Why Non-Gamers Can’t Understand Gamers

I was reading a comment section under an article about the ESA study on demographics of gamers and something caught my attention. One person simply stated the obvious saying even though only 19% of gamers are boys under 17, society as a whole still tends to believe video games are silly toys that aren’t for adults. I really resonated with the comment that person left and now I’m pretty bothered that video games haven’t been culturally accepted yet. Maybe it’s because my girlfriend and her whole family is just like that. She always acts like my games are just silly things that I, for some absurd reason enjoy. When I told her that I consider video games to be one of my passions she said that they don’t count as a passion, just a hobby.

Why do people still think like that? If 58% of Americans play video games then you would think that they would adjust to the times and let video games have the respect they deserve. The reason that my girlfriend feels the way she does is because in reality for probably 99% of gamers we don’t get paid for playing games. Technically in the real world the games we play don’t have any tangible gains. But what is never taken into account or given enough credit are the feelings that our games give us. There is a certain satisfaction with conquering that tough level, or finally getting that awesome weapon you’ve been after. This satisfactory feeling is my theory to why people can have views similar to my girlfriend’s about video games.

The satisfaction and relief gained from finally beating the water temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is incredible. It is literally one of the most confusing, long, and arduous temples in all of Zelda history.  However, this feeling cannot by reciprocated with non-gamers. The amount of time you put in to achieving a goal in a game and the times you failed along the way add up to make the end result something special. You can’t do the same kind of thing in the real world. An argument could be working hard for something and finally achieving a promotion or raise etc. but if you fail along the way you risk getting fired or not even being able to try again. In the real world mistakes aren’t always tolerated and you can’t undo things you have messed up. In a game, dying and failing result in you just getting disappointed or mad and starting over again. When you start that part over you analyze what you did wrong, correct those mistakes, think of creative new ways to accomplish your task, and execute them to progress. This can be a one-time thing or a ten-time thing but no matter what, in the end you get through it.

The only message I want to leave you with is that people who don’t play video games need to get the idea that they are not “for nerdy kids who never leave their room and become unhealthy”, rather they are for people who enjoy escaping the real world to experience things they could not otherwise experience. But if you can find a place for me to go and gain powers, explore new worlds, be a main character, and do whatever I want, I may agree that video games are a waste of time.

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3 thoughts on “Why Non-Gamers Can’t Understand Gamers

  1. A Voice says:

    While it seems to me that a number of people would reply with a comment urging you to read their work all but purely for self-promotion, I think that you will genuinely find my entry ‘So, Everyone’s a Gamer Now’ (http://thebittervoice.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/so-everyones-a-gamer-now/) to resonate with you. It may even help to put a finer point on your own thoughts.

    In respect to your girlfriend and her family, it can be argued that hobbies and occupations (yes, occu-fucking-pations!) like reading and writing fiction is just as childish and for similar reasons. My late-grandfather built RC planes (think 1/4- and 1/3-scale) from blueprints, even going so far as to correct several of them, and from the time he was a child. He loved building and flying them, but most people thought it was childish. They were wrong, but he didn’t care.

    I’m fortunate in that not only does my girlfriend of four years enjoy video games and have similar tastes, we play together and we met each other through playing video games. After some time spent getting to know each other she found out we lived two hours apart, asked me out on a date and that date never ended…she didn’t go back home and we’ve been together ever since.

    It’s one thing to sort of ‘get’ your partner’s hobby but have no real interest, but it’s a whole other thing to have no real respect for it.

    • Yeah it sucks but it’s not like people have static views for their whole lives. Gotta admit though I thought you were a bot at first with that opening sentence I’m glad you didn’t turn out to be haha. That is really cool that you found someone who shares a passion though I can’t even imagine. Video games are actually very different than people believe though and I’m sure you can agree with me when I say they enhance your imagination, teach you problem solving skills, provide a ton of entertainment, and of course connect people.

      • A Voice says:

        “Video games are actually very different than people believe though and I’m sure you can agree with me when I say they enhance your imagination, teach you problem solving skills, provide a ton of entertainment, and of course connect people.”

        This is very accurate.

        When I first played Amnesia: the Dark Descent I feel in love with the storytelling and the play on critical and reactionary levels. To the former level, I was able to look back and really think about how important darkness was to survival even though it was remarkably dangerous and, to the latter level, I was VERY grateful that enemies were not as plentiful as in something like Silent Hill or Fatal Frame.

        Even games that may be overlooked in respect to story can be quite surprising. The way the story is told in Armored Core, both in the manual and through the various missions, is something I thought was neat when I was in high school (release) and something I find to be really captivating now. The player actually plays through a story that isn’t trivial or mere window dressing and it deals with all sorts of dystopian themes. Yet it’s a third-person shooter where the player controls huge mechs: it’s arguably not supposed to be deep in story, but it is.

        As an artist I envy individual developers that have the robust skill set to make video games, to make art that meaningfully impacts all of the senses. (My hat goes off to the people at Frictional!) As a poet there are certain boundaries that I can push but, much like, say, a painter, boundaries I cannot overcome.

        At the end of the day I accept these boundaries because video games, being the Red Mage of the Art world, can do remarkable things and that is their greatest ability. Video games can synthesise various art regards in really exciting, compelling ways and they make this their own, however at the end of the day other art regards have their own thing that they do better than any other.

        Still…to deny the intellectual and emotive power of video games…that’s just stupid. XD

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