blog: Guiltless Gaming

I remember being around 14 years old and begging my mom to drive me to our local GameStop so I could pick up the brand-spanking new Xbox 360 I had reserved. I walked into the store, picked up the prepaid console I had spent so much time saving up for, and headed back to the car. Excited as I was, there was a weird energy in the car that even my underdeveloped teenage brain could pick up on. Breaking the silence, my mom eventually asked the question that still nags at me till this day and said, “So when do you finally grow out of this stuff?”

Ten words was all it took to cast this dark cloud over my very good day, but it got me genuinely thinking about if and when I ever ‘finally grow out of this stuff.’ Clearly it never happened, hence the existence of this website, but at the time I didn’t have a good answer for it. I didn’t know how to properly express to my mother that this was my favorite hobby and there’s nothing wrong with playing games. To her and a lot of my family members, this was just another toy, some expensive brick of wires and plastic that was exclusively for juveniles.

It was from then on out that I did my best to avoid even acknowledging my love of games to anyone in my family. It turned into this self imposed taboo that I would hide away in my room and do in private, which sounds way more sinister and gross than I want it to. Even at 18 when I moved out I still kept my hobbies squirreled away from everyone in my family. I’m sure they all still knew that I was a big nerd, but I would always just do my best to never bring any of it up to anyone. When asked simple questions about what I got up to that day, telling them I watched TV all day was more palatable than being honest and saying I played games.

Hell, even to this day I still downplay my gaming hobby to most people I meet solely because in the back of my mind playing video games still feels a little childish. I know in actuality it isn’t, and I know that I shouldn’t care about what people think, but it’s hard to get past the antiquated stigmas that have carried over from my childhood.

It’s even weirder considering I have absolutely no problem boasting to anyone who will listen about enjoying Dungeons & Dragons, but I think that’s a case of me getting into as an adult and knowing how to defend myself from some jagoff who wants to try and tear me down for liking it, but video games are tougher because of how they were stigmatized when I was a kid. They were products for children and advertised as such, which makes it really hard to portray myself as a functioning adult who also enjoys playing video games, especially when it comes to my family. It makes me wonder if people who got into Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon as kids feel the same way as I do now that they’re adults.

Maybe I’m just in my own head too much and need to learn to better let go of the shitty and snide comments people have said to me in the past, but that’s easier said than done. It helps to have friends and a partner that are all supportive of and even partake in gaming cause I don’t have to defend or justify anything to them. It’s mostly just about how the general public and my family perceives the act of gaming that makes me feel intensely judged for liking what I like.

That insecurity that I feel about my gaming habits is mostly of my own creation and I recognize that. I fear a lot of ‘what if’ scenarios, where someone is going to make me explain myself and score me on how good of an adult I’ve been or something. It’s completely irrational, especially because I’m a grown-ass man who doesn’t have to explain shit to anybody if I don’t want to. So I’m gonna go ahead and keep on doing what makes me happy even if some of the most important people in my life think it’s too childish.

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