As a dedicated gamer in my late twenties, being looked down upon or seen as a grown child is a recurring theme I’ve had to put up with. Whether from girls, or guys who swear they’re more macho because they don’t have time for games, there always comes that time where I’m put in that ‘immature’ box. Some people are decent enough to never criticize my passion, but I know deep down they could never fathom the idea of being so invested in video games.
But what is it exactly that makes people look down on those who choose to continue gaming into late adulthood? Is there truth behind the idea that we should abandon gaming once we take on adult responsibilities?
There’s a few catalysts to this argument. Mainly it’s because people still associate playing games as something children do. But you could argue this by pointing out that many children love Spider-Man, but the movies have a predominantly adult audience. Furthermore, games like Lego Batman, or Pokemon have a child like appearance, but does this mean that only children should enjoy these games?
Then there comes the argument that any self-respecting man or woman should be putting all their efforts into providing for themselves and their family. This is something I believe to an extent. I do believe that we have a responsibility as adults to work and build for the future, as well as creating a better life for those around us. I also believe that as long as you make this your focus, you should then be able to enjoy video games or any form of entertainment you please.
It’s also likely that the same people who look down upon an adult gamer have their own hobbies or activities that they do for fun, so what makes gaming so different? I believe that gaming should be respected on the same level as any other form of entertainment. Gaming is a source of media that goes beyond just providing fun and enjoyment. A good game has the ability to touch you and evoke emotions from you just like a good book or film.
So I believe the misconception about adult gamers being immature comes from society not fully understanding the evolution of video games. Yes, there may have been a period where predominantly children were excited by video games. However, adults have always maintained interest in them throughout the evolution of gaming. Now, in 2014 mature video games are the driving force in the industry. So if this is the case, why should an adult gamer suffer any scrutiny for enjoying their given hobby and activity?
Many of the same people criticizing adult gamers are likely to go to clubs, pubs, or watch TV shows, or go to the theater often. But these are all activities that are seen as positive for the most part. Gaming is the only activity that I partake in where I feel like I’ll be looked at negatively for obsessing over it. However, I feel like gaming is one of the most mentally stimulating forms of entertainment around.
With TV and Movies you have limited control or connection to what is happening on screen. Gaming gives you the power of choice and puts you in morally challenging situations which you must overcome as the player. Because of this, I feel that gaming has the ability to teach you things about yourself and your character that you would likely never learn from other forms of entertainment. So in this sense, you could actually argue that the ones looking down on gamers are the ones too immature to understand the art-form.
Then there’s the fact that gaming has the ability to build communities of like-minded people. Sure there are other hobbies out there that have the ability to connect people, but because dedicated gamers have been looked at as outcasts for so long, it has made them band together and build brotherhoods and bonds unlike any other hobby or activity. I myself have met some of my closest friends through my passion for gaming, and I even earned the opportunity to meet my own father because of my commitment to the gaming industry.
Then there’s also the fact that as an adult, there should be nothing wrong with expressing emotion to something you feel touched or passionate about. For instance, that latest episode of House of Cards may have been touching for you, but can you express why? Many gamers are articulate about how a game makes them feel, whether good or bad, uplifting or disheartening. I feel like society has stopped expressing themselves in an intelligent and articulate manner, but gamers, comic book and movie lovers all possess the ability to articulate how something makes them feel.
This isn’t me saying that nerds are better than everybody else on the planet, this is just me stating that I feel at home speaking with a fellow enthusiast of some art-form or another. Those people who look down upon gaming tend to be the people I have flat out nothing in common with at all, so the level of conversation is extremely limited.
With that being said, it’s my opinion that no dedicated adult gamer deserves to be shunned just because we choose this as our preferred medium of entertainment. Those looking down on us are only doing so because they’re incapable of understanding the level of engagement one can have to interactive entertainment. Of course there are those who take their love for gaming too far, and neglect their family and friends. There have been cases where babies have died, or been taken away from their parents due to their gaming obsessions, but these are rare cases. In society you will always have wild cards that reflect negatively on a portion of people. But ultimately I feel that as long as you’re taking care of your life duties as an adult, then there’s no reason gaming (or any artistic activity) can’t be a part of your life if you want it to be.