Does Gaming Affect Your Social Life?
It's a question no gamer wants to ask another gamer, as he's often afraid of the answer. However, although we all recognize just how mainstream the hobby has become over the past few decades, the question is just as relevant as ever.
What would be interesting to know is if an avid gamer would be willing to sacrifice an evening out to play his new title. Over the years, I've realized that certain stereotypes simply don't die; even though most will acknowledge that gaming doesn't automatically translate to "geek-dom," they still think that gamers have out-of-whack priorities. They will freely accept your chosen hobby and won't make nearly as many assumptions as they used to back in the day, but why do so many people believe that only one thing matters in a gamer's life? Certain minorities don't make the situation any better, either: a buddy I know works with a girl who is married to an EverCrack addict, and for the most part, it's a non-existent marriage. Unfortunately, for the uninitiated, they don't see any difference between that dude and me (for example). Hell, I work as a video game journalist so I must be even worse, right?
I think that's the problem I'm running into more often than not. "All gamers are nerds" is almost extinct, but many still refuse to make any distinctions in the gaming crowd. I still don't start off conversations with my job because of this, and not surprisingly, when I do make it known to my discussion partner, they seem downright shocked. And it's not always because I don't fit the so-called "mold" - like I said, the nerd/gamer association is dying out, thankfully - but more so because I'm there, talking to them. Wouldn't I rather be home playing my favorite game? There's nothing wrong with that, they may add, but they just figured the big gamers did that. Now, I have been known to sacrifice time out-of-doors to play a game, but it's not often; it often revolves around the weather and the nature of the "out-of-doors." If it involves people I have no interest in, why torture myself just so I can say I was "out?" I'm too old to deal with adolescent priorities that put "appearance" at the top of the list.
Did I skip college parties to play Final Fantasy Tactics? Yep. Did I avoid the club on a freezing, snowy night to play Prince of Persia? Yes, I did. However, have I ever said "no" to doing something social I wanted to do so I could stay home and play? Nope. Perhaps that's the real question: is gaming keeping you from doing things you would otherwise do? Socially? And if you're older, has it changed? Did you do this at one point, but don't do it any longer? I'd be interested to see the responses.
4/10/2009 Ben Dutka