Sunday Thoughts: Taking A Step Back

The other week we told you about James Cameron’s harsh comments about gamers. You can read the full story here, but the point I’ll be focusing on is that Sigourney Weaver’s character was designed in response to gamers as she abuses her own body by smoking and drinking, caring only for her Avatar which, according to the film’s director, reflects the way that gamers care more about their virtual personas than their real live selves. Naturally, every gamer from here to Pallet Town has climbed atop their high horse yelling about blasphemy and hypocrisy. Now whilst I admit it is silly for James Cameron of James Cameron’s Avatar The Game to speak so lowly about the very people he’s targeting, I have to admit that he has a very good point.

To begin this tale we have to go way back to 2008, the (first) “year of the PS3” (pft!) as I remember. During a conversation with some friends from America I remembered the greatness that was the Pokémon franchise and decided to revisit the series. So soon after the anime, I decided it was high time I began my own adventure and purchased a lovely DS lite along with Pokémon Platinum. From the moment of this purchase on, the second day of, a holiday to Northern Ireland until the day that I left, two weeks later, I accumulated 24 hours of play. That’s a whole day of a holiday poured into training some Pokémon and advancing an adventure.

Even once I defeated the elite four and got my national Pokédex, I decided I wanted to literally catch em’ all and get the perfect level 100 team. I was spending horrendous amounts of time training virtual creatures into becoming as perfect as they could become and suddenly one day it struck me, if I can spend 100 or so hours training Pokémon to be better and stronger, why can’t I spend any time training myself to be better and stronger.

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For most of my teenage life, I’d been somewhat of a skinny creature. You wouldn’t really have noticed because I wore clothes which covered it well and don’t have a personality that would suggest I was at all self concious, but under my loud and stealthily clothed exterior was someone who wasn’t very happy with himself. Every year I told myself I would actually do something about it and get bigger, but it wasn’t until I actually saw the triple figure play time of my quest to become a Pokémon master that I realised just how ridiculous the situation was.

I was one of those people James Cameron was talking about which is why I can agree with him. As gamers we all feel the need to rise up and defend ourselves like a Kangaskhan protecting its young whenever anyone tries to make even a passing comment about our hobby. But stepping back and looking at yourself can sometimes show that they have a point. I’m in no way accusing any of you of being like I was, but maybe there are one or two out there that can think that they tend to spend more time on their Call of Duty level than I do on their own “level”.

Taking that step back was what made me realise. I’d always said that I would start eating properly, or doing more exercise, but it wasn’t until I actually realised how utterly pointless training a team of virtual creatures, that I probably won’t give a shit about in a couple of years, was in comparison to how much time I spent on myself that it became clear to me. Five months on from my epiphany and I feel like a very different person. I won’t drag on here for fear of sounding like a workout plan testimonial, but I did make a change and I have felt very positive effects.

I have also doubled that hundred hour play count in those five months, which I suppose is still pretty ridiculous, but I didn’t feel that it was because I was working out. We all know that there are gamers out there who do care more about their “avatars” than themselves as people, and we all know that it is those gamers that give the bad name for everyone else. Though at the same time, we can’t ever let ourselves look down on them too much because most of us, at one time or another probably have cared more about the avatars representing us than us representing ourselves and it’s probably not until we’ve really thought about it that we can actually realise that this has taken place.

Can you see any of the “avatar attitude” in yourself? More importantly, if you can, is it something you’ll change? Or is that just me?

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