Ever since, hmm, I’m gonna say the invention of Pacman, roughly, people have had a lot of bad things to say about video games. I was going to litter that first sentence with examples, but I haven’t figured out how to link my blog to the numerous moments in time when my parents told me that playing video games was a waste of time. Yet.
Except for Tetris. No one has ever said anything bad about Tetris, aside from the occasional string of swearing WHEN YOU GET A FRIGGIN’ “Z” PIECE AT THE WRONG TIME. [x]
Even though I’m don’t call myself a “Gamer,” I have been known to, from time to time, get so absorbed in a video game I have to remind myself to eat play some video games. Because of this, *ahem* minor hobby, I tend to fall in with the people who support video games as a viable and not-useless form of recreation. In fact, video games have reached such a high level of popularity that not only do people tend to forget that gaming is actually a pretty nerdy thing to do, but there are comedians like Kumail Nanjiani who regularly discuss video games in their stand up. If you don’t want to listen to a Pakistani man discuss his experience with racially insensitive game design, don’t click the link (Seriously though, listen to his album. He’s pretty great.)
“I’ve logged over 1000 hours on these, but I’m not like, a nerd.” [x]
What Mr. Nanjiani is talking about is the game Call of Duty, which for my older audience is a series of games in which you play various soldiers and complete missions set in famous wars. It’s pretty widely considered the McDonald’s of games (way too common, shows you might have poor taste even though everyone’s done it.) I don’t play Call of Duty. I tend to enjoy games with very involved stories where you are forced to make choices, commonly known as role-playing games.
“But Sam,” you ask, “couldn’t you just read a book or something?”
Yes I could, and yes I do, but ‘video games’ was all I needed to complete the “Reading Fantasy Novels – Browsing Tumblr – Free Space – Blogging” bingo for my How to Get Bullied in High School Bingo card. Honestly though, video games have reached a level where they are like interactive books. So yeah, sometimes I get lost in them, and I’m not ashamed to admit that.
Kumail Nanjiani also touches on the ‘video games are super awesome now’ point, but mentions another common criticism; “Video games aren’t for kids anymore.” This isn’t something I normally have to consider in my defense of gaming, but a recent experience kind of brought this home for me. On my recent flight to Shanghai, there was a Flight Attendant who stuck out to me. I’m going to call him Jerry, because he looked didn’t look like a Phillip. Jerry was one of those people who was always happy, and always bursting with energy, and probably really likes his job. In essence: a jerk.
Anyway, Jerry seemed to like me. You might be thinking, “Male flight attendant who paid extra attention to you? Sam I have something to tell you…” but I didn’t come here for you to make snap judgments about Jerry, so keep it to yourself. I try to be nice to people who spend their time helping me, a revolutionary idea, so it’s always cool to figure out who appreciates that.
Jerry was good at smalltalk, ended up giving me two beers (which I’m not sure if I should have been charged for) and even lent me a DC converter so that I could charge my laptop. Here’s where I connect the dots: My laptop needed charge because I used it to play video games on the flight. I wanted to plug it in so that I could play more video games, because honestly there’s nothing better for sitting in your chair for fourteen hours than a good video game. I noticed later, however, that Jerry’s attitude toward me changed throughout the flight. He started out calling me the commonly used “sir,” and by the time I left I was “buddy.” His body language and tone changed too, going from an exchange between equals to a more unintentionally condescending attitude, and all I can think of is that the man watched me play video games on my laptop.
Now I don’t mean to say that Jerry was anything but awesome, and I don’t mind being called “buddy,” especially since he was significantly older than I am. It was strange, though, to have a man who handed me two alcoholic beverages without checking my ID treat me like a teenager, which is how I am assuming he began to see me. I could almost see his perspective shift when he noticed me engaging in the “juvenile” activity of playing a video game. I figure he didn’t mean anything by it, and I don’t hold it against him.
But for goodness sake, I was traveling alone, to Shanghai. I have a job, and a full beard (which doesn’t hide my baby face, but still.) I am, for all intents and purposes, a full-fledged adult. I’m gonna play some video games if I damn well please.