To Be A Gamer, You Have To...
I never fit. Ever. No matter what I do or how the industry changes, I am simply not synonymous with video games. Or so most say.
It's not just a matter of stereotypes; it's more about associations. For instance, if someone enjoys camping, most will assume they also like animals. If someone likes to sing karaoke, it's usually safe to assume that person is a music-lover. Various elements of our hobbies can and often are found in other leisure activities, so it's natural to make such assumptions. But here are a few that people make when they discover you're a gamer, and my corresponding reality:
You must like sci-fi; both reading it and watching it
Nah. There was a time when I loved Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series and I did enjoy "Firefly" but for the most part, I'm no sci-fi buff. I never understood the fascination with "Star Wars" and "Star Trek," I don't watch any sci-fi on TV or in the theaters, and as far as reading goes, I've stuck to the classics over the past five or six years. This is mostly because the classics vastly outstrip even the best contemporary work, but whatever.
You must've been into comic books...or maybe still are
Nope. I think I read a few Archie comic books at my grandmother's house when I was a kid, but that's about it. I'm pretty sure I never owned any myself and I didn't really care, either. It's just another obsession I've never grasped and thus, the superhero phase in Hollywood didn't really appeal to me, either. I did like the "Batman" movies, though. I guess comics have always been lumped into "geekdom" from the start, and that's unavoidable and undying.
You must like gadgets and all other electronic stuff, too
Wrong. I hate most all of them; I barely use my five-year-old cell phone and I couldn't possibly care less about smartphones. I basically despise the "social" Internet networks like Facebook and MySpace and Twitter. If I didn't use it for work, I'd probably only have a computer for writing and e-mail; I know very little about computers in general. I had some fun with remote-controlled cars back in the day, and those little handheld Tiger games, but that's about it. Games are my only electronic passion, really.
You must be in poor health
Coming from a family that encourages a good diet and exercise, and being athletic from the time I was in kindergarten, this is almost out of the question. This is usually the biggest surprise when the uneducated find out what I enjoy (and what I do). Many think I did play video games a lot, and then I discovered sunlight and decided to lose 100 pounds. I could tell them I've had a standard workout regiment for 8 years and I could probably curl them if they lay horizontal, but why bother? Their head will explode.
You must only play video games
The idea that anybody who plays a game once is immediately hooked for life came from the addiction scares of the '80s. And trust me, it really hasn't gone anywhere. For whatever reason, the clueless assume that if you're a gamer, that's all you are; it defines your life. The only way it's even close to reality for me is because it's my job; other than that, it's quite inaccurate. It's just another automatic assumption that has never encompassed me.
Like I said, I just don't fit. "To be a gamer, you have to..." seems to follow in the minds of the mainstream populace, and I'm not really complaining. It's only natural to make connections. I'm just wondering how many others don't fit the mold, so-to-speak. And P.S.- the reason I chose this picture is because most girls don't play their games wearing underwear and high heels. It's about as rare as finding a gamer like me, I suppose.
4/15/2011 Ben Dutka