Adventures of a Non-Gamer – Misconceptions
by Shawnie Kelly (@DearShawnie)
I would like to begin this post by addressing the elephant in the room — that is, my status as a “non-gamer.” It seems that the most common response every week is something along the lines of “How long will your non-gamer be considered a non-gamer?” Or “Wow, your non-gamer plays a lot of video games for someone who doesn’t play video games.” I 100% understand these responses; I do play a lot of video games for someone who still considers herself a non-gamer. I did actually talk about why I’m not a gamer in an earlier article, but it has been a minute since those early days of frustration and controller-anxiety. (I’m working on getting psychologists to make this a real thing, you guys. Stand by.) So, let me come at this from a different angle.
I’ve learned quite a bit about this culture that I have basically forced my way into. Not to say that it hasn’t been a welcoming community, quite the opposite. I find that people want their non-gamer friends to understand their favorite pastime and even join in. But the biggest thing that I have learned is that being a gamer does not mean meeting a list of rules — how often you play, what types of games you play, etc… — it is a state of mind. The person who plays a game every other week in order to write an article about it (a la, yours truly) is not the same as someone who finds excitement in their gaming exploits, waiting in anticipation for their next chance to play. They invest time and effort into a game. They want to beat it. They want to figure out all the secrets of the game and play it again with the knowledge they learned the first time around. They may not even play once every other week because of a busy schedule, but when they do it’s like coming home to a familiar friend as though they never left! Sure, you can learn to love it. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who wants to understand something and devotes some time to it will end up loving it. This is a roundabout way of saying that I will never be that person who spends actual money on the pastime of gaming. Do you know how many shoes I could buy with the Benjamins some gamers are dropping on games, equipment, subscriptions to Xbox live, consoles, and other accessories? A LOT!! A lot of shoes, people.
Meanwhile, I have been enjoying the time I’m spending on this little project that has spanned several months now. I really have learned a lot about gaming, but mostly I have been able to see things from a different perspective. I enjoy playing devil’s advocate and arguing both sides of an issue. Mostly it’s just fun to confuse people about where you stand on things, but it’s also a good tool to use when you just want to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. I’m sure most of you know this by now, but gamers get a bad rap. Not everyone and not all the time. But many people see gamers a certain way. The stereotype is set in stone; here are some familiar adjectives associated with this misconception: male, dorky, single, antisocial, unfit, mom’s basement. Okay, that last one was a noun. But this is way harsh! And untrue. Sure, there are always people that will fit that description. Just like there are some blonds that are dumb, and some women that can’t drive, and some men that don’t listen, and some politicians that lie. SOME. Not all. I have noticed that people think gamers are this strange group of adults that have not grown up yet. But that is mostly just not true. Gamers are all kinds of people from every walk of life.
Maybe this is my mission! Maybe I have been sent to be bridge the gap between what people think about gamers and the actual reality of gamers. It’s trendy and cool now for people to call themselves “nerds” but when it comes down to it — some people are not as open-minded about gaming as they pretend, even if they are nerdy themselves in other ways. Nobody questions when a grown man paints his bare chest for a 25 degree weather football game, and wears a block of cheese on his head. But heaven forbid someone play video games after a long day at work or school. And I’m all for painting your chest and wearing the cheese! Please, do what makes you happy. That’s not the point. The point is that it’s the same level of excitement and could easily be labeled immature by society. But it’s not — that criticism seems to only be leveled at those who call themselves gamers.
My point is that I may not ever be a gamer, and I’m okay with that. But I understand it. And I will keep playing video games, even if it’s just once every other week. And most of all, I will always correct the misconceptions. This I will promise you.
Happy gaming, you gamers!