Is Gaming ‘Cool’? – Jack and I discuss.

Jack – Part-time gamer

nerd2

Amidst current pop culture, video games are more relevant than ever and the market is booming to the point where it is considered a major event when a AAA game is released. Whilst video games market is now something enjoyed by millions and almost everyone has some distinct memory of playing a game, is it truly 100% accepted as a valid hobby or pastime? I believe not. When sat in a job interview for my current employer I was asked a very simple question; what are your interests? I am sure you will agree that by no means is this a trick question yet I chose to conceal the truth from the interviewer.

My main interest and love is video games. From a very young age I have forever been obsessed with them and there is little doubt that I will continue to be interested so why did I not tell her? I believe it is because there is a slight stigma still attached to the idea of an adult who plays video games. Over time I have bonded greatly with those that even show a slight interest in games yet on the flip side have been ridiculed for going to a midnight release or playing a much more obscure game than say COD or FIFA. It is usually quite jokey ridicule by those that I work with who will call me a nerd or something similar and I take no offence to it yet it still happens.

Whilst video games are enjoyed by millions of people, the average person who goes out every weekend, or who perhaps has children still think it’s odd for an adult to love video games. I long for a time where I can speak to a significant portion of people about a new release yet I don’t hold my breath. The stigma attached to gaming is that many believe the gamer to be a loner that stays indoors talking to imaginary people. First of all, I don’t wish to go outdoors regardless of whether I’m a gamer or not. I live in England where it pisses it down 24/7. Secondly, video gaming is far more immersive and engaging than just straight up watching a film so I don’t understand the average persons sympathy for a gamer. Most sit playing Bejewelled on their phone and don’t quite realise that they too are gaming.

In conclusion, gaming has moved along considerably since its inception and we are now in a culture where it is a pretty huge market and births 1000s of jobs yet I still feel as though I am looked down on for loving games. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give a shit what people think because it’s a great community to be a part of. There are tons of conventions now and mainstream events such as e sports but until I’m not viewed as lazy or undesirable because I play games, I believe it still to be a bit of a taboo subject.

 

Tom – Thehydeaway

fifa

To counter this point of view, as another avid gamer, I think the stigma surrounding gaming is quickly diminishing. With an ever increasing spectrum of games catering to a larger variety of ‘gamers’, it is almost impossible to identify a person (of our generation) who isn’t a ‘gamer’! Although some more niche games like Dark Souls are less widely received, I believe bringing such games up in conversation is as difficult as, say, a football fan trying to engage a non-fan in a transfer window discussion. Besides, isn’t football a game anyway?

More niche games, especially RPGs introduce a different style of gaming to the mainstream. People play games for many different reasons. If asked for motive, I’ll bet the most common answer will be “to have fun”. In the most accessible way games like Fifa and CoD introduce a style of game which not only uses popular themes, but provides an instant fix, requiring less of the gamer for them to get stuck in. With RPGs things are more personal and, in a way individualistic. The experience is often less social, the themes less mainstream, and it is harder to share or quantify your experience and time spent.

That being said, more and more people are buying these niche games, as developers make them more approachable and inkeeping with current trends, like: Superheroes (Batman Arkham Knight), and Game of Thrones (The Witcher 3). The gaming community is growing, but the lines are also blurring. In ASDA announcements blurt out bad video game descriptions, on the TV most advert breaks feature at least one upcoming or new game, and within the general public I no longer dial back the nerd. I don’t know for sure whether society is becoming more accepting, or whether I personally am more secure in myself, but gaming is in serious danger of being cool.

To put me in Jack’s interview situation I can see where he is coming from. The lack of recognised personal development from playing video games, compared to fitness activities or reading (just to give two examples) is an issue. But this doesn’t make it ‘uncool’, just irrelevant to the job role. I myself would never have mentioned my gaming without strongly advertising my blogging and writing abilities.

Moving away from job interviews and back into the general public perspective I now pose the question: were games ever uncool? Whenever I talk to anyone about gaming, the topic of conversation usually switches to what they used to play. Was gaming uncool when we were kids? And is it only now, at the age of 22, when the majority population no longer have the time and interest, that it is considered uncool?

This brings us full circle. Game developers in their hundreds have created a market which can be accessed by everyone, and even the most unlikely people will inadvertently become gamers. So anyone who considers gaming to be uncool need take a long hard look in a mirror, or their iphone… There is a nerd spectrum however and there is often a limit to how much you can talk about gaming before your conversation partner switches off. Gaming may not be a real world event, but games are fast becoming as popular as movies.

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