Am I ashamed of calling myself a gamer?
Do I really feel embarassed to call myself a gamer? Am I letting one aspect of my life take too much control of the other parts?
Hello once again g1s to a blog that's a bit more serious than the last few I've penned. Just a heads up, this one involves a bit of introspection and some inner conflict involving my identity as a gamer. A bit of deep thought never hurt anyone though.
The other day I had the privilege of watching Tom the Iron Man do a 12-hour stream for the SGC Kickstarter. During the stream a conversation started up between people in the chat about how much we identify ourselves as gamers and how much we love the community here on ScrewAttack. More than one person there agree that some of our closest friends we haven't even met in real life; that moment got me thinking: have I let gaming become such a big part of who I am that I can only relate to other gamers now? That thought was immediately followed by another: should it even matter?
No doubt this is a bridge that many of us have already crossed or will come to cross in our lifetimes. Let's lay this out right now: gaming is a hobby; I love it and I don't mind spending time and money on it. Gaming has kept me entertained during snow days at home from school, on the boring days of summer, it has helped me to relax after stressful days, it led me to ScrewAttack, and it has even saved my life (literally). Despite these things I sometimes find myself questioning why I spend as much time on games (and ScrewAttack for that matter) as I do, and I'm even embarrassed to admit how much time I spend on them to friends and family who aren't gamers themselves.
I believe part of the answer may lie in the social stigma still tied to the medium. While gaming has become mainstream, most people will own one or two consoles with a handful of games, the idea of a hardcore gamer to non-gamers still seems to be people who just sit around all day in front of a tv or monitor. I certainly know that to not be the case, but often times when I say that I spend most of my free time playing video games to others I seem to get this look of either, "Oh really? Okay whatever" or "Oh...you're a total shut-in then. This is awkward now.” The former may not bother me but the latter can be somewhat disconcerting. This is doubly so when it's your own family. I grew up with video games but I think that some of my family just expected me to "grow out of it" and continue to see it as juvenile. They won't ever say anything but I can see it on their face and in their eyes and hear it in their voice. I've just given up saying that I spend my free time playing games because of this.
Right about now you're probably thinking that I shouldn't give a care what others think and that they just don't understand. Well there is a great deal of truth in that. Most people have a live-and-let-live approach to what others choose to do with their time and even the members of my family who look down on gaming are a minority (my dad's a bit of a gamer himself when he has the time). The problem is when I get the disappointment or awkward look/reaction from people that I expect to understand where I'm coming from. A dear friend of mine from college fits this perfectly.
You see, when I was in college I had a small group of friends and just about all of us where pretty into gaming (Steam mostly since we could all play together easily). Since then we've all graduated and gotten jobs (although most of us still play with each other online all the time), as luck would have it one of my friends from that group actually got me a job at the company he works for. Although we are both self-professed gamers, something seems different now than before. Now when I talk about gaming news or a game that I'm looking forward to my friend will seem disinterested and distant. When I expressed my interest in the Steam Summer Sale he laughs and says, "Just torrent that s***!" Even hinting at my interest at going to a gaming convention earns his laughter and may even end up being told to some of our co-workers. Needless to say, my faith in our friendship has been shaken.
This matter ties in with my second concern made evident when I took my job because I had to move to a different city where I knew very few people. Between my friendships being shaken and knowing very few people where I live now, it should come as no surprise that I sought the familiar comfort of video games and the gaming community here at ScrewAttack. Since I've moved to my new city I've been more active than I ever have been on this site because I feel welcomed and no one will bat an eye at anything nerdy I might say. There are some great people on this site too who seem genuinely happy to talk with me about pretty much anything.
However, I have to wonder if I'm simply feeding a vicious circle by spending my time online and on games than by going out and meeting people or drinking with my aforementioned friend all the time. It's not always just the common problem of starting to play a game and then being surprised that you've spent the last 6 hours on it either. If I think of things that I could do or extended an offer to do something, I'll start weighing that against staying at my apartment playing whatever I happen to be playing at the time. And if an entire weekend goes by and all I've done is play games then by the time I go to work on Monday I wonder if I even HAD a weekend at all. But the times when I do go out I usually have no one to go with; going to things like a shopping mall, a movie, or museum just don't seem as fulfilling when you're by yourself.
So what's the point in all this? Am I going to quit ScrewAttack and majorly cut back on the gaming? Probably not, this site and gaming mean too much to me. I love the antics of Craig and the Crew, I love hearing from a devoted and accepting community, and I love to look at my games and think that I have actually achieved something by playing and/or beating them. But the question still remains: have I let gaming take over too big a piece of my life and should I be concerned about admitting my hobby to others? To the latter, no; if they pass judgment on me based on who I am and what I do with my free time then they're not worth fretting over. But the former... the former I can't seem to answer right now. Perhaps it will come to me in time but for now I'm still conflicted. Still searching for an answer that I may already know but can't accept. Still wondering. Still gaming.
(By the way, if any g1s out there have any advice or similar musings, I'd love to hear it)