So, I ventured over to the Pink Pigtail Inn for a pint or two and some basted boar ribs. While the atmosphere was – as always – comfy as a feather bed and the top-notch nosh abundant, the topic of conversation was absolutely infuriating. I seriously had to have a little angry stomp-fest around the room, gesticulating wildly and ranting about the idiocy of Some People.
It seems that it has become fashionable amongst the talking heads it seems to point fingers and claim that all of us gamers are degenerate slobs are ruining the fabric of society by letting our bodies and our social skills atrophy while we plaster our sun-starved noses against the screens, wallowing in pixellated, simulated, isolated, artifically created joy.
Fuck. That. Noise.
I’m sorry for the descent into crudity but I really need to emphasize my point here. I am literally hopping mad about this sort of complete and utter bullshit being spewed by the narrow minded Old Guard. Really folks, the world is online now. Get out of your goddamn horse and buggy and open your blinkered eyes. This is the way business is done. This is the way education is done. This is the way relaxtion and recreation is done. Hell, this is the way fornication is done. Deal with it. You can’t stop the so-called Digital Revolution. Except in the most rare of circumstances, technology does not go backwards. You cannot un-ring a bell.
This is what’s known as social evolution, folks, and it’s as silly to try and reverse its course as it would be to turn back the clock on its biological counterpart. Human beings will congregate for social conviviality and the while the location and the ensemble may change from the patricians of Rome in the agora to the mass of the working classes in the pubs at 5:00 to the brightly coloured digital representations that spin in hard drives and flash along fibre optics cables, neither the impetus nor the end result changes.
We game with other people because those other people are there and we want to know them. Holy lord can I hear the masses wailing and tearing their hair over this one. “How can you know someone who can hide behind an artificial face in an artificial world?” How do you know anyone for crying out loud!? Most people between the ages of around 6 and 26 make an absolute career out of hiding everything they can from their parents. I don’t knowa single couple out there who doesn’t hide things from each other. “Oh yes,” chimes the mob, “but those are small things. There are people out there who know the real you.” No there bloody well aren’t and I like it that way! Hell even I don’t know the real me, even after 20-odd years of acquaintance.
We game with other people because we enjoy their company and we want to do things together. Those things may seem arbitrary and artificial, but for the love of God how important is anyone’s hobby? Really? The point is that it’s a hobby, it’s enjoyable, it’s something you do for fun because it’s there to do, not because it will (necessarily) contribute to the Grand Sum of Human Achievement.
Dr. Phil and His Anti-Gaming Squad are as laughable those misguided fools who claimed The Beatles and their devil’s music were ruining the children of yesteryear. The Beatles! Are you kidding me!? Get your asses down to your local community college and take some developmental psychology courses! Our minds are not empty pails waiting to be filled with whatever nonsense the world throws at us! We are thinking, reasoning, adapting creatures and for the most part we are able to make up our own minds about what is fact or fiction and what is fantasy or reality. Though I take leave to doubt that Dr. Phil and his bobble-headed minions actually posess those faculties.
This reduction to the point of absurdity media fear-mongering absolutely staggers me. “Mid-20’s Woman Plays Video Game, Gardens A Bit – Film at 11:00” would not sell a single second of advertising space. But when some not-so-tightly-wrapped kid sadly decides that taking his own life is an appropriate answer to the ups and downs of living, video games included, well now. That is news and boy oh boy would it be great to get all sorts of parents concerned about how much time their kids are spending in fantasy land. Poor parents. They try so hard and care so much and there are so many very real dangers out there, but they can’t always tell the difference because their trusted Magic Glowing Box doesn’t always have their best interests in mind.
Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I can freely admit that this issue is not new. It might not even raise any eyebrows amongst the gaming community anymore. Better authors than I have expounded at length on the subject. But the perception in the public eye is a different story. I’m leery of mentioning my gaming habits in the workplace precisely because I don’t want to deal with the stigma. I don’t want to have to defend myself and I really really don’t want to hear someone say “why don’t you get out of the house and do something worthwhile for a change.” I have gained so much from my time online, and I know so many others have.
I want to tell people about the skills I’ve gained from dealing with loot drama and guild drama. How I have learned how to compromise, how to be patient, how to be a good listener, be understanding and tolerant. How I have learned to do great things with little resources.
I want to tell people that I can herd cats. People are not compelled to stay in my guild by anything other than their own desires. There’s no paycheque at the end, no punishment if you leave, no social backlash. There is not one single reason for anyone to do a goddamn thing that me or any of my officers say unless they want to. And we make them want to. When you can reinvent yourself for as little as US$35, which is all it takes for a server transfer and a name change, or when you can travel anywhere up or down the Allmighty Wowjutsu Totem Pole of Progression at a whim, then what does it say about the leadership of this guild that very few people ever leave. And those that do, often come back. Now you tell me that those skills that I and all of the officers and leaders and players in my guild display are worthless.
The fact that these skills aren’t an acceptable part of my resume is just insanity. I can put down that I was captain of a beer-league softball team or that I was a leader for a troupe of Girl Guides and everyone will nod and smile and realize that I have all sorts of yummy leadership and conflict resolution skills. But god forbid I mention that I know my way around Azeroth. Then all of a sudden I’m a pariah, a person of questionable morals and mental stability. It’s not fair, its small-minded and its a true failure to realize that skills can be aquired in more ways than just asses in seats in lecture halls and cubicles.
The Global Village is here to stay, and we have so much to learn from it.
Wall of Text crits you for 1337 damage. You die. You are transported to a dark place. You walk north. You are eaten by a grue.