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Author Topic: Non-gamers don’t understand games  (Read 1252 times)
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The Rocketman
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« on: March 11, 2013, 06:53:42 AM »

I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Talking to a colleague, friend or family member that has never played a pc game, is often very frustrating. They think all games are bloody and violent, and this hobby is not understood, found to be childish, frowned upon... Sometimes even despised.

Because this has been my experience for the last 20 years, I don’t even bother trying to explain or talk about games to non-gamers anymore. But every so often, I talk about a peculiar trend or something that has impressed me to my non-gamer girlfriend.

Last weekend I was talking about the Walking Dead-game, and though I haven’t finished it yet, I’m simply in awe about what the creators make me –as a gamer – feel. I have honest, sincere emotions. The stuff real gamers talk about in revered tones of when they talk about Planescape: Torment for example.

I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t played it, but here’s a comic which has a similar scene (last panel):

http://penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/05/26

And for those who have played episode 3:
Spoiler for Hiden:
the part where you have the option of shooting Duck.
To give some background: as a player you’re given the option of ending someone’s pain, and basically committing murder on a defenseless creature. You even have to ‘click’ to shoot.

So I was trying to explain to my girlfriend how utterly devastated this made me feel, but I didn’t properly explain it I guess, because she had this disgusted look on her face, and thought it was a horrible game for having players commit these kinds of terrible acts. The game does indeed make you (or makes you choose to) do these atrocities, but it’s not for kicks, or fun, or even pleasure! It makes you do these things because it’s telling an intricate story, and wants you to feel the same way as the main character. But she didn’t see it this way, and having these acts made interactive somehow made it much worse.

When I said I didn’t see a moral difference between seeing a movie or reading a book with similar scenes, she disagreed firmly. The interactivity offered by games made all the difference for her.

So even though I tried to explain the difference between for example Carmageddon*, in which the point of the game is killing pedestrians by car, and the Walking Dead, which offers you an emotional story, it was a moot point for her.

Now, she (and every other non-gamer) is wrong I think. But they don’t understand this medium, and fear it. She often says she wouldn’t like our 2-year old son growing up with video games; and I agree that I won’t force it to him. But if he does share an interest later, I don’t think games are a bad influence. The Walking Dead made me think and made me feel - in this case: made me feel sick! -, and gave me total immersion and escapism; it might even have broadened my horizon. Isn’t that why we also read books or see movies? And I’d much rather play this, than watch silly tv shows…  And I hope the same for my kid later!

It's just quite frustrating sometimes...

*By the way, this is not a diss on Carmageddon, I liked it a lot when it came out!
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Turtle
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 09:22:10 AM »

Force her to play it and make those decisions, she can't really judge properly without having played a good example.
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The Rocketman
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2013, 11:14:26 AM »

Yeah, but that wouldn't work. And I didn't write this specifically about my girlfriend, she's often very understanding when it comes to pc gaming. it was just a general example of the frustration I feel when I try to talk about my hobby. It's just... weird... that people have such biased and wrong views about gaming.
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2013, 11:23:25 AM »

I lucky in that while my wife doesnt do PC gaming she is happy to. play a few bits on her iPhone so understands what and why me and the boys play.

I don't bother with those that don't game, they never get it in the same way I never get other people's hobbies I have no interest in.
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2013, 12:42:05 PM »

That was a great example, Rocketman.  My wife will idly make comments that come awfully close to the news reports that say "See, this killer played FPS games was training" and then she tells me I'm defensive when I list reasons why that doesn't make sense.  Just because I have thought out my counter argument to defend a hobby I enjoy and you don't have a response other than your gut telling you its wrong, doesn't make me defensive.

The way I usually start defending that specific argument is that I play FPS games a lot.  My wife can't deal with moving the two sticks in different directions (and forget using keys and a mouse).  And yet, if we went to the shooting range, it would be like every other real world skill-based game: she would crush me (seriously, when we hit the driving range, I spend the whole time trying to keep the ball from wildly slicing while she's forming a ball pyramid about a hundred yards away - she never plays golf).

Then I bring up the comic book ban and Seduction of the Innocent and how the exact same arguments were being made against comic books (a medium that my wife actually thinks can have artistic merit).

And then I link that to the fact that violence has always been a part of entertainment media from cave paintings to Greek plays gouging people's eyes out to gladiators being ripped apart by lions.  And how, for everyone's complaints that the world is growing more and more violent and that entertainment is doing the same, we're actually far less violent in the entertainment field than we have been in the past.

But, much like in the 60s with comic books and with book/record burning, people don't want to hear the counter arguments.  The reason is when something horrifyingly, obscenely senseless like Newtown happens, the world needs something to explain it, something to blame. 

Also, some people watch their kids playing video games too much and somehow can't parent them to find a balance with real world responsibilities and play, so they blame the device.

I have had conversations with parents about Minecraft, specifically.  Most parents will bemoan how much time their kid spends on the damn thing, and I will tell them that there are far worse things they could be playing.  Minecraft is not mindless, though it can seem that way when you look at a kid's face who is focused on it.  It sculpts the mind in a wonderful way, I think.  There's a hell of a lot of creativity involved, plus learning about building blocks, not just in the sense of literally building blocks, but also in the way the game takes various resources and combines them to create something new (and you have to discover this yourself, for the most part).  It also creates a really cool sense of community.  I have seen kids talk for extended periods about things they have discovered that you can do that other kids have not, but that kid will come back with his own thing he discovered.  There are even virtual urban legends and even a freakin' ghost!

That's just scratching the surface (there's also the diligence and dedication required, among other things).  Most often parents know that I have some knowledge of gaming, and they maybe give the game a little more credit than they had (usually a nod and a "Hmmm" and then they never think about it again). 

There was one time when we were at my daughter's music school and one of the other parent's kids was playing Minecraft.  She lamented, as usual.  And I responded, as usual, by saying there are a lot of positives.  Now, this parent is general one of the cool ones.  She's got a sense of humor; she's down to earth; she's artsy.  But it was as though I had said, "You know, I practice satanic rituals."  She launched into me like I was her kid.  I countered everything she said, of course, and at the end, she just threw her hand up in my face.

This exchange didn't go on very long, but her explosive reaction came out of left field and was like dropping a nuclear bomb on a small town because you didn't like the way one guy smiled at you.  Some people just don't want to hear anything positive about video games.  It's the Seduction of the Innocent all over again.
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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2013, 12:43:04 PM »

TLDR.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Just getting ahead of the game.
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2013, 01:08:34 PM »

I read it, all pretty much spot on. No matter how main stream gaming now is as an over 40 thing it isn't. And as usual some parents have no interest in learning what it is their children are doing.

For me its important that I understand it so when my kids play it and use I can make an informed decision on it rather than just say yes or no and hope I'm getting it right.

Also people that don't game seem to think all we do in our spare time is game yet all a lot of them do is watch that widescreen thing in the lounge as if its a better use of their time. I always say well I have these hobbies and it includes gaming but al you do is watch tv and that's better!!!
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2013, 01:28:23 PM »

Mrs. Gratch isn't a gamer at all, but she has a ton of patience and lets me basically spend as much time as I want in front of the PC/TV.  Every once in a while she gets interested in something I'm playing.  The most recent was when I played Journey on PS3.  She sat and watched the entire time, and was fascinated by the artistry of it.  That said, anytime she sees me playing a JRPG she just rolls her eyes and makes snide comments.

Quote
No matter how main stream gaming now is as an over 40 thing it isn't.

Very much this, and it's something I'm noticing more the closer I get to 40 (38 now).  Of the 35 people on my team, not a single one of my peers at work is a gamer and they look at me cross-eyed when I mention that I am.  Busting out my Vita or 3DS on a plane gets me very strange looks and/or comments (guy asked me on my last flight "Aren't those things for kids?").  There's still definitely a stigma around gaming in general, and it only gets worse the older you get.
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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2013, 01:43:46 PM »

Good stuff from you all


Spoiler for Hiden:
All i know is that i am not killing Paarthurnax the Dragon for the Blades this time around in Skyrim...he's done nothing wrong!! Tongue
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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2013, 01:54:26 PM »

MO:  You may want to spoiler that last bit.  Some of us are playing through Skyrim.  frown
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« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2013, 02:06:38 PM »

its been a year and a half...get on that game now!!
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« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2013, 02:26:22 PM »

Quote from: metallicorphan on March 11, 2013, 02:06:38 PM

its been a year and a half...get on that game now!!

I'm playing it right now, I'm about 25 hours in as we speak. 
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« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2013, 03:24:25 PM »

I never talk about games outside of my own family.  As has already been expressed well, the divide between gamers and non-gamers is often times too much to cross, or takes too much effort.  The outcome of a long discussion with a non-gamer will most likely just reinforce their perception that games are juvenile...or worse, and that there's something wrong with us for liking them (at our age).

I've noticed that the generation of my elementary school aged kids don't even bat an eye about it, unless their parents are strong anti-gamers, and have programmed their kids that games are evil.  All of my kids are gamers, even my youngest who loves driving cars around in Need for Speed.  My biggest challenge is moderating their play time to balance out with the other important areas of their lives.  I think the younger generations are helping to make gaming more acceptable.

My wife is not a gamer, but will appreciate artistic games, good stories, or games that help push and challenge development with our kids.  I've specifically asked her not to mention gaming things that we talk about with her family or friends.  "Hey my husband just hit level 80 on his engineer last week in Guild Wars 2...I'm so happy for him.  He told me he doesn't get to max level in most MMOs, well except for Age of Conan...but he said that game actually gave him levels even when he wasn't playing", would be met with raised eyebrows and complete disbelief from her mom friends in the neighborhood, who would when then pass on horribly botched grapevine version to their husbands.

I'm convinced that many parents are closest gamers that act one way in public, but get back home and iOS game, or work on their SWTOR bounty hunter.   
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« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2013, 04:47:51 PM »

Hear hear, rocketman.

At my son's cubscout meeting this weekend i met one of the dads who is new to the troop. He works at Epic and contributed to all four Gears of War games.  I told the scoutleader and my son 'you're sitting next to a legend!'.

All I got was blank looks frown
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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2013, 09:07:56 PM »

Quote from: Roguetad on March 11, 2013, 03:24:25 PM


I've noticed that the generation of my elementary school aged kids don't even bat an eye about it, unless their parents are strong anti-gamers, and have programmed their kids that games are evil.  All of my kids are gamers, even my youngest who loves driving cars around in Need for Speed.  My biggest challenge is moderating their play time to balance out with the other important areas of their lives.  I think the younger generations are helping to make gaming more acceptable.


This is actually part of the counter argument I usually bring up when someone starts talking up games as murder simulators.  That saying a killer had video games in their home is evidence that they warp minds is just as valid as pointing out that someone has a television or toothbrush, since they are all equally ubiquitous by this point.

Also, the Virginia Tech shooter apparently didn't have any video game history at all, which is even more surprising (and, I'm reluctant to say, telling).
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« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2013, 09:53:06 PM »

Yep, total agreement.  My mother in law in particular is bad about this - she thinks anything associated with gaming is childish (yet she sees nothing wrong with passively watching hours upon hours of sports on TV).

Even in interactions with friends and colleagues, it's rare to find someone my age who is into games other than Rock Band or Madden.  A guy at church mentioned X-Com in an off-hand conversation - then we proceeded to jaw about games for a good 20 minutes.  Awesome, but its been the exception, not the rule.
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« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2013, 10:08:12 PM »

I've had a lot of this to deal with.  Anyone who comes over to my home sees the massive TV and they are shocked when I say "Yea, I don't watch football.  UFC yes, but football no. That's my gaming TV".  Suddenly my hobby is a 'waste'.  If I pull open the side drawers on the entertainment center (or heaven forbid they see the panorama of games that encircles the ceiling of my office) they are horrified.  "Do you do anything else with your life but game?!"  I try to tell them about my training 4 days a week, the time my wife and I spend just reading, or anything else I do with my limited spare time, but it's too late - they've already passed their judgement.   I'm "childish" and as a gamer I am "wasteful" with my time.  I guess it doesn't matter that more than a third of a MILLION people stop by just to hear what we have to say doesn't seem to matter to them.  I figure, meh, to hell with them...I'll continue to do my thing and be happy.  They can stand off to the side and tell me how pointless it all is - I'll be over here having fun.  smile
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« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2013, 11:22:30 PM »

on the other hand, if you are out at a party or wherever and you start talking to other adults there, when someone says, " In my spare time I still like to game"  .. bingo  instant connection, and you grab a beer and go off talking about our great hobby. 
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« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2013, 11:40:41 PM »

Quote from: tcweidner on March 11, 2013, 11:22:30 PM

on the other hand, if you are out at a party or wherever and you start talking to other adults there, when someone says, " In my spare time I still like to game"  .. bingo  instant connection, and you grab a beer and go off talking about our great hobby. 

Yep just like sports, gaming is an instant attraction between people even if they are relative strangers.
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« Reply #19 on: March 12, 2013, 02:29:00 AM »

Sad that it never happens, though.

I had one friend who was a gamer in a dinner group we joined and over a couple of years, he just let the hobby go.
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« Reply #20 on: March 12, 2013, 03:42:01 AM »

Think of all of the weird looks you get for mentioning that you play games and then imagine what it is also your profession.  Yeah, that really gets you lots of respect.  Oh, and all the ladies. 
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« Reply #21 on: March 12, 2013, 04:15:38 AM »

About every armed forces service member I have ever met has been a gamer, even the old crusty dudes that has been in since the 80's.
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« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2013, 06:19:19 AM »

Quote from: USMC Kato on March 12, 2013, 04:15:38 AM

About every armed forces service member I have ever met has been a gamer, even the old crusty dudes that has been in since the 80's.

Dude easy with the crusty comments, I was in the Navy back in the early 80's.  I remember playing Warlords on an Atari 2600 when the Captain dropped by, I asked him if he wanted to join in but he declined, more of a golfer I guess.
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« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2013, 06:33:17 AM »

Sounds like he was more suited for the Air Force.
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« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2013, 11:13:20 AM »

I have a young nephew who's 17 or so (I'm 32), and he suffers from autism. I've always had some difficulties communicating with him, finding topics of interest to talk about... Until last christmas, we started talking about gaming, and suddenly we had an hour-long conversation in which I could offer my gaming wisdom (Baldur's Gate! UFO: enemy unknown! NES games!) and he was soaking it up like a sponge, but meanwhile trying to convert me to japanese RPG's!

So yeah, gaming is a great topic to talk about, if you find someone at least...
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« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2013, 12:52:16 PM »

My wife is a non-gamer and she's been very understanding about my need to play games. Has been since we were dating. She thought my LAN gaming weekends were great social activities for me and my friends as we'd gather at someone's house for 48 hours of non-stop gaming. At one point she even came along and it became a girls/guys thing where all the girlfriend/wives would gather upstairs, talk and socialize while all the guys hung out in the basement gaming.

She's even been 'game' enough to try Diablo and some Counter-strike, although both were not for her. She gave it a good try though and her play-by-play comments were hilarious. However, she does get into Dance Central and gaming with the Kinect.

My parents and my relatives who are my parents age don't really mind it, considering my career and how an interest in gaming and computers got me there. So I guess I've been lucky in that I haven't had to defend gaming much. I guess it will be tested once my daughters get into public school and I start to meet other parents - some of whom will inevitably be non-gamers. Still, I have an ace in my back pocket and I think saying that "gaming helped me work on spacecraft that went to Venus and Mercury" will shut up the detractors real quick.
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« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2013, 09:27:05 PM »

My wife played years ago but she is pretty much done with them now. No time. My two daughters both play them on consoles.

None of my friends play them, but they have a couple 20 year old sons that do a lot of console gaming and we often end up talking about who is playing what.
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« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2013, 10:41:20 PM »

Quote from: raydude on March 12, 2013, 12:52:16 PM

She thought my LAN gaming weekends were great social activities for me and my friends as we'd gather at someone's house for 48 hours of non-stop gaming.

I miss the days of weekend-spanning LAN parties.  Stumbling out of the basement bleary eyed on Sunday night after gaming for days straight was awesome.  No IRL gaming friends that live near me though...those days are gone.  frown
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« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2013, 10:53:46 PM »

Quote
those days are gone
 but in 20 years or so, retirement communities may become havens for us gamers to meet up again, plenty of time, etc.  Screw bridge and card playing,  bring on the virtual games.
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