As you may have noticed, articles, editorials and news features having to do with various social issues surrounding gaming (or with a gamers' slant) have been making an upswing here on GS. These issue range from violence in gaming to mental illness and so much in between. As gaming becomes more of a mainstream form of entertainment, the gaming community is growing, as is our social awareness of such issues. And, with the increase in the gaming population, there is bound to come an increase in pieces reflecting on social issues and their perceived relevance to members of this community.
Some pieces have been met with good debate within the community; others have been scorned and readers have threatened to leave GS for posting what they consider information that is not newsworthy. Still, some have even been praised for bringing awareness to issues that may be embarrassing for gamers to bring up on their own and opening a dialogue for change, or at the least, a better understanding of the highlighted issue.
The first topic that has really exploded across this site is feminism and gaming. It is also arguably the most hated, but is definitely one of the most polarizing. Don't worry, I'm not going to go on a rant about my actual opinion as I've done so on the numerous features on the site. Some of the more notable and commented-on pieces are as follows:
Dead Island sparks sexism flap (September 8, 2011 - 531 comments)
From Samus to Lara: An Interview With Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency (June 12, 2012 - 3724 comments)
Halo 4 devs speak out against sexism (October 30, 2012 - 700 comments)
Naughty Dog: games don't need males on cover to sell (December 12, 2012 - 454 comments)
Publishers said 'You can't have a female character,' says Remember Me dev (March 19, 2013 - 1131 comments)
Documentary on sexism in games hits Kickstarter (April 29, 2013 - 1366 comments)
A significant portion of the comments in these articles are decrying the fact that these pieces are even being published, that the issue of sexism in gaming either does not exist or that even if it does, there is no place on GS for this kind of piece. From my observation, the response to these articles was overwhelmingly negative.
Next on the list is the debate about how the violoence portrayed in video games may (or may not) affect people who play such games. Various studies have been conducted and opinions run the full gamut, some saying they affect us and may desensitize us to others saying it can help us manage pain and improve other aspects of our lives:
GS News - Violent Video Games can Ease Pain (September 11, 2012 - 134 comments)
Senator introduces bill to study violent games (December 20, 2012 - 1183 comments)
N.J. Gov: violent games must be examined (January 9, 2013 - 1447 comments)
Obama calls for game violence research (January 16, 2013 - 1298 comments)
Former FBI profiler says games do not cause violence (February 25, 2013 - 261 comments)
Study: Violent games can desensitize players (May 10, 2013 - 806 comments and counting)
This series of pieces seems to draw more of a debate than a simple "GTFO of GS". There doesn't seem to be as much of an internal argument between users as there are just differences of opinion which are handled in a more respectful manner than the issue of sexism and gaming.
Lastly, GS has gone even deeper into gamers' psyches by promoting a feature on gaming and depression and mental illness in regards to the gaming community:
Survey examines links between gaming, behavior (November 15, 2010 - 170 comments)
Study links pathological gaming to depression, anxiety in kids (January 17, 2011 - 606 comments)
Light in the Darkness: Dealing With Depression in Games (February 8, 2013 - 71 comments)
Depression Quest: A Retrospective (February 19, 2013 - 25 comments)
Video Games vs. Depression (May 3, 2013 - 1888 comments)
The last link, a relatively short documentary which was featured on the front page, has garnered a LOT of support. Comments on pieces in this group tend to be more positive and supportive in nature.
It seems to me that the most negative feedback comes from pieces where users feel judged or stereotyped themselves, which is no surprise: nobody likes to feel like they are being judged in a negative light. But pieces that analyze parts of the community and offer insight without judgement, such as the depression pieces, are welcomed overall, mostly because they are more helpful and not telling the user they need to change, or that the industry they hold so dear needs to change. Personally, I, too, enjoy these kinds of social awareness issues the best because I feel they can impact the most users in the most positive way.
I actually enjoy watching GS grow up and report on social issues. I feel that there is more than enough content on the site to the point that if you absolutely hate mixing social issues with gaming, you can find plenty to read and keep you busy without having to bother with content you really don't like. It also baffles me why so many people comment with such vitriol when GS does tackle these issues. I understand the voicing of the opinion that GS should not have these kinds of pieces on the front page, but what I mostly see are people trolling such pieces and massively increasing post counts on pieces they think shouldn't exist anyway, which is sort of defeating the purpose--but that's beside the point.
So, how do YOU feel about how all of these social issues are being represented here on GS? If you love it, what other ideas would you like to see tackled or acknowledged? If you would rather leave it behind, what would you like to see instead, and do you feel the presence of these issues truly undermines your ability to enjoy the rest of the content on the site?