by Michael Wright
Although gaming might seem like a trivial thing to those outside “gamer” culture, to those inside of it, it can be a major part of their life. I grew up with video games, first watching my older brother play Altered Beast and then raiding Shinra HQ with Cloud, Tifa, and Barret. Behind work, friends and family, political and religious beliefs, gaming would have to be one of the top ways I would define myself as a person. Gaming isn’t more important than my career or family, but it is a way I spend a major part of my time and money.
Given that gaming is a major part of my life, is it a good thing for me? I would say yes and no. First and foremost gaming has made me a more intelligent person. After playing Valkyrie Profile, I studied Bulfinch’s mythology and learned of Odin, Thor, and Freya. Without gaming, my interest in mythology may have been significantly reduced. I have my own political beliefs, but after playing Bioshock I took it upon myself to study Objectivism. Now, I know and understand arguments in favor and in opposition to Ayn Rand‘s philosophy. Without gaming, I probably wouldn’t have had the slightest interest. I consider myself a historian of sorts, but I can not go back in time. With Assassin’s Creed, I can meet Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Pope Alexander VI. Leonardo’s creation of the machine gun in Assassin’s creed is not historical, but I did learn more about Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and the man who inspired it, Cesare Borgia. In these ways, gaming has had a positive impact on my life. I believe it has this sort of positive impact in many other people.
Unfortunately, anything that is fun can become an addiction. My worst gaming addiction would have to have been playing Star Wars Galaxies. In SWG, I had a lot of fun, tried my hand at role-playing and leading player vs. player fights, and made a few friends I knew for years. This however, had a cost. I played several months from when I woke up at noon till there was nothing to do at 4 am. I should have been outside more, instead of playing games, stereotypically eating Doritos, Hot Pockets, and drinking Mountain Dew. Thankfully, I did not have a job to lose or any classes put in jeopardy. Later in life gaming and other ways of procrastination impacted my life, but eventually I completed major goals in-between rounds of Halo.
Gaming can’t be brushed off as “just gaming” anymore. It should be considered its own subculture, and that subculture is growing by leaps and bounds. A recent report on gaming tells us that more than 1.2 billion people are gamers. There are varying degrees of gamer, from your casual gamer, to your hardcore gamer, to your niche gamer, but if the $500 million dollars spent on developing and marketing Destiny, the hundreds of millions of Mario games sold, and latest controversy over journalistic ethics and the role of women and minorities in the gaming industry are any indication, gaming is quickly becoming an unignorable part of society. Hopefully, this part of society won’t be stereotyped as only male, only white, or only nerds. There are people on the other side of the screen, people who we may disagree with, but people who deserve a fair shake.