My earliest video game memory is of playing Maze Craze on the Atari 2600, huddled three feet away from the 24 inch bubble shaped screen so common in the early eighties. I must have been four years old. I remember playing Pac Man and Gunsmoke at the roller rink arcade in the sleepy little northern Wisconsin town I grew up in. I remember the night my father brought home our first Nintendo – somewhat begrudgingly it must be said. A week later he had beaten Super Mario Bros before I had.
I’m part of the first generation of gamers that doesn’t remember a time before video games. They just were. I remember there always being a sense of newness and novelty – we didn’t take their existence for granted – but there was never a time “before.”
Gamers who once played a bundled copy of Duck Hunt are now all grown up. We have careers and families, mortgages and itineraries, criminal records and time-shares in Tahoe. Gamers no longer fit a stereotype. And refreshingly, a lot of those stereotypes have begun to subside as a result. The lawyer who once would have hidden his nightly rounds of Call of Duty from the senior partners, now owns it like any other hobby. He reads, he rock climbs, he has a somewhat odd penchant for building bird houses… AND he plays Call of Duty. These days it seems just as likely as not that one of those senior partners might hop in a game themselves from time to time. The teacher who once would have hidden her nightly Guild Wars session from her students for fear their parents might catch wind, now finds the topic a useful means of relating with her students.
And games have grown up as well to some degree. Increasingly, for every dumbed-down bro shooter or ‘breast physics’ charade, there’s a big budget AAA project pushing storytelling in the medium, or a sparkling little indie that leaves you marveling at the inventiveness that walks amongst us.
So why does it still so often seem like the gaming community is represented most prominently by the lowest common denominator? Personally, I find it impossible to believe that the majority of gamers bandy about the sorts of pejoratives and other hostile language that is so rife in online matches and forums. To subvert a political term, I can’t help but believe that there must be a very real “silent majority” of gamers who’d much rather treat one another with respect; who’d very much like to see the conversation elevated. Whatever forms or functions Boss Wave might ultimately take on, it is and will continue to be in large part about that. About that silent majority and giving them a place to be informed and challenged and heard. Boss Wave is a dialogue and a safe haven of sorts. And it’s entirely equal opportunity. Rude or insulting behavior just won’t wash around here. Please save us both the time and refrain entirely from negatively commenting on someone’s presumed ethnicity, sexuality or gender. Don’t use the N word or the F one. Or B or C. Unless of course you’re calling us Buddy, in which case, no worries Chief.
Boss Wave will be evolving and changing in these next few months and years to be sure, but above all it’s about games and the culture that surrounds them. An ongoing conversation if you will. That won’t change. If this were some other medium I might say something about our ‘audience,’ but a website and podcast allow for a back and forth that can evolve into that ever elusive thing we call community. That’s what we’d like to build here at Boss Wave. And we’d be especially honored if you considered being a part of it. Thanks for taking the time, and stay tuned. There’s plenty more to come.