Saturday, May 26, 2012

Real World Perceptions

     After I got off work this evening (very, VERY late), I stopped at the local 24-hour store to grab some sodas and a pair of energy drinks.  I was doing this because, despite having just gotten off of a 13 hour shift, I knew I'd be going back to work in two hours in order to work another 13-16 hours.


     Anyways, while I was in line at this store, the guy in front of me noticed that I had long hair (it's well past shoulder length) and was holding various caffeinated beverages.  This guy had the popped collar, manicured hairstyle that screams "I totally just woke up like this, I swear!" and the bronze (Oompa-Loompa Orange) tan.  This guy was clearly a level-capped Douche.
     "Look at this guy!" he said to the cashier.  "This guy's playing Diablo, I can tell! Am I right?"  To clarify, he was referring to me as "this guy", not the poor cashier.  I just shook my head and said "Nope, no Diablo."
     "What game, then? What do you play?" the interest seemed genuine.  Perhaps my initial impression of the guy was off, and he was, in fact, another gamer.  "WoW" I replied.
     "I play Magic: The Gathering!" piped up the cashier.
     "What do you play?" I asked the apparently-not-a-douche.
     "I don't play video games, I have a LIFE."
     Ah.  There it is.  My favorite.
     "Awesome, I have a life, too." I said.  Poor Cashier was observing cautiously.  Please no fighting in the store on my shift. I could hear him silently screaming it in his head.
     "Yeah, well I have a girlfriend, bro."
     "I have a wife.  Imagine that.  I play video games, yet I also have a life, a wife who loves me, and I'm not a total douchebag who gets his jollies mocking a complete stranger over their chosen hobby.  Especially when I can see that stranger is twice my size and I cannot know if that stranger might be a complete psychopath who is barely containing himself as it is."
     "Well, I mean like, cause I have a girlfriend, and uh... she won't let me play games, and uh... ya know, I'm so busy all the time, so I don't uhhh.... have time..."
     "I'm sure that's what you meant.  Have a nice night and get out of the line."  Douchebag collected his purchase and left the store in as dignified a manner as he could muster.
     Poor Cashier asked me as I placed my caffeine supplies on the counter, "So, you Horde or Alliance?"
     'Atta boy, Cashier.  Way to make your customer feel welcome. "Horde." I replied.
    "Dude!" he exclaimed as he rolled up the sleeve of his work shirt to reveal the Horde Symbol in all its shiny red Horde-i-ness, tattooed there on his arm.

     That little exchange got me thinking.  Just why do people treat gamers as sub-human?  I mean, the douchebag's reaction to me insinuating that he played video games was what one would expect if you asked someone if they frequently rob graves to fornicate with the dead.  How dare I imply that he was possibly one of those people?  Did I not see his popped collar? Honestly, what the hell was wrong with me?

     Honestly, I keep my gaming habits to myself in most cases.  I generally only reveal that I am a gamer when another party in conversation has broached the subject.  Most of my family and friends do not even know I play WoW.  The primary reason is that I feel like I lack the strength to have to sit and explain the concept, defend my position, and further elaborate upon how playing WoW is more mentally stimulating than watching six hours of television in a single sitting.

     But why does the public at large view gamers as less worthy of respect?  Is it because of the infamous South Park episode?  Is it because of various news articles on various less-than-balanced news networks implying that playing video games leads to sociopathic genocidal tendencies?  Or is it merely a lack of understanding?

     If the public understood the appeal of gaming better, would they still treat us as they do?  If they knew that while it may look like we're just sitting and staring at a screen for hours, we're actually running numbers and ideas in our heads, watching intently for that split second opportunity to deal some serious hurt to a dragon, would they still think we're all basement-dwelling, cheetos-munching (I'm okay with that one), never-gonna-touch-a-woman, hygiene deprived outcasts?

     I feel like I'm rambling.  Probably because, despite having *just* gotten out of work a few hours ago, I'm already back, and I'm already tired.  The energy drinks have already started to wear off.

     Fifteen hours to go.

     Please, dear readers, let me know of your experiences with strangers' reactions to gaming, gamers, and the whole idea therein.  I'm interested to know.


  1. I've had fairly varied reactions, one time while in line at Target the cashier(male) noticed my horde shirt and started talking to my husband about the game, he was like "She's the one who plays direct your moon man talk at her" ( he plays off and on but prefers single player games or Minecraft) One guy gave me an extra serving of potstickers for being horde. A girl who played an undead priest hugged me because I was wearing a priest shirt (for mothers day and such I get WoW t-shirts nicely drawn cards I have a fair number of shirts). at a birthday party my daughter attended one of the fathers played WoW but alliance and we joked about PvP. Mostly public stuff about gaming has been positive, or slightly strange. My family mom, dad (dad thinks Wow looks cool but it's not his thing) and such ask me about games some but don't have anything against it, My mom was taking me to Gen Con when I was 16, hosting Dungeons and Dragons at our house, while my dad would be playing on his Atari later Sega and NES in his office. Gaming has never been an unusual pastime in the social circles I was in, so perhaps I'm odd that way

    1. I wish I had the same level of understanding in the people around me.

  2. I'm really wary of telling anyone that I game. I came into work one day to hear my colleagues (including the one who is obsessed with comic books) going on about how computer games turn people into psychopaths...

    I tried explaining WoW to my Mother once but she wouldn't listen and despite meeting my Father through a pen pal scheme, was sure I'd meet some basement dwelling mass murderer.

    I definitely think stereotypes are to blame for a lot of the negativity surrounding gaming by those who don't participate themselves. We see it in the media all the time both in the news section but also fictionalised in books, tv shows and films. The guy (and it's nearly always a guy) who lives with his mother in a basement surrounded by empty pizza boxes.

    I wonder if it's because gaming is perceived as something for children, so society tends to look down on adults who find pleasure from it even though the vast majority of games I play, I wouldn't let a child come within ten feet of.

    1. It's weird. The stereotypes are the ones being the most reported. You'll never see a news story about those people who do marathon WoW sessions to raise money for charities, and you'll never see a story about someone rescuing someone from a burning building based on something they learned in WoW (get out of the fire!).

      All you ever see is someone killed someone else, and "Oh, they played WoW, that explains EVERYTHING!". It's like they just need a focus for the blame, and gaming is a nice generic, misunderstood, and just vague enough area that nobody can really fight back about it.