Growing up, the title of “Gamer” always brought to mind a lonely person sitting in a dark room, their eyes unable to be peeled from either a computer or television screen. They had removed themselves from the typical world in order to completely immerse themselves in another. This probably stemmed from my parents opinions as they quickly took my Gameboy away from me after having it only two days. They were frightened that I would “become too obsessed and therefore antisocial.” To them, a young child playing a video game was a young child without friends to play with. As I got older, that didn’t change. Whether it was my parents or my friends, the people around me tended to have very similar opinions of gamers. If you were playing a video game, you were missing out on life. You couldn’t be part of a fictional world and the real one. It was a choice. There was no “and”, only an “or”. However, it wasn’t long before I made friends who were just as obsessed with video games as they were socializing outside of their technology filled basements. That didn’t change my other friends’ opinions. If we didn’t hear from our “gamer” friends for a couple days, or they missed a great party, the excuse people always gave for them was “they are probably sitting in their basements playing video games.” It was a running joke that that was all they did on Saturday nights. And I can’t lie, sometimes that was true. But what was also true was that a lot of the time my “gamer “ friends were right there with us. Whether it was at a movie, party, or just dinner, they could always pull themselves away from the game. But it was the select times when they chose not to that people remembered, that people judged. They were the exceptions on which my friends built the rule.
My friends liked joke that you have probably all heard before. It’s the image of a girl sitting in her boyfriend’s basement as he plays video games for hours on end and completely ignores her. The girl, tired of being ignored, is then faced with a choice. She can either join him or leave him. From there, of course, the boyfriend is either saddened for a moment before forgetting about the girl once again consumed by the game, or the girl becomes just as obsessed. Suddenly, their relationship is simply a consistent series of nights sitting in the basement next to each other gaming. No talking, no romance, just gaming. To my friends, these were the only two options. There was no middle ground, no compromising. Once again, I won’t lie to you. It might be a sad truth but they weren’t 100% wrong. Not even 80% wrong. I’ve been that girlfriend, sitting in her boyfriend’s basement as he played video games for hours. He would sit at one television, his brother at another. They would play separate games and only talk to let out either a groan when defeated or a cheer when leveling up. My boyfriend’s brother would always ask me if I wanted to borrow his computer so that I could online shop while they played. As a girl I was stereotypically supposed to love shopping just like as gamers they were supposed be hermits. My friends didn’t understand why I put up with it: the nights filled with only videogames. To them, that was all our relationship consisted of. How could it be more when all he did was play games? How could he do more than play videogames if he was a gamer? But I knew the truth; I knew these types of nights weren’t every night. In fact, they were a fairly rare occurrence. But, there was no convincing my friends and because of their stubborn beliefs I began to question my own. They could only remember the bad, but could I only remember the good? Were we both just as confused and narrow-minded? To this day, I can’t answer that question. I don’t know if gamers are missing out on the real world or just lucky enough to be able to mange being part of two at once. I like to think that if people work hard enough they can have it all. Life doesn’t have to be a series of choices. Sometimes there can be an “and” in the midst of all those “or”s.