Lunchtime Discussion: The Price of Gaming

This is going to be the second-to-last Lunchtime Discussion before Monday 28th, due to being busy with things and because, well, it’s Christmas, who wants to discuss stuff when we could be playing stuff?

It’s expensive to be a gamer. Games costs a lot of money, sure, but that’s not all I’m speaking about. Now it may well cost me £40 for a brand new game, but that’s perfectly fine considering that, from a decent game, I can get much more entertainment for much longer than most other media, it’s more the social price that I’m thinking about right now.

Gaming is constantly under attack, whether from idiot lawyers or just from people who aren’t into gaming. Have you ever mentioned something to do with gaming and been looked at like you’re frothing at the mouth (that frothing thing only happened once), or been reading OPM only to get glanced at by passers-by like you’re lovingly caressing a machete? Meanwhile, if you sit on a reasonably full train, you’ll hear conversations about make-up from various women, wonderfully articulate men commenting on the weather (‘Fuck me, snow!’), a group of 12 year olds wearing more make-up than an entire play’s cast and children treating the train like their very own high velocity climbing frame whilst their parents sit there with a child hanging from their shoulder.

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In what way is gaming worse than any of the above conversations? I sit at home and I play through my very own movie instead of wasting away on a couch in front of a TV full of idiots who think they can sing, or I play online with a large group of real people, communicating with real team mates I have never and will never meet instead of, say, catching chlamydia from them in the alleyway behind a club in town. I can comment on the weather without profanity if I chose to, rather than introducing a whole new generation to my own brand of idiocy.

In many ways, online gaming in particular is more social than going to a club that simultaneously hammers my ear drums, makes me slowly melt and introduces me to the risk of getting my head kicked in by an angry scouser who thinks I was eyeing his woman who isn’t there. What exactly is going to happen to me in Modern Warfare 2? They’re only shooting me if you decide to extrapolate my consciousness onto the in-game character I’m using, and even so, the most they can do is ‘hurt’ the bunch of pixels I’m piloting around a virtual level with bullets so virtual the only hints that they exist are the fact I’m pressing fire and that the other bunch of pixels I was pointing at has fallen over.

Meanwhile, the British public drinks themselves into a stupor, sexes (yes, I used ‘sex’ as a verb) people they don’t know, whilst their face is caked in make-up and/or their shirt is covered in the vodka they spilt because they missed their mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I go to pub and clubs quite a bit, but I’m not that…terrible. Who are you to judge me? Do you remember last night? How’s the bastard child – oh, that’s right, you left before he was born, didn’t you? Just how did you manage that, since you’re a woman?

The difference between gaming and all of this? Stigma, born from a certain idiot lawyer who shares his a name with that of a gun and those other idiots that believe him. Anyone who even considers gaming to be dangerous is maybe just a bit uneducated, anyone who is told he is wrong over and over but proceeds to wave his gigantic ego about like a sword forged from the finest idiot in the fires of Mount Moron is a flat-out head case. Now when I mention gaming around the wrong type of person, their nose curls up like a salted snail whilst I stand there being judged like a serial killer.

The stigma is more than just that, though. It’s long been an assumption that only ‘geeks’ or ‘nerds’ play games, and that we’re all totally and utterly inept when it comes to, uh, what are they called? Oh right, ‘people’. Whatever they are. Well, not only is that not true, but geeks inherit the world and created the frickin’ future. iPods? PCs? TVs? All created by people who would be considered ‘geeks’ by the unwashed masses, yet if it wasn’t for them the entire planet would still be pushing a hoop with a stick. WITH A STICK.

So how about a little respect, eh?

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