Let’s admit it…it isn’t easy admitting that you are a gamer in real-life social interactions beyond our Twitter and Facebook community friends. Over the years, I have found that many different people I interact with in real life have an issue with me being a gamer. Why is this, exactly?
I hold down steady work and pay my bills. I won’t lie though, there are always bad apples in every community that give the others a bad name, but whose fault is that, really? I have even run into situations where a person is wronged by a member of a specific community (race, color, religion, etc.) and develop an ongoing negative stereotype revolving around that community as a whole instead of holding the single person who wronged them accountable. So, again, what is it about gamers that make some people absolutely crazy?!
Is this what they see when they hear the term “gamer”?
Negative stereotypes are extremely damaging and lead to the development of assumptions on how different people within a community will act in various social and personal situations. Perhaps these people who harbor these negative stereotypes view ALL gamers as out-of-shape, dirty and smelly individuals who covet junk food, have problems with personal finance, and are socially awkward. Now, I would be lying if I said that I NEVER met a gamer who displayed these very traits, but I would say that if a part of them craves self-improvement and a change in their current situation, DO IT!
Case in point: I have a family member who is a gamer/collector that has an extremely bad temper when he loses. How bad do you ask? He has snapped two Nintendo DS’s in HALF, punched two defenseless PS2’s to DEATH, smashed an unknown number of computer mice and thrown at least two monitors to the ground in a fit of rage! Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy talking video games with my family member, but when he is grinding his ass off and he begins losing, he’s not even fun to talk to any more and will snap on me as a result.
I, myself, am guilty of rage-quitting a game when I’m getting my ass handed to me (what gamer isn’t guilty of at least that?), but it has never gone beyond simply turning off the console. During those heated moments, I never forget that I would like to be able to try again later and take good care of my stuff. So when exactly is it not fun anymore?
Just the same with alcohol, drugs, gambling and other addictions/vices, the source of a person’s mania reaches an unhealthy level when it begins to take precedent over basic biological needs, interferes with personal growth and most importantly…when it reaches such a level that it is no longer fun anymore and the person finds themselves seeking change on some level. When I would talk with my family member about his life, he would mention that he would enjoy having a girlfriend, but all I could think about was why he didn’t have one in the first place.
At the time, he lived in a delapidated trailer with a severe black ant problem, but I don’t think that this is the sole reason why. Perhaps his bad temper? His social awkwardness, which was crippling at times, especially when interacting with the opposite sex? In the interest of helping him out, I agreed to ask about him to prospective love interests he would talk to. What I found out was alarming.
I asked a total of three different ladies what their personal assessment of him was after the initial interaction and almost all of them were able to pick up on the fact that he had a short temper and that he gave them “the creeps”. Is it possible that on some intuitive level, we as humans are able to sense potential danger?
I know I can!
Do I feel that games have contributed to some of his maladies? Absolutely. For many gamers, getting the chance to play is a form of escape from the hectic “real world” and allows them to express themselves in a medium that they are comfortable with.
However, when the escape becomes a compulsion that takes over every other aspect of life, such as paying bills, maintaining personal hygiene and even EATING, it becomes a problem. Some people enjoy social drinking, but it becomes a problem when a person becomes markedly ill when they do not “get their fix” and become a full-blown alcoholic that alienates their family and ruins themselves financially in order to feed their addiction.
I feel that this has happened to my family member, who plays games to escape (which is good to a certain extent), but he stops enjoying them as he loses (which is bad) and damages his personal property, costing him hundreds of dollars a year (which is also bad). Further, he acknowledges he has a problem with his temper and wants to fix it, but it’s easier to play his games and pretend it isn’t happening instead of addressing it.
The compulsion even gets in the way of other dimensions of his life, which consequently leads to his lack of a girlfriend. This is classic escapist behavior at its finest, sadly, and unless a commitment is made to better himself, his situation will remain the same indefinitely.
So as a public service, I would encourage you, my fellow gamers, to remember exactly what forces are in play that allow you to wake up out of bed every day and pursue your passion. It’s a very simple formula: if you know that you have a problem, seek help and work on the problem instead of avoiding it. Video games were created for people to have FUN, and if the compulsion to play becomes so extreme that it takes over everything else, it’s a problem.
When extreme anger results in the destruction of private property, playing video games is no longer fun. When playing video games begins to interfere with steps that are necessary in order to address another dimension of one’s life, it’s a problem. I live a very happy, fulfilling life and pursue my love of video games DAILY, but never to a level when I would not know how to interact with another human being or be able to sustain my way of life. Other aspects, such as personal hygiene and good health, almost become side effects to living a proactive lifestyle.
In regards to the rest of the world, I don’t feel that it is fair that we as gamers are judged negatively, but instead of approaching the confrontation angrily, I would suggest asking them questions about why they feel the way that they feel. Instead of negatively reacting to their answers, accept it and ask more questions in a non-confrontational manner.
Who knows? They may realize how skewed their stereotypes really are and abandon them. Why give them fuel to support their negative world views? I have successfully changed the minds of multiple people who discover that I am a gamer and begin to give me a hard time about it, so if a damn CLOWN can do it, why not you?
We shouldn’t be ashamed of the very thing that brings us so much joy, and in the end, it doesn’t matter if every one you talk to understands or not, just be true and good to yourself and everything will be fine! Game on, my fellow gamers! You have my support! Lumpz the Clown OUT!!!
Lumpz the Clown is an avid gamer who does Let’s Plays, reviews and other assorted clowny goodness He aspires one day to make video games his full-time career and enjoys interacting with like-minded individuals with the same passion for gaming.