Life, The Universe, And Gaming: When Loving Gaming Goes Too Far
Gaming’s great, right?
In the real world, we might compare gaming to that really cool guy everybody knows who makes for great company, gets on with everyone, and is never shy to take over a conversation and just entertain anyone around. Gaming is, in that way, the social butterfly of entertainment. But in this analogy, what exactly does that make us, the gamer? If not some friend to gaming, are we then some overly obsessed fan instead?
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When you think of it like that, the fervent passion with which gaming is treated seems almost ridiculous. It would be on stalker level, borderline restraining order level if gaming were an actual person, but somehow it’s alright to dote over it and cause actual, legitimate rifts with other people simply because they don’t agree with you and your way of thinking.
And don’t you dare read this thinking it doesn’t apply to you. If someone hates a game you enjoy, you are just as guilty of being a hypocrite as someone who likes a game that you hate. I will explain in due time.
The idea for this particular column came about through two ways. The first was quite simply, a chat that I had the other day with Dean regarding the various opinions of our writers and how they sometimes clash. We are very thankful for these clashing mindsets and welcome any and all debate because it means that we grow as a group and can exhibit some relevant diversity that transcends basic race, age, social class and other irrelevant differences.
The second involves a recent thought process of mine that came about through some soul searching that I have been doing. I am in my early twenties now, and where a lot of my age-equivalent friends are working and earning a living, or in the process of doing so, I see no such future for myself at least insofar as regular living goes. I don’t see myself as the type of person who spends so many years studying, only to slot into some menial job for the rest of my life where all I exist to do is earn money which I will then spend on myself or save, until I start a family and live out some traditional life until I die. It all seems so banal and meaningless in the bigger picture.
For what it’s worth I’d really like to do more of this gaming stuff and leave my mark on the world, whether it extends to other forms of media such as vlogs, video shows and so on, or whether it is just personal growth as a writer in the gaming industry. I’d also like to push other avenues of gaming such as promotion, at shopping malls and so on.
This thought pattern, however, got me to wondering how far I wish to take this gaming fascination of mine. Ever since I can remember, gaming had me hook, line and sinker. From begging my parents to visit a particular cousin so I could nag him to let me play games on his PC to sneaking a game out of a friend’s house so I could play it at home before returning it (which I did, I’m no thief). I see people who are now in their thirties, forties or later, who are gaming, and it gets me wondering: just how far down does this rabbit hole go?
I have never seen gaming as a hobby or enthusiast pastime. It’s a passion sure, but it’s also a way of life for me. My ideal night does not involve forgoing other activities in favour of gaming, my ideal night just involves gaming. The difference here is that I don’t even consider other activities on the same level as gaming. If anything those other activities are just hindrances to my gaming time. Sure I do other things; I read, I watch series, movies, listen to music, write of course, I even play sport when I get a chance to. There is a lot more to me than just gaming, however gaming is a quintessential component of my life now and I don’t see how I could go about my life devoid of it.
And that’s really where I’m coming from here. We can all agree that gaming is great, but what exactly are we doing with our lives here? Is there some sort of productive reason to play games? Were our parents correct all along in saying that we’re just being immature and should grow up and stop playing games? I can’t see myself believing that for a second, but I have to ask: Where exactly are we as gamers going?
Some of you of course are not as fervent gamers as I am. Some of you just play games, and that’s perfectly fine. I try to play as much as I can, where my consumption of games is on the absolute highest level without sacrificing my life entirely. I like to think I can make a good balance of things but the truth is that anything I do that isn’t gaming, is gaming time that I am sacrificing, the way I see it.
Someone who was close to me recently posited that my gaming habits would be the reason I died alone. Now that might sound extreme to any of us who are fervent gamers, and I don’t believe that for a moment, but there is some truth to it. See, it is my opinion that when we take gaming so importantly in our lives, where we worship it, then it blinds us to certain things. An example would be potential partners. Thankfully this isn’t as bad any more as gaming hits the mainstream and we can share our passions with others, but it’s still something of an issue when the deal-breaker for you involves having to leave home because it robs you of gaming time. How will you ever experience life? Although conversely, what’s to say you aren’t already? Besides, all those old women living with their cats for company were not gamers…
Let’s take all of this and apply some practical examples of what I’m talking about. We can begin with the recently released triple-A titles DmC, Dead Space 3 and Aliens: Colonial Marines. Those are pretty much the only games I can talk about for this year anyway. Do you know that DmC is actually underperforming in sales, despite being an excellent offering from Ninja Theory? How about that Dead Space 3 is being billed as the worst in the series, despite receiving rave reviews from various critics? We don’t have to talk about Aliens: Colonial Marines because it’s apparently a piece of shit that shit shits, but we can perhaps mention that it has sold well thus far because of its name. No surprises there.
Do we as gamers have a right to be dumbstruck when a game the likes of DmC, which for all intents and purposes has been receiving mass critical successes, fails to sell as well as it should? Do we have a right to then point fingers and blame at people who report these things to the world, as if they’re the reason that the game hasn’t been selling well? Fanboyism is a two-way street and while there are those who have hated on the game since its announcement, there are those who have defended it just as passionately. And neither are right, just like neither are wrong.
In October last year, we gave you an article about the massive disappointment that Assassin’s Creed III was. I didn’t agree with that article at all, and while there were certain points where I understood where critics were coming from, I still felt that some leeway could have been offered in lieu of previous titles in the series, or production values or what have you. Now for all my disagreements with that article, I did not take it personally, nor swear bloody vengeance on the writer. Why? Because gaming just isn’t that fucking serious. It really isn’t.
When it came to picking a game of the year, I hadn’t yet played Far Cry 3 so I attacked the mention of it as a contender because I claimed that those who had played it were hyped. Nobody retorted to that, very thankfully, but when I got around to playing it and realising what an excellent offering it was, I went about correcting myself and apologising for being so hard-headed about it. That said, I personally felt that the same courtesy was not afforded to me regarding Mass Effect 3, in various circles. Apparently if a game garners enough negative attention then it cannot be considered for such an honour, regardless of the subjectivity of that attention.
It’s okay to love gaming. It’s a great thing that can be your crutch when you really need something to get you out of the dumps or keep your head afloat. Like a Companion Cube. But don’t stray beyond the line of enjoying a pastime and become a fanboy. A gaming fanboy. Gaming can and does do wrong from time to time, and it’s okay to call it out on that. Don’t creep out the social butterfly of a person that gaming is, with your incessant adoration. It exists for our entertainment and of course, to part us with loads of our (or our parents’) hard-earned cash. It doesn’t exist to create feuds and angry words between friends.
Once again, I am not merely addressing those who criticise games but also those who defend them. Just like a hater is blind to a game’s strengths, a fanboy is blind to a game’s flaws, and you really need to stop, step back and really look at the debate as a cohesive argument before you begin hating someone for always being negative about a game, or equally so, hating someone for always being positive about a game. Likewise, liking someone simply because they share your sentiments. That doesn’t make them more likeable than the person who disagrees with you, or it shouldn’t. It’s okay to disagree. Healthy, even.
But for the love of gaming, stop being a fucking blinded lover with rose-tinted spectacles and learn to take the bad with the good.
You’re just creeping everyone out.