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Andrew Kauz avatar 12:04 PM on 09.28.2009  (server time)
How Destructoid single-handedly changed my motherís opinion of gaming

I started playing videogames at a very young age Ė a time when gaming was largely viewed as a hobby for children. This was the prevalent belief in my household as well. As my brother moved on to more adult pursuits like cheva, I decided to take a different path: Iíd just stick to the games that I grew up on. Sure, I played 8 or so years on a football team and had plenty of other hobbies, but as they came and went, playing videogames was pretty much the one constant. Despite the waxing and waning of my free time and the amount of games that I played, this hobby never disappeared.

So when I got to high school and the opinion of gaming among many had changed, its status as a childís hobby began to disappear in a variety of places. In my household, however, this didnít seem to be the case. Instead, as my mother continued to support my hobby monetarily, sheíd begin to comment on my purchases and seemingly censure gaming at the same time. Many times, sheíd see a cartoony cover art and ask why I wanted that game since it looked like it was for kids.

Early on, I tried to explain to her that, no, these games werenít necessarily meant for kids. Videogames, as an industry and an art form, had evolved. A cartoony look was not a way to pander to children, but an artistic choice that defined a gameís style.

But no amount of defense on my part could break my momís armor of gaming misunderstanding. In a way, itís reasonable, as itís the same disconnect that media outlets who cry out against Mass Effect suffer. If you donít actually play the games, youíll have a very hard time understanding what theyíre trying to accomplish with any given characteristic, whether itís an art style, a sex scene, or a smiling anthropomorphic cactus. If you have no desire to understand them, how can someone expect you to sympathize with a gamerís opinions? Now, at nearly 25, nothing has changed.

That is until one day recently when I believe my motherís barrier of understanding may finally have been broken. It was the day that she first navigated to Destructoid.

All adult gamers look like that guy, right?

Like a typical mother, mine has always been very interested in reading anything that I write, even if its subject matter is of no interest to her whatsoever. But when I started writing posts on Destructoid, I didnít bother telling my mom. Out of all of the music stuff I had written in the past, essays about Gravityís Rainbow and the creepy Shirley Temple references, and unfinished fantasy books that I never should have started in the first place, I figured long, sometimes foul-mouthed posts would be of very, very little interest to her.

Still, writing ďThe people who have the power to change the worldĒ made me constantly think back to Flower and what I felt was a second layer of that game that I didnít discuss in the post: the gameís power to change a personís perception of gaming. Iím actually hoping to do an experiment on this somedayóbut more on that when it happens.

Anyway, I went ahead and used this as an excuse to bring up my Destructoid writing to my mom. I think I had mentioned the site to her before in passing, and perhaps had even mentioned some writing, but hadnít really told her what it was about. But one day, I just brought it up, if only to see the reaction.

In my interpretation, this reaction was one of excitement over my writing and utter indifference toward the subject matter, which is pretty much what I expected. Still, I told her how to find that post above and dropped it, thinking that the chances that this conversation would be continued in the future were pretty low.

I was wrong.

Thereís no reason to use this picture again other than the fact that itís very pretty.

This weekend, out of nowhere, my mom brought the post up as she was preparing to help me move. Of course, she said that she read it and enjoyed it, which another mother would do. But to my surprise, she then dropped my post entirely and instead wanted to know about Destructoid.

See, she was surprised by something: she couldnít believe the level of discussion that took place in the comments. As she put it, she was staggered by both the level of intelligence in the comments and the supportiveness of the people leaving them. It was clear that she was expecting a response to the post akin to YouTube comments, which is probably just about the only exposure she has had to the fine art of internet commenting. I canít blame her for that.

What it did do was give me the chance to get on my Dtoid soapbox and give a long dithyramb on the merits of the community here, explaining everything from community blogs to PAX, and at the same time working in little hints about just how much there was to say about this hobby that we all share.

And she listened. By damn, she listened.

Thereís no reason to use this picture. At all. But dawwww.

At the end of it all, she was truly interested in Destructoid as a community, understanding what it is that draws us to this place and why we just canít seem to force it out of our minds. I think she understood why I would buy a green shirt with a robot face on it. I think she understood why I would spend large chunks of time playing and writing about videogames.

But perhaps most spectacular of all, I think, at long last, she might understand or at least accept gaming on the whole. While I donít expect that she still knows what it is about these games that we find compelling and worth writing about, she knows that it isnít just me out there enjoying a childís hobby when I should have left it behind years ago. She knows that youíre out there too, and youíre not children, and youíre not stupid.

So, to you, Destructoid readers and writers, thank you for accomplishing in one fell swoop what I could not achieve in nearly 25 years. While I donít think youíll ever see my maís name gracing an intro post in the forums, just her simple understanding of my beloved hobby is more than enough for me.

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