar over a cover story featuring Halo 3. Most of the outrage stems from the featured article by Lev Grossman that casts gamers themselves in an unfavorable light. A lot of people in the gaming community are already foaming at the mouth over this piece, and it isn’t hard to see why. Aside from the very obvious bias of the feature, it’s also incredibly poorly researched, often exhibiting facts that your average teenager would know to be false; citing Halo 2 as an Xbox 360 exclusive, for example. He also complains that few people really know the story of Halo, which I think a “few” million people might disagree on. The article is frequently littered with little pot shots at gamers as well. He refers to the gaming community at large as “antisocial”, “sociopathic,” and the “invisible geek ghetto,” and games themselves as “an unhealthy amusement for children.”

It really sounds like the man hasn’t even glanced at a video game since Donkey Kong, and is now confused with what is before him. And when people are faced with something confusing, they tend react in one of two ways: acceptance or rejection. Clearly, the author of this feature has chosen the latter. The entire article has an air of frustrated resentment to it. Reading it is kind of like trying to watch a 90-year old man explain hip hop music. He just seems so stubborn in his beliefs that he ends up sounding more and more ridiculous, refusing to acknowledge how much the game business has grown or even games as a “respectable media.” I think the part that really made me realize just what was wrong though, was when the writer began comparing Halo to various pieces of classic literature. That’s usually one of my top signs that someone has no real understanding of what they’re talking about, so they try desperately to link to something they do understand (pick up a copy of the New Yorker to see what I’m talking about).

Personally, I’m not even a really huge Halo fan. They’re good games and all, but not really in my top ten. Still, even I know that Halo 3 is probably the biggest game hitting shelves this year in a multi-billion dollar market, which makes it kind of more than a “subculture”; that’s kind of like referring to people who watch movies as a “subculture.”

Via Time

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No Comments on Time Magazine Takes Shots at Gamers with Halo 3 Article

William

On September 4, 2007 at 7:29 pm

“an unhealthy amusement for children.”

I’d rather they call it an unhealthy amusement for adults.

William

On September 4, 2007 at 7:31 pm

Halo isn’t for kids anyway.. the ironic thing is that it’s the kids that do get on there that make it a bad experience for everyone else. They talk about games corrupting the youth, when in fact these little bastards come on our Halo matches and corrupt the game.

weclock

On September 4, 2007 at 7:53 pm

Halo may not be for kids, but that doesn’t keep them from following the kids movie model, by having a god damn burgerking promotion.

Halo is a kind of weird game, as it attracts all manner of people, respectable gamers, non-respectable gamers, and idiots.

I’m thinking maybe, just maybe, the guy was focusing on the larger categories (non-respectable gamers and idiots).

somewhat

On September 4, 2007 at 9:35 pm

Sorry to say, but he’s lumped all the gamers together. :sad:

Chris

On September 4, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Well not all kids are gaming idiots. A few are actually playing right and playing well. But anwyay, Im not at all surprised Time would have an article this poorly written, especially about videogames. They are to wrapped up in their Politically Correct WOrld to actually look at whats really going on in the gaming industry, I mean we make up alot of people.

Aristotle

On September 4, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Games corrupt youth?! NAY!

YOUTH CORRUPTS GAMES!

That’s why we have the ESRB… despite its poor enforcement, it’s there for a reason! (Unfortunately it doesn’t take into account those whoqualify for “M” status, yet, still act several years below tht baseline).

This is just a simple, and very prime example of how desperate the anti-gaming community is… I mean, they’re fighting a losing battle (maybe they should find a new researcher?), they’re taking the cheap shots, which is a sue fire sign of sore losing (do they even qualify to purchase M rated games? They shouldn’t be…)

The Smart one

On September 4, 2007 at 10:14 pm

I’m sorry, but when I first read your post I was infuriated…

Then I took the time to carefully read and examine the article.

If you haven’t, do so, and to the writer of this “response”, please re-read the article from a non-idiotic stand point.

Honestly, it is not completely anti-gamer though the tone is that of an elder who see’s games as a bit childish, yet he doesn’t blazen us with titles instead he uses proper english in a literary format to display his articles ideas and facts.
Reread this section in particular:

“THE CLICHÉ ABOUT GAMERS IS THAT THEY’RE antisocial, if not sociopathic, but Bungie is very much a community.”

He identifies it as a cliche and does not blatantly say “all gamers are antisocial”.

If anything, the director of bungie should be seen as a ‘tard for saying that his fans become “rabid”, everyone and their sister should know the connotation of this word and that it is “bad”… C’mon! Don’t call your fans rabid.

This article is NOT antigamer, all of the information is how we’re commonly seen in the media now and this man Obviously DOES NOT think of us as inhuman individuals.

Learn to read critically instead of using selective hearing to knit-pick articles in order to boost your own popularity.

You sir, should delete this post, reread the article, and come back to us with ACCURATE information.
It is a fact that other forms of media are seen are “more respectable”, that is not an anti-videogame slur. The author even says:

“There’s an opportunity, in other words, to decloak the Halo subculture, to turn it from invisible to visible.”

That is a positive comment.

Tyrone

On September 4, 2007 at 10:47 pm

Hahaha.

The above comment hits it right on. So many gamers get so pissy whenever they feel threatened by the media and in turn only hurt themselves in their silly retaliations.

William

On September 4, 2007 at 11:26 pm

As a gamer myself, I never mind educated statements that can be backed up, but this guy couldn’t even get the facts straight.

His age is no excuse. As a writer for Time, it should be his responsibilities to keep up with the modern society. It’s reckless journalism like this that cause all kinds of non-gamers to think harshly about us.

Against the comment above, I vote we don’t delete it. Everyone has the right to a critical opinion.

DeebsSWC

On September 5, 2007 at 1:52 am

Well, I do know one thing. I’d rather be playing a game that reading that “Time Magazeen” garbage.

Drugs are bad…M’kay? Well, consider that drugs are empowering 99% of our elderly population. Not so bad. Games are bad…I’ll let you figure this one out. (73% of all statistics are made up on the spot.)

America’s Army, has become a valuable recruitment tool for the Department of Defense. Deus Ex, Half-Life, System Shock, and an infinite list of other MUST HAVE games, have changed our lives in ways no movie, book, or song could touch. We meet friends playing games. We form families playing games. We play games because they are fun. We play games because studying that extra chapter before the final exam seems too boring. Bottom line…we play games.

Sooner or later, the “non-believers” will have to move on to some other poison of society for them daftly obsess over. But until then, endure these times, and tell your grandchildren, “I was there when games were games”

Lucas

On September 5, 2007 at 8:21 am

Deebs is also on the spot.

“Halo 2 is XBox 360 exclusive” ? YA RIGHT! Halo 2 came out on XBox before the 360 even came out and they just had a release for the PC! Not sounding too exclusive to me.

THIS MAN IS FULL OF IGNORANCE!

Stephany

On September 5, 2007 at 12:24 pm

I receive Time in the mail, and the day I opened the mailbox and saw Halo 3 on the cover my initial reaction, was “here we go again” with the obligatory eye rolling and anticipated chagrin. However, after reading the article I was sated up to a point. Yes, the article is poorly written and I agree that the author should have done a bit more research, and also I agree that he fell back on the gamer stereotype a little much, but all in all I have to say that I have read much worse. It was nothing more than wasted space that could have gone to a more interesting article. I think what bothered me the most, was the picture of the Bungie team. I counted only two women in the picture, and what could possibly be considered a third somewhere in the back – or maybe it was a “little person”. I dunno. I just would have thought there would be more female employees at a company like this – not that I am trying to get all ERA and act like an angry feminist – I am just making an observation. :-)

Jonathan S

On September 5, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I’m not exactly sure how you found all these… errr, bad things? This was not a bash on the Halo Fanchise, nor a bash on gamers. Though some small words may not be accurate descriptions, for the most part this artical was PRAISING the Halo Franchise. Go read the article and decide for yourself. It wasn’t that bad. And just to throw this in the pot, I Freaking Love Halo. This is nothing campared to the “Halo 2.5 Jokes” we’re about to get. So cool off.

Shawn Sines

On September 5, 2007 at 3:13 pm

I guess I don’t take this article as negatively as some folks would. I write for mainstream press. I know what the position of the common editor is in regards to video-games. Grossman is merely setting up the article by playing on the gamer stereotypes that the mainstream media promotes and reinforces. However at the core he is praising the individuals at Bungie for their work, praising the intelligence of the series and its fans.

I don’t see a problem here. His point is that these are not stereotypes and Halo is not a stereotypical game. His allusion to Mario and Donkey Kong does fix his age a bit but it matches the approach of his primary audience. We are too close to the industry here on a gaming website to understand the perspective he presents. We’ve not his audience. Your grandparents and parents are. People who don’t have a love of the entertainment form, who don’t see it as ubiquitous to their lives.

I don’t think it poorly written either. He paints a picture and works to bring out the tale behind it. He is promoting the concept that games are not always what society thinks they are. His use of slurs are a means of capturing the attention of the audience. He also highlights that Halo is bringing awareness of the media into the common lexicon of culture. Nothing bad about that.

Shawn Sines

On September 5, 2007 at 3:19 pm

Minor Typo above:
“We’ve not his audience” should read “We’re not his audience”.

Spell check doesn’t catch things that are the wrong word and properly spelled… sigh

Jonathan

On September 5, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Nope, I still don’t see this as a positive piece. I see the little bits of language thrown before each negative stereotype as a means to soften such statements by indicating that they are the majority opinion. Unfortunately, he never does much to dissuade that majority, so this doesn’t automatically turn them into positive statements; it just covers the author’s own ass. This vague wording seems to be working quite effectively too, considering the heated debate that’s taking place over just what he meant. Just because the article had some very poignant moments — I actually liked the part where he described Master Chief’s helmet as a mirror that figuratively turns him into any player — that doesn’t mean the whole thing can be considered a “positive” piece. Say a movie came out, a comedy, that had one or two funny jokes, but the rest was just boring. Would you then describe it as a “funny” movie? I doubt it. Besides, even the positive bits are eventually contradicted. He says a lot of positive things about Bungie, but then ends the article by flatly stating that for all this talk of community and art, all they really care about is the money.

If he were trying to go against these cliches of the gaming community, he would have said something more in that direction at some point in the article. But he didn’t. For example, what if I said something like “It is a cliche to say that George Bush looks like a monkey.” Sure, it’s something that’s been said many times before, but by re-iterating it without any sort of rebuttal, I’m throwing myself in with the majority. As a seasoned writer, this is something Mr. Grossman would be well aware of. At no point does he try to dissolve these “cliches,” which begs the question, why even bring it up?

My main issue with the article though was — particularly for a person writing specifically for the technology section of a high-profile news publication — he really didn’t seem to show even the basest knowledge of the video game business. If he had shown some familiarity with the video game community and then railed against it, I certainly wouldn’t be happy with it, but I’d be satisfied that he at least knew just what he was going against. But he didn’t.. He treated the entire gaming community as some little fad that’s just now getting it’s big break:

“There is an invisible subculture in America. Those who belong to it love it with a lonely, alienated, unironic passion.”

“It may be time for the Master Chief to come in from the cold and join the party, with the popular kids.”

These statements seem particularly out of place when he’s discussing a game that already has pre-sales in the millions. He even seemed amazed that they were recording actual sound for the game, leading me even further to believe he hasn’t seen another video game since the 80′s. He threw in a handful of sales figures and the game’s storyline to make it look like he had some facts, but the rest was just baseless opinion; most of it very much against games in general. By re-iterating negative stereotypes and doing next to nothing to dissolve them, this article doesn’t do anything to help the image of games or gamers.

And apparently I’m not alone with these thoughts. This post over at Bits, Bytes, Pixels, and Sprites points out even more factual inaccuracies with the article and provides a link to another interesting article by Mr. Grossman on the godlessness of Harry Potter.

mik3

On September 5, 2007 at 4:35 pm

people who play video games are not “antisocial” “sociopathic” “geeks” or anything. i happen to have a real life with friends, go to school, a job over the summer, and i also play halo. so that makes me a geek and antisocial. i hate this guy, if i ever met him hed be dead within 3 seconds

Ron Whitaker

On September 5, 2007 at 5:58 pm

Honestly, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. My only beef with this article is that it makes Halo 3 out to be the one single game that every gamer is waiting with bated breath for. It’s not. In fact, I won’t even play it.

However, that’s neither here nor there. The plain truth is that to non-gamers, gaming IS a subculture. Sure, they know that there are kids that play video games. But all of us thirty-somethings standing in line at midnight for a copy of our pre-order? It baffles them because they have no knowledge of the gaming world.

Is the writer a gamer? Obviously not. He’s one of the media who still see games as an inferior media. He’s not alone in that. Many members of the mainstream just don’t understand the reach of gaming today. However, the article isn’t nearly as negative as everyone seems to think it is.

Grenthorpe

On September 5, 2007 at 7:59 pm

@Mik3: And again why do average American citizens assume video games make people violent? I think your comment illustrates that conceit perfectly. You disagree with the writer’s position and then in the same statement threaten his life. Great and mature all in one.

Jack Thompson survives in the media because of the diatribes espoused by people like you.

Xenothology

On September 5, 2007 at 9:03 pm

Im disapointed with anyone who gets upset with reading something that dosent even matter. if u dont like halo then dont buy it. no one is MAKING u buy it but dont go trashing a well loved game in a magazine that dosent even have accurate facts. Im not EVER going to force somebody to like or dislike something. PS3 vs 360? WHO CARES!! buy what u want to and dont force ur opinion on anyone.

Xenothology

On September 5, 2007 at 9:06 pm

HEY WHOA EASY MIKE3!!!

its jus a mag article. WHO CARES!!

Tyrone

On September 5, 2007 at 10:08 pm

Haha Mik3.

Wikipedia: Antisocial personality disorder (APD) is a psychiatric condition characterized by an individual’s common disregard for social rules, norms, and cultural codes, as well as impulsive behavior, and indifference to the rights and feelings of others.

I find the connection between solving problems in video games by shooting your opponent in the face 14 times and your comment to be ALARMINGLY connected! :o

I think it’d be safer next to time to just not say anything.

Matty

On September 6, 2007 at 9:43 am

@Tyrone
“common disregard for social rules, norms, and cultural codes, as well as impulsive behavior, and indifference to the rights and feelings of others…”

I think you just described the majority of people all over the world there mate…
I’m pretty annoyed by the obvious lack of research done by this so-called ‘journalist’ and hopefully the editors at Time will take action if enough people complain. Otherwise, I’m not all that bothered – gamers, the people that do matter in the industry, know all about the Halo franchise (despite his opinion) and, allowing for personal taste, know exactly how great the games are…

Terrence Stasse

On September 11, 2007 at 4:32 pm

I think that it is important to note that the author seems to go to great lengths to show that the Bungie community is not antisocial, is not lonely, and not sociopathic. But I have to tell you that this piece does not have the tone of a person trying to convince people about how great the hardcore gaming community is. Instead, it feeds the stereotypes of obsessive computer nerds and implores Bungie and its fans to help hardcore, in-depth gaming submit itself to the mainstream. And despite his blog or his personal beliefs, his tone is unmistakeable — hardcore gamers (including Bungie employees) are kind of weird and seclusive, and should change their ways to embrace the mainstream.

This tone is easily identifiable, and regrettably unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. Sadly, the article makes all of these assertions without citing a single source for support. The author himself is not an anthropologist or a sociologist, and thus his own observations and opinions do not merit expert treatment. As an editorial, this piece is fine. As supposed “journalism,” it is woefully inadequate.

But anyway, for those of you expressing shock and disbelief at how anyone reading this article could be offended, try to expand your mind and allow me to enlighten you.

First, the author begins his piece by calling hardcore gamers “lonely” and “alienated.” He then — without citing any support for his assertions — proceeds to draw a series of lines between “non-gamers” and “gamers.” The lines the author draws are not meant to cause (or at least do not have the effect of causing) “non-gamers” reading the Time article to realize, “Hey, we’re not so different after all.” Nay, instead, the author’s piece seems meant to accentuate (or at least has the effect of accentuating) the differences between the two.

Unlike the author, I cite a virtual cornucopia of examples:

When nongamers look at the Master Chief’s helmet, they see a forbidding, anonymous mask. But when gamers look at it, they see a mirror. They see themselves.
There’s a foreign-legion quality to it, as if the company had been created as a refuge for smart people who wouldn’t or couldn’t fit into more conventional professions.
It’s doubtful that many people reading this could say exactly, or even approximately, what the Halo games are about.
In return, they give Halo most of their waking hours, which vastly outnumber their sleeping ones. For the past few months, shifts at Bungie have run from 6 in the morning till 2 in the morning. One manager confessed that he was so strung out on caffeine, he had to drink a Diet Coke just so he could kill his cravings enough to fall asleep. . . . “We actually are insane,” the engineer says . . . “Literally. We ought to be locked up.”
This devotion is fueled by a belief, not shared by the world at large, that video games are an art form with genuine emotional meaning and that Halo 3 will be the premier example of that art.
There’s an opportunity beyond video games, too, for Halo to break out of the ghetto and become a mainstream, mass-market, multimedia entertainment property.
They don’t need to legitimize Halo by associating it with other, more respectable media.
They’re happy in their invisible geek ghetto.
It may be time for the Master Chief to come in from the cold and join the party, with the popular kids.

Thus, to those of you who still don’t believe that this article might offend a gamer, allow me to draw some basic conclusions for you, all of which may be supported by drawing upon the above-quoted excerpts:

* According to the author, gamers are under the delusion that they are futuristic super-soldiers. Non-gamers, of course, simply see some dude with a helmet.

* According to the author, Halo fans don’t read Time Magazine.

* According to the author, hardcore gamers (under the guise of Bungie employees) are incapable of interacting with regular people in a normal office environment.

* According to the author, hardcore gamers (under the guise of Bungie employees) are obsessive to the point where they become strung out and addicted to stimulants.

* According to the author, hardcore gamers (under the guise of Bungie employees) are self-admittedly insane to the point where they should be locked up.

* According to the author, hardcore gamers are under delusions about the artistry of video gaming; delusions which, of course, are clearly not true to normal people.

* According to the author, Halo is ghetto. (Sorry, but the connotations of this word are undeniable. Quote the dictionary all you want, but we all know the mental image you get when someone says the word “ghetto.” Keep the audience in mind, indeed.)

* According to the author, Halo fans are out of the mainstream.

* According to the author, Video games are not “respectable.”

* According to the author, Halo fans are geeks. (Again, the connotations of the word are undeniably negative)

* According to the author, Halo fans are not popular kids, but they could be if they would only submit themselves to the mainstream. (whatever that means)

You are, of course, free to draw your own conclusions about what the author is saying here. But the above conclusions are certainly possible to the biased or predisposed reader. Moreover, I doubt that you could successfully show that the author is trying to convince his audience that hardcore gamers are normal people — students, athletes, musicians, doctors, mechanics, lawyers, carpenters, scientists, and so on — who are just really into gaming. Yet it is easy to show how a non-gamer (the purported “audience”) might see this article as saying “Here is the rationale behind hardcore gamers’ devotion. Lol aren’t they weird? Why won’t they just be more NORMAL?”

Again, the way you read this article is completely up to you. But it is self-evident that the article could be read in a negative light by the author’s so-called “non-gamer” audience. What’s worse is that the author, throughout his piece, makes assumptions and assertions about the hardcore gaming/Bungie/Halo community that are completely unsupported by anything resembling a fact or source.

In conclusion, should you let this article roll off your back without taking offense? Absolutely, if possible. I am not personally offended, and neither are many of the posters in this thread.

But to say things like “there’s nothing offensive in the article,” “the article is not negative,” or that somehow we should ignore or forgive the article’s tone and implications because we are not the intended audience is both naive and wrong.

Orwells Ghost

On September 15, 2008 at 11:01 pm

Lev Grossman is just upset that a video game can sell hundreds of millions more copies than his books Codex and Warp.

Codex got a low 2 1/2 stars out of 187 reviews and most(55) rated it a 1.
Warp got the same, 2 1/2 out of 5 stars out of 19 reviews and most(10) rating it a 1 as well.

Seems like his article writing is no better than his novel writing.