Editorial: All Gamers Are Weird
Of course, I'm not referring to the casual gamer who occasionally jumps online to play a round of CoD or plays Bejeweled once a week.
This is in reference to the avid hardcore gamers; those who list video games as a primary hobby in the same way sports nuts list watching the Super Bowl as a top priority in February. This is also in reference to gamers of a certain age; I'm not talking about the hardcore teenager or 20-year-old, although the "weird" label can certainly apply in many such circumstances.
Look, I've been doing this long enough to know that in any circle, professional and social, where the average age is 30+, the term "gamer" holds a certain stigma. It's unavoidable. And that's because in the history of video games, the only "hardcore" gamers in the 80s were the friendless, unpopular kids in school. It was akin to being a comic book geek, a "Star Wars" fanatic, or a Dungeons & Dragons "addict" (according to any parents of the 80s, anybody who played D&D was a dangerous addict). Those labels have persisted. They've persisted and taken root.
In only the past week, I've encountered this fact in a number of different situations. I'm not about to talk about them - because they're just so unbelievably stupid - but let's just say it was a wake-up call; a harsh reminder that no matter how popular this industry gets, no matter how many 20-year-olds find it to be perfectly normal, the age gap means there are completely different views of gamers. And you know, those in the wrong, those suffering from archaic stereotypes, have absolutely no desire to be corrected. None.
"Oh, well, you know I started my journalism career with the newspapers...three of them, working my way up from local news to major features." "Yeah, I like to play, but I mean...I read "War and Peace" last year, among about fifteen other classics." "What? ...oh, yeah...I work out, six times a week. Have done so for eight years." "No, I don't play forty hours a week. I work in the industry and I still don't play that much." "...only playing? No, it's 90% writing, I would say..." "Outside? Yes, I like to go outside. ...no, not just to see the sun for the first time in a week."
I could say all that in reply (and I have in the past) but it's entirely meaningless. Biased ears are permanently closed and aren't receptive to the truth. Even those who know little to nothing about video games are immediately inclined to believe the worst, and are more likely to just ignore you for the sake of their own safety and sanity. There was a time when this used to anger me. Then I tried to figure out if there was a way past this barrier, if the social and professional sphere of the 30-somethings who aren't gamers would ever voice their acceptance.
But now I'm just indifferent.
I have no desire to correct. No interest in educating. No pressing need to enlighten. But permit me the rolling of eyes and perhaps a rude gesture when you've turned your back...which, by the way, was intensely rude of you in the first place.
3/2/2012 Ben Dutka