After reading Ben Kuchera’s post “Gaming is not the most important thing in my life” on Polygon, I felt a little annoyed, to say the least. Anyone who knows me knows that gaming is a massive part of my life, and a massive part of who I am. I’ve been told by a few well-meaning people that I shouldn’t allow it to define me as a person, and I don’t think I do, but something about this editorial bothered me for some reason.
I don’t think anyone will disagree that having gaming be the only thing you do with your life is pretty unhealthy, or that letting relationships or careers suffer due to your hobby is a terrible thing. But with that said, I was bothered by the attitude that it’s a negative thing to consider gaming a huge part of your life. Maybe I’m wrong, but I felt that the tone of the article suggested that people who only spend small amounts of their time gaming are not only “better gamers” (because it allows them to experience games differently) but also better, more rounded people. And I think that’s painting it a bit black and white.
Gaming has opened doors to me that would have been closed to me otherwise. I am a successful 25-year-old working in a gaming company where I have met people I love and cherish, where I have grown my confidence and nurtured a passion that I’ve always known I had. I met my fiancé through gaming, and we have been happily together for almost 10 years. As a coworker quipped recently, “The couple who plays together, stays together.” That’s of course simplifying things a lot, but I chuckled and realised that when we hang out, we game. And that’s awesome.
Gaming is stress relief to me. It helps fuel my creativity. When I play a game I enjoy, I am inspired to create things, normally through writing. While gaming may not be the most important thing in my life, it’s one of my greatest passions. I work where I work because I play games, and because I want to make gaming better for other people who play and love them as I do. While I think I’d still be good at my job if I were less of a gamer, my passion drives me and makes me want to make things better. I want to push myself and push the industry to improve.
I get what Kuchera is trying to say, really I do. I don’t think it’s healthy that people feel they’re being personally attacked when someone dislikes their chosen platform or game, and I have received very violent and horrible threats from people when I expressed distaste at a certain MMO many years ago. I know they took it too far. And gaming is not the most important thing in my life. I don’t suppose it’s the most important thing in most people’s lives. But these well-meaning people who tell me how to define myself, and those that say it’s bad to consider gaming a huge part of your life: thank you for your opinion, but I’m afraid that’s all it is. An opinion, right or wrong, doesn’t make me want to change the way I live my life or celebrate this one very big hobby of mine.
I define myself as a creative person, a writer with an incredibly active and vivid imagination, someone who wants to share everything she can with the world. I define myself as someone who wants to make things better. And I define myself as a gamer, someone who loves to lose herself in distant lands and exciting storylines, and draws her inspiration from fighting dragons and overthrowing kingdoms, flying spaceships (or, more likely, crashing spaceships). And y’know what? I’m okay with that. I know that I cannot speak for all gamers, but that’s my point. I can only talk about how I identify, so no one else can determine what is and isn’t “right” for others.
How is defining yourself as a gamer any different than defining yourself as a writer? An artist? A musician? A film aficionado? A bookworm? I think there’s a difference between saying you are one of these things, and saying that one of these things is all you are. And I think this article and its commenters miss that point by a wide shot. It also seems that these people who tell others how they should define themselves often are the first to tell everyone about how full and rich their life is, with all the travelling and skydiving and bungee-jumping they do, while still fitting in family time and a little bit of their hobby on the side. I wonder why it is that they feel the need to share this to anyone who will listen, but crap all over the people who enjoy one thing in particular.
Header courtesy of Belghast of Aggronaut.com.
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