A whole new (virtual) world

The Southerner

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By Gilbert Young

In the beginning, there was the Atari. Ever since, there was an increase in people who dub themselves gamers. There was a time when anyone seen playing games were seen as the stereotypical nerds that we see represented in movies and television shows. Surely no one with a semblance of a social life would want to play video-games. As time passed, and society changed, we now see gamers being seen in a better light.

Perhaps a question that may be in many minds is: what is a gamer? The term itself varies broadly, but in my mind, a gamer is someone who regularly plays video-games as a hobby. Of course, there are some people who are casual gamers and some who are more hardcore ones. Personally, I fall into the latter half of that spectrum. In a week, I probably play over 10 or 15 hours. Maybe a bit more. Some of you may not have batted an eye at those last couple of sentences, and others may have been shocked. A few of you may have gone so far as to judge me. For those who did, shame on you.

In the hours I play, I talk to dozens of people. Some of these people, I now call friends. I’ve had people at school that regularly don’t talk to me, but after two hours, we’ve bonded. While I do admit that the social aspect of video-games is rather limited, and I do not recommend  people play instead of talking to real people, there is something there. There are certain moments that you have with your friends that you treasure. For me, these games just add another opportunity to have these moments.

Now if we talk about the games directly, there is only one way that I can really explain why they have such allure. You get to go to a new world, with new people. A new life and a new start. You get to step into the shoes of some of our country’s finest. You can be a soldier on a battlefield, or a basketball player on the court, and absolutely everything in between. Does this not sound appealing in some way? And when we finally start playing, we get story lines that end up being better written than most of today’s books. We have gone from shooting asteroids and eating ghosts, to protecting family, making moral decisions, and other more human elements. A perfect example of this would be a game called Heavy Rain, a modern masterpiece. I recommend looking it up if you have the time.

Gaming has come so far in the last few years. Now we have games on our phones and tablets and computers. We have children who are growing up around such technology, and loving it. There are multimillion dollar industries that are based upon giving people a fun gaming experience. Nowadays, there are very few who haven’t heard of the name “Temple Run,” or “Subway Surfer,”. There are even fewer still that have never heard of “Angry Birds,” another lovely game. While some older people may not enjoy gaming rest assured, the next few generations will.

I’m not going to assume that you understand what some of us gamers feel. It is simply too hard to explain. You see games as recreational, no more no less. That is fine. Some of you reading this may play games yourself, and still not understand. That’s cool. The point I am trying to get across is that there is a community of people who play games and have a very special connection to them. This community is one that would not have existed 30 years ago. Belonging to this community and loving it is what makes us gamers.

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