Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Has my gaming changed over the years?

I was sitting here thinking about a question that a podcaster asked for their show recently and how I was going to answer it as they posted that the show was being recorded. Specifically I’m talking about The Nexy Show an MMO gaming podcast and the question was, “Has your gaming changed over the years? Interests and/or values? If so, why?” and since I did not get to share my answer for that show I am writing it.

I guess on the surface this is a pretty innocuous question to which I can describe my gaming history. My first console was a SNES which I received second hand with a selection of random titles only two of which I can recall now – Super Mario Bros. 3 and Final Fantasy.  I would later upgrade to the N64 which was almost immediately replaced by the Playstation. I would also own just about every Gameboy version to come out. Though I played just about any cheap game I could get I developed a particular affinity for RPGS which would carry into today.  I was not a PC gamer initially and likely because my PC hardware has always lagged behind what could be gamed on. My first devotion to any PC game would be the Java browser-based Runescape. I would later play Guild Wars, WoW, and a host of other things. I never truly went back to consoles after this point mainly for financial reasons not wanting to keep up with the console and $60 a title model. Today I still stay close to RPG genres currently being in Path of Exile and Diablo 3 mostly.  

Now, knowing me I would hope anyone finding and reading this site wouldn’t expect me to take time just to post that. I was more intrigued by a concept or angle that Esme over at the Nexy Show may never have even intended one to read from the question. They ask how your “values” have changed in relation to gaming and I’m likely supposed to read this as what elements do I value in my games but I’m in the mood to take it differently and discuss “Gaming values” and culture in general. When I was a child being exposed to video games I did not attach any particular social element to my playing Mario with my grandmother. As I got into hanging out with friends playing Tony Hawk and then into the online realm with WoW and the like this is where the stereotypical image came in. Now I didn’t play games, I was a ‘Gamer’ and this came with a set of social expectations on me that differentiated me as a Gamer and my grandmother playing Mario as something else. We can express this today as the person playing Candy Crush on their phone while waiting for people/etc. 

Nowhere in history is this more relevant than today where every element of your life is an expression of your beliefs or expectations. Eating a chicken sandwich is a statement about gay rights, drinking coffee is a protest  about gun rights, and being a ‘Gamer’ is; I’m told; a representation for the gender-status quo. Before I accidently start on a subject about that specifically I would pose a follow up question to anyone reading and wanting to think about how they view themselves playing games and what that might mean, “What should ‘Gamer’ mean; not just in what types of media are consumed but in what presumptions or expectations are we putting behind calling someone a ‘Gamer’?”
Yes I have a follow up to this already in my head :)

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