So I'm one of those video game nerds who grew up in the 80s. Zelda, Mario, Mega Man, Ninja Turtles... you know the games. I'm still a gamer all these years later, currently using valuable time on my PS3, PSP, DS, GameCube, Dreamcast and Saturn. My favorite genre is probably RPGs, which is no surprise since as a child I enduring the punishing torture of Final Fantasy I and Dragon Warrior I. I also love action/adventure, puzzle, FPS and pretty much every other video game genre out there, except for sports.
When I'm not wasting time with video games, I'm wasting time as the webmaster of the Mecha and Anime HQ, or recording podcasts. I also have this annoying thing called a day job, which by the way is a reporter.
Looking back at Saturday's Dtoid party, I think it showed me something that I always knew but never really put much thought into: video games are an amazing form of social media.
Of course, not everyone is in on this. Like comic books and movies before them, video games are still struggling to find mainstream acceptance. You've got critics like Roger Ebert opining that video games aren't art. You've got the mainstream media and the likes of Jack Thompson itching to blame every social ill on video games. And you've got this common stereotype that video game players are sweaty fat guys who live with their parents.
But we all know that none of that is true.
Over the years, I've seen that video games are one of those rare forms of entertainment that you can enjoy alone or in numbers. Growing up in Miami with an allergy to mosquito bites, you can imagine that most of my childhood was spent indoors. Thankfully, I was able to spend that time with all sorts of great games, from Mario to Mega Man. Sometimes I'd have friends over and we'd rock out to Contra or TMNT II. But whether I was alone or not, I always had fun playing video games (except of course with those horrible movie tie-in games Acclaim suckered me into buying because I was a dumb kid and didn't know better at the time).
Being at the Dtoid party really laid it all out clearly though. You had people from all parts of the country coming together not just out of love for a website with a robot mascot, but out of a love of video games in general. During that party, my friend Cristian and I discovered while playing a MAME cabinet that our nostalgia for the 1980s Ghostbusters arcade game was entirely misplaced (although it was still better than the horrible NES game). We also watched in amazement as a Dtodier used amazing skills to plow through The 3D Battles of WorldRunner (if you're reading this, you know who you are, but I never got your name). Of course, you also had people rocking out to Rock Band, and who couldn't be impressed by Street Fighter IV projected on the side of the building?
Of course, there's more to video games than just playing them. Spending as much time as we do on games, we know a lot about them and like talking to people about them. What better icebreaker is there at a large video game party where you don't know a lot of people? It's a great way to get a conversation going and make new friends.
Kind of like this random encounter I had last year at a Japanese restaurant with two amazing people named Colette and Niero.