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Requiem For A Dork

Author: Geoff Larsen
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Being a gamer you’ll always find yourself in the minority. A few years back if you were over twenty and other people found out you played games the mayor would round up a posse and an hour later you’d tied to a flaming pyre with some frizzed haired preacher in your face demanding repentance.

Times have changed a little but not really. Under all the fake smiles and nods of acceptance the hate still brews.

I walk into work Monday morning and there is the usual gossip roundtable over java. The thirty-something talks about how she and her partner jetted a way on a romantic cruise; the suit-and-tie talks about how he made some killer connections at the bimonthly committee meeting; the punk rocker talks about a killer set laid down by some indie band… and then it gets to me. Wearing glasses that are held together by sheer willpower and a bandaid and dressed in the same outfit I was seen in on Friday I’m not even asked the question anymore.

People find the answer too depressing.

When I answer that I played through Shining Force on the Sega Megadrive for the 47th time or that I spent my days crawling through the dungeons of Shin Megami Tensi: Digital Devil Saga 2 I get the ol’ nod and smile. You don’t have to be a mind reader to know that the staff members are all leaving themselves mental notes not to talk to me anymore.

A typical conversation I have at a cocktail party with a popular girl gamer goes something like this:

Popular girl gamer: Ah yes, I like gaming too. That Wii Sports sure is fun and last night I played a few hours of the Sims; the house I designed is quite cute.
Geoff: Oh yeah, well you might appreciate this. Last night I finished my imported copy of Contra 4 on ultimate difficulty with only three lives. When Konami first said that they were handing development over to an American team I didn’t think they’d capture the brilliance of the NES games but they got it just right, all its 8-bit glory is there. We’ve come a long way from that spread-gun less debacle that was Shattered Soldier. So, ah… if I’m not being too forward… Can I hide my Solid Snake in your Type-A box until we get right off the radar-
Popular Girl Gamer: … What-
Geoff: I mean, Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right B, A. That’s your nude code, right-
Popular Girl Gamer: WHAT!
Geoff: Ah…would you like to waggle my Wiimote until my Dwarfian Warrior levels up- Hey, where you going- Come on! He doesn’t have any negative status effects anymore!

Anyway, the point I’m failing to get across is that hardcore gaming is no more accepted now than it was 10 years ago. Casual gaming is accepted: that emo guy is just playing Guitar Hero because he isn’t competent enough to play a real instrument; that kid is just playing Nintendogs because his parents won’t allow him a real puppy; that hot chick is just playing the Wii because of a Freudian desire to have her hand around something firm and phallic. Come on, be honest.

When I step up and say that I game because I like to rack up a wicked score and am in it for the challenge and feeling of achievement I get laughed at. “If you want a challenge try a real sport,” and, “You can’t talk about achievement when you still live in your parents’ basement”…

And so we hardcore gamers, the proud minority, become outcasts. Personally I’m used to being an outcast, but what about the unsung heroes of gaming who can finish Quake 2 in 12 minutes but were born without any social skills whatsoever, who will fight for their right to Mario Party- How can they possibly fit into a society that sees their hobby as something to be ashamed of-

The answer lies with you my friends. You can either beat us down till our numbers are extinct or join along side us as brothers in arms. The choice is yours.

… Hey, you were supposed to choose the latter!

So I guess it is just me then, the last of a long line of hardcore players, The Lone Gamer riding off into a digital sunset, obsessed and possessed by a gaming demon.  Don’t cry for me however, I’m already dead. Luckily I’ve got two more guys and an amulet of resurrection.