Fanfare for the Common Geek
Brett Todd on The Firing Line:
The biggest reason why Joe Two-Point-Five Kids doesnít get gaming
I donít have a whole lot of friends that I see on a regular basis. Society seems to be sending me a message of late, with all of my old buddies getting married, having children, or getting so caught up in the suit-and-tie world that they no longer have the time to crack open a few cold ones with me on Monday mornings. But that seems to be the way that life goes when youíre cruising into your mid-30s. And the aches and pains havenít moved into my prostate yet, so I really canít complain.
Though I really would like it if I still had at least one good real-life friend who liked to play games. At one time, everybody I knew messed around with console and computer games. In university, I sat around for hours playing classic EA Sports titles like NHL 95 on the Sega Genesis, classic Dungeons & Dragons Gold Box titles like Pool of Radiance on the Commodore 64, and classic strategy titles like Empire Deluxe on the PC. My girlfriend back then played everything she could get her hands on and could run rings around me in Sonic the Hedgehog. My girlfriend now (soon to be wife, so Iíve really got no grounds for bitching that my pals have abandoned me) plays golf and canít get by the mechanical jumping fish in the first seconds of the first level of Sonic the Hedgehog.
But probably the biggest problem that I have with the whole ďno game friendsĒ thing is that I have to endure a lot of stupid comments. All of the non-gaming people in my lifeówhich means all of the people in my life, with the blessed exception of the golfing girlfriend, who may not understand why I spend time with things called Choo-Choo Rocket but at least leaves well enough aloneódonít get why Iím still involved with things they left behind in 1989. They know the money angle, seeing as this game reviewing gig affords me just enough cash to keep the electricity on and buy an odd round, but they never stop thinking that Iím a little long in the tooth to be dancing with the magic fairies in that online game thatís killing people.
The worst part of all this is that I canít really explain the attraction. Games arenít easily rationalized. Get into a long-winded explanation with my buddies about the great-looking jungle landscape in Vietcong, the kick-ass defensive-back logic on display in Madden NFL 2004, or the remarkably playable yet still historically intriguing tech tree in Rise of Nations, and I might as well be talking about registering for wedding shower gifts at Pottery Barn. Limit explanations to saying that games are ďfunĒ and you get a glazed look accompanied by some comment like ďHow about that local sports team?Ē Which is pretty understandable when you consider that most of my buddies left ďfunĒ behind for good when their second kids were born. Still, seeing as thatís the only actual reason I think of when justifying the need to numb my buttocks every time a cool new shooter comes out, I figure it should be good enough for the rest of the world.