Continued from My life Without WoW: Introduction
First of all, let me apologize in advance to most gamers out there for potentially giving your significant others (or loving mothers if you still live in the basement) some ammo against you. I just have to share this tidbit. After all, blogging is all about droning on ad nauseum about something you feel is earth shattering, but in reality is either completely obvious, or just plain irrelevant to everyone else in the world. Ain’t those intertubes grand? Well now that I’m through with WoW and have a fuckload of time on my hands, I can finally get all introspective in my own attention-whoring corner of the web…
“Its just a game”. Four little mono-syllabic words that when strung together in this order make me want to punch whoever said it right in the milk and cookies (unless it’s a lady, of course… I reserve swift box-kicks for them). I’m pretty confident that as a gamer, you know exactly where I’m coming from, and you’ve probably felt the same kind of ire towards a loved one at some point for having the gall to say something as ignorant as “It’s just a game…”
In order to work out exactly why this phrase causes my anger to burn with the fire of a thousand suns, I had to think back to my childhood, and where it all began.
I started playing games from the age of 7. I owned a Commodore VIC-20 and 64, a ColecoVision, and eventually a NES. Back in those days, I’d be enjoying a game or two, and when my mother would respond to my “one more level” requests with “Turn it off, it’s just a game…” I’d shrug my shoulders and comply. It’s true, they were just games after all. Then one day when I was 13, I went to see The Wizard in the theatre and suffered through 100 incredibly painful minutes of Fred Savage, just so I could get an exclusive first look at some small gameplay snippets of SMB3. I left the theatre that day with the following insight:
- The powerglove is awesome (Proven wrong shortly thereafter)
- SMB3 is going to be the single greatest game in the history of the world
- Fred Savage needs to die in a car fire
So I spent the next few months saving up my allowance, and on the day that SMB3 was released, I rushed to the store, picked up my copy, and RAN home like my ass was on fire. Finally I was about to see what all the hype was about. I spent a couple of blissful hours playing when my mother walked in the room. The conversation as I recall went a little something like this:
Mom: “Honey, Dinner time.”
Me: “Not hungry, mom”
Mom: “Oh no you don’t… I made the food, you’ll eat it, now come along”
Me: “Can’t I just eat in front of the TV?”
Mom: “No, you can’t. Now turn it off. It’s just a game”
… It was around this time that I lost it.
Me: “Just a game… JUST A GAME?! Jumping Jesus fucking Christ on a pogo stick this is NOT just a game, This is Super Fucking Mario Bros 3! Look! Look at the screen! I’m a fucking RACCOON!”
To me it was more than just a game. It was something that I had spent weeks obsessing over. All I could do was count the days until its arrival and I could play it for hours on end. To have my moment of gamer nirvana interrupted by a request to spend “quality time” with family was a fucking sacrilege. To clarify, “quality time” with family usually amounted to sitting around, shovelling food in my mouth while listening to my parents gab about people I frankly didn’t give a shit about. “Oh, uncle Harry’s business is doing well? Whoopdee-doo!”
From that point forward, in my head the phrase “It’s just a game” was synonymous with “You should be doing something more productive”. As a child who’s dream job was working for a game developer, getting immersed in games WAS more productive. Oh sure… I know I overreacted, but think about it. I was 13. My life consisted of avoiding schoolwork, playing video games, and obsessing about tits and everything tit-related. It’s different now…
… or is it? With the introduction of online playable games (especially MMOs), the dynamic has changed radically. Massively multiplayer games added a dimension of social interaction that was previously impossible online outside of AOL chatrooms where every woman was actually a 300lb man who bought hand lotion and kleenex at Costco (Oh how I miss you nekkidpartygirl18). In this day and age, you actually play a game with (and against) real people scattered all around the globe. At any time of the day you can log in and witness people professing their love for everyone else’s mother, and Chuck Norris. It’s not just a matter of defeating the content of the game, but now you can’t be a fucking prick about it or else feel the wrath of your peers. This whole “People Needing People” concept is something I’ll be dealing with in my next editorial.
For now, however, I leave you MMO-widows with a challenge. Walk up to your loved one right at the apex of a large-scale raid, and just say “Turn it off. It’s just a game” … I suggest wearing body armor.