Playable Taliban fighters, an upcoming Supreme Court case, and the endless debates on whether games are art. With all these discussions and controversies we may sometimes forget what it is about gaming that draws us to it, and more importantly, what it is that keeps us here.
I’m not proposing that these arguments are unworthy of discussion by any means. It’s just that when you constantly look at all these macro trends and discussions, it’s easy to lose sight of what gaming means specifically to each and every person that picks up a controller, mouse, wand – whatever.
Everyone has their own unique view of gaming. Some prefer Halo, some opt for Call of Duty. You can’t get a sports game away from some people. Others prefer to take it slow with an RPG. Some play alone, some play with others.
My entire life has been centered around gaming, and I can’t exactly tell you how it happened. I know my first gaming memory consists of breaking my dad’s Intellivision by hitting the power and reset switches at the same time. Thankfully I’ve had better luck with consoles since then.
I grew up with the NES, Genesis, and SNES. I remember raging at the boat level in Castlevania III. My uncle got me Strider one Christmas and I remember thinking how awful the game looked. Just a few moments of gameplay proved how wrong I was. I can still feel the amazement when I remember seeing Terra, Vicks, and Wedge running up to Narshe for the first time.
Playing Bloody Roar 3 for months on end with an inseparable group of friends in high school taught me not only the mechanics of the game, but also how to deal with different psychologies and strategies both in and out of game. We could take a player’s strategy and moveset and expand that to how they would react in real-world situations. We used games as a sort of continuous thought experiment as a way of understanding the world around us.
I still hold many of the values I learned then true to my heart today.
There was a girl in high school I had the briefest of crushes over. It was probably a two week thing. If you ask her about it, she’ll claim she doesn’t even remember me. I reconnected with her on Facebook after I found out she started managing a used game store.
She said she knew nothing about games and wanted to learn. I offered my help. Six weeks later we were married.
Gaming has shaped my life in so many countless ways I feel obligated to write about it as a way of letting my experiences affect others in meaningful ways. I’ve mentioned before I’m pursuing a Master’s in journalism to write about gaming. As many people (correctly) pointed out, I’m probably a fool for wasting so much time and energy on a field that is still dominated by scantily-clad women reading off top ten lists.
It’s easy to find flaws in others, and it’s easy to turn those flaws into arguments that do nothing but divide. We may agree or disagree that playing the Taliban is tasteless, but we forget we all have something in common even through all the arguments.
We have gaming. It brings us together from countless experiences and places and we sit and talk with strangers about how we feel about the thing we all love to do. Progression of the field is important, but we should never forget what it is that gaming means to us.
What are some of your favorite gaming memories? How has gaming changed your life?
What does gaming mean to you?