I want to start this article by saying that what I am about to talk about I wish wasn’t even an issue. I would hope by now that my hobby would be embraced by the general population, and that they did not think of me as kid for enjoying it. Unfortunately that’s not the case and that is why we are all gathered here today.
It’s hard being an adult gamer. I mean it’s not being repressed by the Third Reich bad, but going about my day-to-day life can be difficult in social situations. Now I know what you’re thinking, but it has nothing to do with the clichés that most people think of when they think of gamers. I exercise by hitting the gym several times a week and even took up archery this year (which seems to be the new hip thing). I am actually a social creature by nature and live several hundred miles from my mother’s basement. I love going out and meeting new people and my collection of real life friends is quite large. I am very blessed that I have many friends who share similar interests and are willing to discuss them over a drink or two with me.
The problem comes in when I am dealing with new people and family. It’s not the easiest subject to bring up with any of them. In a perfect world, saying, “I was a highly ranked player in the Unreal Tournament circuit” or “I’m training for the EVO Street Fighter nationals,” would at least warrant a “that’s awesome” or even a “good for you!” response. Sadly, trying to explain my hobby to outsiders more often than not gives me the common response of, “Oh…” in the most dismissive way possible. It’s said as if what I do for a hobby is less important by leaps and bounds than what past times they engage in.
All things considered, I make a pretty respectable income, pay all my bills on time, and live a fairly comfortable life. What I do with my free time should mean absolutely nothing to you. The problem I have with any of this, is that the indifferent reaction of “oh” is so commonplace that it makes me furious.
Recently I’ve taken a technical position where my hobby is a little more widely accepted, but previous to this career change I was working in a job where I often dealt with very prestigious doctors and lawyers in not only a technical but also in a professional aspect. I did a lot of traveling, and had many meetings with various important people related to my field. Even though I was among my peers in age, when they asked me what I enjoyed for entertainment outside of work they looked at me as though I was a child for enjoying gaming or simply dismissed it as, “Well you are the tech guy for your company”.
Now, I don’t think that this will be an issue in later generations. Much like pastimes such as being a “film buff”, I fully expect that gaming will find its place in the “acceptable” American hobbies much the way that collecting firearms, model painting or collecting World War Two paraphernalia has become. With the rise of gaming in the mainstream through things like the Major Gaming League and the Pro Gamer League, we inch closer and closer to having our hobby be accepted into the modern culture.
Is it still going to take time for this hobby to become socially acceptable? Very much so, but my generation is one that was picked on in our youth for being “obsessive” about our hobby. We were those kids you see in movies getting beat up on for being nerds. We get the credit of people saying that the world is run by geeks, but that does not help us at the end of the day when we are trying to go about our day to day lives. We have only been blessed that “casual” games like Call of Duty and Rock Band have come out that the main stream sees as “acceptable” that we can discuss our hobby more freely without AS MUCH negative commentary from our peers, and while those games can be seen as enjoyable they should not be the basis for what other view our passion as. Frankly, dropping 100 hours into a rich RPG story should be praised the same way as someone that drops four hours in a war game.
Now, I hope that those of you reading this don’t care what other people think of your hobby. You should always embrace what you love no matter what others think. What I would like to do is to hurry down that future where when dad or mom (or ideally both of them) put the kids down for the night and decide to boot up their PS9 or Xbox 1000 they can enjoy gaming without fear of being made fun of at the water cooler at work the next day when they discuss how their evening went. While I might not enjoy the same recreational pastimes as other people, I never disparage them for their passions and I think that is something that everyone should try and embrace.
In the end, despite what everyone else thinks, enjoy and love your hobby. If they don’t get it, well fuck them and hopefully, someday, the masses will turn around and appreciate that you are just as passionate about what you do in your free time as everyone else.
With that, good night and good game. Now go out there and save yourself a princess.