Friday, February 12, 2016

How to Respond When You're a Gamer

No. I'm not going to talk about the Deadpool movie today. Maybe next week.

Perusing my morning papers (physical and digital, because I'm not completely ready to give up a real newspaper quite yet), the NY Times Fashion & Style section with their 'Social Q's' column had a reader asking how to handle conversations regarding her husband's job. You see, he's a game designer. That's still a dirty word in a number of circles, even as the climate changes and gamers are starting to grow up and become your clients, your employees, and your bosses. But still, people think gaming is for kids and ponder horrible things of it. Video games are the 21st equivalent of comic books. They're fun to play and fun to hate on.

The reader was distressed. She supports her husband's passion, but dislikes the conversations that arise when people ask about his job. It leads into the inevitable responses of "Oh! How horrible! What a waste a time. He's making bad things for kids!"

The NY Times response is cheeky. Either you politely say the business is complicated, and I'm doing my job to cater to people's desires. Or you throw it back at them - you respect their position about violent video games, so what are you doing about it other then running your mouth?


Over time this will be a non-issue as more kids turn into 30-somethings and take over the work-force. But until then, we all get to bear witness to the arrogance and ignorance of the masses as they try to talk down to us about why playing video games is bad. I'm sure you all have been there. If not by our parents, then by our friends (though this is less the case then it use to be, yea!) or by teachers, relatives, church officials, co-workers, you name it. After a while you learn to say "I'm going to a digital media expo" instead of a gaming convention. People will still give you a look, but they're less like to admonish you.

As gamers, I think what's important is presenting ourselves in a positive manner throughout any interactions. If someone starts reaming into you about how games are bad, don't fight back with vulgarity. Take the higher ground and be polite (nothing pisses off people more when you are the calm one in a situation, and it's always amusing). Explain in a clean, concise manner why you like video games. Don't be afraid to throw down some facts. 4 out of 5 U.S. households have a gaming console in their living room - that's for families, couples, and singles. The average age of a gamer in 2014 was 35. And of all of the entertainment mediums out there, video games have consistently ranked as having the best, easy to understand, most monitored system of all - always at the top in the ESRB rating system, stores ensuring only adults buy M games, and the like.

People are responsible about games and their consumption. The problem is most are not aware of it, and rumors against gaming have been a staple since the 1980's. Television and news have not been helpful on this at all since games are considered their rival. They want our attention and will turn against video games to make it happen.

To the reader of the NY Times who submitted the question, here is my response for you that will both empower your family and leave your new acquaintance with something to think about:

If the first answer you hear is something negative about video games, you don't have to stand there and listen to it looking for a way out. The moment you can get a word in, do so. Say that you support your husband and his job of choice. This was his passion and he loves it. You are both happy and love that he is able to use his skills to provide entertainment and joy to the world. That you know video games have been a staple for decades, have produced some of the brightest, most creative people of our time, are still gaining popularity, and will soon take over football as a national sport to watch. That the facts show that what has been touted about gaming in the news is anything but the truth. Games are not all about violence, hatred, or evil. Over 75% of the games produced today have no violence in them at all. So if you (as in the person picking at your husband's job) are going to stand there and admonish my husband's passion, then it would be best if we part ways here.

Give them something to think about, and be secure in your response. People who are more focused on your husband making video games and hating that part of him are not worth your time.


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