The Embarrassment of Playing Games
written by El Pollo
A question has come up a few times regarding how the topics are chosen for Game Post editorials. Usually, if something comes up on message boards or newsgroups that particularly interests me, I steal… uh… am inspired by it and write my views on that topic. A few weeks back, a question was brought up about whether each of us are embarrassed to admit to playing games. It’s interesting, because even though I’ll admit to sometimes shying away from mentioning I play PC games, I don’t really think much about it anymore.
I guess it goes back to the days of the Atari 2600. Back then everyone had one, and I don’t remember there being much of a stigma attached to those who played Atari games. Of course I was also young, and played enough dodgeball and kickball to present myself as a pretty active little kid. Terms similar to “dork” referred more to the clothes you wear than the activities you did. Those were innocent times that carried on to my adolescence when the Commodore 64 came into prominence. There were more things to worry about like the kind of people I hung out with and the music I listened to, but games still didn’t factor much into “coolness” or lack thereof.
Then came highschool. A time when you’re constantly under a microscope (or at least it seemed that way), and everything you did spoke volumes about the kind of person you’re perceived to be. The jocks and the popular crowd tended to hang out together, while the nerds and outcasts crept around the hallways usually with their minds in their own little worlds. I ran with the troublemakers of the school, so we were neither liked nor disliked by the other groups. Okay, so we were as bad as a bunch of students from a science and tech magnet school could be, but I tell you what, you had better not mess with our pocket protectors! Being bad had its plusses. Anything you do, chances are, won’t tarnish your reputation. Well almost, because I started to become aware that mentioning things like that hot new 386 with the 120 MB hard drive that I got, wasn’t the coolest thing in the world to be talking about. That popular chick ain’t going to go out with you if you talked about things like “Might and Magic III” or “Ultima 6”. All she cared about was whether she could cheat off of you on the tests. As uncool as computer games started becoming in my mind, it still wasn’t that big a deal, since there’s always something else to do or talk about with my friends. Like flooding the Dial-MTV phone lines with requests for Def Leppard and Milli Vanilli videos. Now how cool was that? Uh, anyway…
Onto college where chances are, people outside your circle of friends don’t know your personality enough to judge whether you’re cool or not, so they judge solely on looks and who you hang out with. Coolness at the university had diverse meanings. For me, those guys who mixed “Doom” with alcohol were pretty cool. If I did that, I wouldn’t even be able to finish one level without puking. One of my friends, on the other hand, thought everything gaming related was for “goobs” as he put it. He even coined the term “No-friendo” for the people who liked to sit around all day playing on their Sega on Super Nintendo systems. A typical phrase would be, “Oh great, you’re not going out drinking because you’re going to be playing No-Friendo all night!” I didn’t see much of a problem in all this since I always found time to go out as well as time for marathon sessions of “Master of Magic” and “Civilization”. Going to bed at 5am in the morning wasn’t so bad, especially when your body’s still young. I even got some of my non-computer friends addicted to MoM, so in the end, all this talk about games being for goobs was no big worry.
These days, at least at work, I’m not ashamed to admit my passion for PC games. If anything, it’s infinitely more interesting to talk about games with coworkers than things like the weather, Y2K, or how it’s almost Friday. In the workplace, I tend to gravitate more towards gamers, because I know they have that penchant for fun. They’re not the kind of people with the mindset that games are for kids, and they usually have interesting quirks to them. Outside the workplace though, I do keep in the back of my mind about the stigma attached to games. If I’m in a bar and I see some chick who is money as a bunny, I’m not going to go up and say, “Hey baby, you know I gots 128 MB of RAM on my computer!” Not the best way to start a conversation. So until the day when that stigma is lifted, I’ll keep that to myself.
In other news… Last time I mentioned how Diamond had been neglecting their MX300 users and Aureal had to pick up the slack. Well, I’ve noticed lately ‘Gregg @ Diamond’ has been showing up at the soundcard newsgroups and been very helpful. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. I finished “Baldur’s Gate” in the conventional way, and I’m now trying to go back through playing with only one character and not dying (ironman style). Haven’t picked up a new game in a while, but a slew of them are coming in March like “Army Men 2”, “Heroes of Might and Magic 3”, and the highly anticipated “Everquest” among them. There’s even a possibility of “Jagged Alliance 2” making it out in March. I’ll believe it when I see it, but that’s #3 right now on my list behind “Everquest” and “TA: Kingdoms”. I just love them squad based games.
So much has happened since my last editorial. Multiple TNT cards on one computer, Oscar nominations (where’s The Truman Show and Pleasantville?), AMD beats Intel in sales. Nothing’s making sense anymore! Mike Tyson went and threw a TV at someone? Mike, many people are also pissed that George Clooney left E.R., but you don’t see them throwing their TVs. Don’t worry, we can look forward to seeing George in many more mediocre movies bobbing his head back and forth when he talks. Until later…
Let us know your opinions in the Game Post Forum or by emailing me El Pollo.