TBT - Old School's Odd Thoughts: What Does Gaming Do For You?
I’m not a gamer. In fact, you could call me the resident non-gamer at Gaming With Swag (I guess I had so much Swag they gave me a pass on the Gaming part. Just kidding). As the resident village idiot, I’ve been known to have outsider opinions and downright skewed outlooks (But I’m getting better). When I start to pen a piece (or type for our purposes), I come at gaming sideways, and I have written bizarre articles (remember this doozy ) or, at least, unconventional ones (Doozy #2 ). On that note, I’ve reflected on the gaming as a hobby itself---its merits, its shortfalls, and everything around and between them, and subsequently, I've been asking myself: "What does gaming do for you?"
At the present, not much. I get to join some buddies for a game night once every 6-8 weeks, and when my nephews and nieces come to our place, I play some SNES or Wii. But on the day-to-day, I game rarely. Even if I want to sit at the console, something else always gets my time; and it's sad, really, considering how much gaming has brought help and joy to my life.
When I look back on the pre-teen years where I was avidly attached to my SNES, I can see a number of things gaming did for me (for details on what games did the trick, go Here, or Here, or…or just go to the page). Back then, video games created a safe space. Granted, it was a space filled with dragons, mutants, and Zangief, but it was a place without bullies or real world pressures, an environment that I could to some degree control or at least immediately leave when levels got too frustrating (Shout out to Disney's The Lion King). Back then, I needed games as I processed life. Fighting games allowed me to release frustration through button mashing. RPG’s took me to another world and gave me a sense of adventure. Some games were simply beautiful escapist entertainment. Even some arcade experiences allowed me to feel a little less strange and alone.
Which is ultimately what gaming did for me in college: it created an environment for fellowship. Whether I was settling Catan or playing Perfect Dark at 3 AM, the gaming experience was all about the act of being together, of sharing time (and in some instances, sheep and ore). Gaming provided a catalyst for being with others and experiencing life together. The table became more than just a place to play; it was a place to chat and share. Even if the environment became incredibly toxic (Again, Catan, I'm looking at you), the overarching community that developed was wonderful. Oftentimes, the gaming table became the most beloved and enjoyed time of day, starting at a ripe late hour and sometimes--not always but sometimes---leading to breakfast as a group the next morning.
I think it's kind of beautiful how that changeover happened. I didn't even realize it until recently. For others, I know it's been the opposite. The teen years were full of evening D&D or playing Goldeneye passed midnight, whereas college became the time we decided to spend dozens of hours alone in the dark playing BioShock. We all have our stories. If you've been reading my submissions here, that's almost all I have.
And upon reflection, it's made me appreciate the hobby more than I have previously, even if it is not an indulgence I allow myself these days (right now, I am really on an action figure kick. That eBay is getting me). But as I look back at the times when I most loved gaming, I see a vital role it played in those seasons of life. I love it for that. I'm thankful for that.
So, to you all----dads, gamers, gaming dads, or whomever else is reading this---I hope you can understand what gaming does for you. I hope you can recognize the role it plays in your life and what needs it is meeting and how or why. I hope that you can look back at your own experiences with a fondness and reflection that says, "I never realized it, but I loved that game because it allowed me to bond with my brother, and we didn't have a ton in common outside of it" (Thank you, Metal Marines).
Who knows, you might fall in love with the hobby all over again. I'm thinking at some point, I just might, too.