Cody “Kingblunkers” Allison is here once again to talk about the world of video gaming.
I’ve briefly mentioned it in other posts, but today I wanted to start the discussion about the responsibilities you and I have as gamers. I was inspired after watching the extra credits series from Penny Arcade. They mainly focus on game design/development. I wanted to flip it and talk about the players.
Gaming is getting bigger every year. However, I know many people don’t understand that I want to spend my weekends playing games. Even more so, sometimes I actually enjoy watching games more than I do playing. I believe there is still a stigma that video games are for children, teens, and a waste of time. I know at my workplace I have no problem talking in depth about my hobbies and pastimes with my peers, but feel like if I were to talk to a high executive or someone in true power then suddenly this is a topic that is no longer an inside look at what I’m passionate about. It’s a judgement of my character which may translate into a judgement into my work life.
Think about your workplace. Do you ever once question the guy who loves football, or do we think twice about the girl who goes hiking every weekend? Not at all. These are accepted as appropriate hobbies for any person. It is hard to change what people think but the best place to start is ourselves. There are fundamental tendencies and behaviors that I see in the gaming world and sometimes when I hear a stereotype about gamers that I don’t like… I don’t have much to argue against because I know myself and other gamers have been childish, rude, or uninviting while partaking in our hobby.
Today I want to talk about Inclusion.
Inclusion, meaning the act of including others. I often see within the gaming community we get extremely passionate about things we like and extremely harsh against games we don’t like.
Going to break down the two categories, Newcomers and Real Gamers.
Many gamers are lifelong gamers. In my life I’ve owned the following game systems
NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega Gamegear, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, N64, PS2, XBOX 360
Gamecube, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 2DS, PC games, then add the other consoles I played at friend’s houses.
I think you get the point…
Take for instance my wife. She grew up only owning a Gamecube. With the exception of Super Mario Sunshine, the games she played weren’t exactly popular. Nonetheless, she still loves to play games.
However, our massive differing video game histories shows in what games we can actually play. My wife cannot play first anything where she must control which way she moves looks with two joysticks is generally a no-go. I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my favorite games is Portal 2, which has an AMAZING Co-op mode. She can’t play this because of the mechanics. She didn’t grow up with this, it is a completely unnatural motion that she would have to intentionally learn. I could easily say she sucks at video games, but that is not true. She’s just not the same gamer I am. We’ve played Super Mario sunshine and she has the same amount of enjoyment bouncing on the Pianta’s heads, as me getting shine sprites. Lego Lord of the Rings… I like getting bonus Lego pieces… She likes riding goats in the shire.
And it is easy to work through those differences as a married couple. Some games she just says “Nope, you have fun” and I’m okay with that, because anytime a Mario platformer game rolls around, I know she will play because that is something we can enjoy together. Most of the gamers you interact with are not your significant others. They are randos on reddit, or that person in the in-game voice chat, and once their performance meets a level you believe is too low for you to be around we start flaming that person. I know that is probably the biggest problem for League of Legends, newcomers are torn to shreds, and often the player base hides behind the idea that “That’s just the way it is, and League is Competitive, no room for bad players”
But understand, maybe that person’s parents didn’t allow video games? Maybe this PC game is the very first install after this newcomer spent all of there money on their a brand new laptop, (which probably is under recommended specs for this game in the first place.) The point is, we all started somewhere, mine was 20 years ago… so I have to remind myself to consider other people’s experiences.
Another big area of conflict regarding inclusion is what we decide is a “real” game. I was exposed to the Call of Duty franchise. And specifically the one I enjoyed most was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Between my and my 5 siblings we had quite the collection. We would play online in CoD and take turns each match, then spend a couple hours on the GameCube playing Animal Crossing. We went from chaotic warfare, to a quiet simulation game in a town where animals were your neighbors and you’d run around town paying off debt for your house and fishing to pass time. And I remember talking to my friends in middle school and being told that Animal Crossing wasn’t a real game. It wasn’t hardcore, it wasn’t manly, or difficult or thrilling. And those things are true. It is peaceful, it is adorable, and just wholesome.
Variety is the spice of life
That’s a thing I LOVE about the video game industry. The amount of stories and situations we can explore all in the same afternoon. But even growing up into my adult life, I certainly feel I own Animal Crossing for 2DS. And I still occasionally like to turn that game on, pick some weeds, clean up my town, and donate fossils to the city’s museum… which is run by an owl named Blathers.
And those of you who share a strong passion for League of Legends, or CS:GO or Call of Duty might think Animal Crossing is stupid. But the point is, we all have our own preference and we need to do a better job at expressing that while we may not understand someone else’s love of a particular game, we dignify it and respect it. Because they may equally not understand our own favorite picks.
“I Don’t Get it!”
I’m not perfect. A friend and I recently played through the game “Never Alone”. A game highly regarded in the video game world. It has an honest and respectful way of telling the history and culture of natives to Alaska. My friend and I enjoyed it, but in a mean way. We laughed at how stupid we thought the game was. We powered through the whole thing in one evening. On the very last mission the game bugged out and we couldn’t finish it. We didn’t walk away loving this game. Even though its an award winning game. And I think simply, both of us, didn’t want to care for history lesson at that time. Maybe right then, I didn’t want a history lesson, I just wanted a hack and slash and feel like a conqueror.
To wrap up
I think a lot of time both gamers and non-gamers have a hard time understanding and accepting videogames as a legitimate hobby. Beyond just being a hobby, some games move me to tears, some games make me laugh. I think they are just as much, if not more, expressive than other common art mediums (T.V., movies, theater) My challenge to you is to branch out! Find someone who doesn’t play video games and try to share it with them.
the only way you gaming can be taken seriously is if we respect is for what it is. Truly Art.
Cody “Kingblunkers” Allison