In writing part one to this series of features, I was viewed externally by the rest of my family as ‘doing nothing’. The simple fact that my face was pointed towards a glowing white screen, and my fingers typed manically across an unmarked white mac keyboard meant that I was actually in a state of nothing. Despite everything that happened on my screen, I was doing nothing. It’s this that I want to explore in part 2 of ‘The Way We Are Perceived’.
So what was I actually doing? I was writing part one of ‘The Way We Are Perceived’. I was designing the shiny number sitting next to the desaturated image for these articles. I was writing chapter sixty-something for my Metal Gear fanfiction. I was editing a new trailer for my upcoming film, burning a DVD, listening to Spotify and sending out a few emails. After all that, I was updating my twitter feed to let my fifty awesome twitter followers know what I had been doing. I was just about to realise that I had over 110 followers to my facebook group, won the MAG competition and that I could actually be pretty awesome on Paint. All of this happens on a screen. Thanks to the internet, I’m actually seen as an interesting guy. BBC iPlayer, Youtube and TSA are other examples of awesome things to view when you’re at one screen. There’s a seemingly infinite set of possibilities that can fill those little pixels, and damn don’t we fill them. It’s the same on the PS3. Fire up your dinky television, or massive HDTV and you’re away with Nathan Drake, Sackboy and curing illnesses on Life with PlayStation.
My sister and I used to play ‘Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’ together almost every day when we first got that grey box of magic. We’d both take it in turns to jump, stomp and kick our way through dangerous 3D worlds. “X! Hit X! No! double X! Give it here, I’ll do it!” “No! I know how do it! look! Kapow!” There was a point where I began buying some PlayStation magazines. My sister took interest at first, but eventually school homework took up most of her time. As I kept reading (being a few years younger) I began buying my own games that I’d enjoy. Metal Gear Solid was immense. There was no way that I understood the entire story-line the first time, and I still learn something new every time I play it now. The fact was that after a few years of team-playing Crash Bandicoot, I was into the likes of Lara Croft and Solid Snake. It was my saved pocket money that bought me a PS2 two years after its launch. It stayed in my room and never left. After the initial amazement from my family, I was into the likes of MGS2 and GTA. That was it. My sister slowly moved away and never looked back.
If you were to walk into my room eight years ago, you’d see a boy’s eyes hooked to a screen shooting a virtual gun at enemy soldiers, running innocent people over in a virtual city or shooting bears and tigers. To enter, you need to duck or hop past a wire; either of which will get a frustrated moan from the one pushing buttons on a small controller. He’s been pushing the same buttons for the last two hours, and you always manage to enter when the ‘cutscene’ has started. He can’t pause it apparently. Go away. Please, go away. He’ll talk to you when it’s finished. Flash forward to a few weeks ago, and he would be sitting on his bed with a glowing Apple logo hovering above his knees typing away for some ‘article’. Apparently he’s written some sixty chapters of stuff and he’s editing films somewhere. But where has he been? In this room presumably. Come back from work and he’s still in this room? He must have eaten somehow. But it’s just one screen. That’s completely bone idle to be sitting here for hours on end staring at a small screen. There’s nothing productive here to see. There’s nothing physical here to prove he’s done anything. There’s nothing. He’s done nothing. He’s not doing anything.
“He” doesn’t simply refer to me. It refers to all of us gamers. It’s difficult sometimes to understand the mentality from the point of view of the onlooker, but it has to be understood so we can understand their perception of our understanding of social interaction. Lost? The analysis to come in part 3.