A Difference of Opinions on Gaming

From the day I began playing video games, my parents and I have been at odds with one another about the merits of gaming. In gaming, I saw a world of opportunities. Not only could they help me to relieve stress from my everyday life, but they also provided me with new and interesting ways to interact with others and challenge myself in a myriad of new ways that would have been impossible to experience in the non-gaming world. However, my parents did not share this love for gaming as I did. On the contrary, they consistently reminded me that I was wasting my time and should be focusing on other aspects of my life, such as my studies or swimming.  They believed that the games consumed too much of my time and effort, unbalancing my life and distancing me from reality. To a certain extent, they were right. I did spend too many long hours on online games, often sacrificing my weekends to the games which so enthralled me.  I also occasionally prioritized the games over other areas of my life which deserved more of my time.

However, my parents neglected some of the intrinsic benefits of playing video games. As I briefly touched on before, games can serve to relieve anxiety and provide an excellent outlet for negative emotions. Furthermore, games can provide online forums for interactions between diverse people, such as in the case of World of Warcraft. Although the game centers on the storyline and fighting, players are constantly in contact with one another, possibly exchanging different opinions on guild chat, learning how to utilize the online economy to their advantage, or gaining other general insights that can be applied to real-world situations. Nonetheless, my parents retained their negative views on gaming, thereby ignoring the intrinsic worth of it.

When it came to my friends’ opinions on gaming, there stood a sharp divide among them. This divide arose from the separation between gamers who only enjoyed console games, and those who enjoyed other types of games like MMOs. To most of my friends, playing massively popular console games such as Call of Duty was perfectly alright. However, when one ventured into the realm of online MMOs such as World of Warcraft, he or she might as well have committed social suicide. A small group of closer friends disagreed with this notion. These select few believed that, in moderation, any type of gaming was acceptable because one should do whatever makes one happy.

Thus, many of my friends and my parents have disapproved of my gaming habits throughout my life. Even those who supported me in my choice to game often believed I played games too much. However, I contend that games do retain merit and can teach important life lessons, even if my friends and family cannot share my passion and respect for gaming.



Nerd Cred and the Gateway MMO

One year, when I was still in elementary school, my mother found that she needed advice. Dad’s birthday was coming up, and she simply did not know what to get him. So, being the kind and thoughtful person she is, she phoned Uncle Pat, one of Dad’s best friends, for some help. “Try Everquest,” he said. “I’ve got it and it’s a lot of fun. I think he’d like it.”

After that, our lives were never the same.

Mom unknowingly went down to the store and picked up what I like to call the gateway drug of MMOs, and much to her dismay, both of her daughters and her husband have been hooked ever since. Though I never played Everquest myself, I enjoyed watching my dad play. To my eight-year-old mind it looked like a movie, but you were the main character! It was YOU who got to slay monsters and explore a new world and outfit yourself with armor befitting a great hero. When I got a little older, I stepped into the online worlds of Guild Wars, SWG, and others, and never looked back.

I think, because I grew up with games, I have learned how to not let them affect me too much. I have an ‘rl’ life much larger than the one I have online, and never let a game release get in the way of homework. I’m also pretty picky about which games I like, so I’ve never had to watch my spending either. It’s the way I present my gaming to the world at large that has always required delicacy. Mostly it’s a matter of who I’m talking to. When asked what writing seminar I was taking by a fellow first-year, I would say, “The one where we get to play video games for class.” Though this is somewhat inaccurate, it allowed me to not only avoid the social stigma of the ‘online gamer’ but to arouse jealousy in the questioner, who usually had a seminar in the wonderful and captivating field of British War Writing. With my friends, however, I could brag all I wanted about the fact that not only was my homework to watch The Fellowship of the Ring, I got to play LotRO for college credit. It’s all about the audience. Not everyone responds to the same things.

That’s not to say that I am not proud to be a nerd, a geek, or a sci-fi aficionado. I just know how to balance them so that those on the outside (you know, the normal people. There’s one! Did you see him?) can still be friends with me–whether or not they speak Klingon (just for the record, I HAVE NEVER STUDIED KLINGON–seriously). Though gaming is one of my favorite things to do, it’s not all I do, nor is it ever all anyone does. If anything, gaming this semester has merely given me extra nerd cred with my high school friends, and made some classmates green with envy. So why is there even a stigma associated with gaming? I could go on all day on that, but, it’s another post.

May the Force be with you!