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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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About Andrew Kauzone of us since 5:10 PM on 04.30.2009

In loving memory: PAX 2009 (thanks ZombiePlatypus! And WalkYourPath, of course)

I'm Kauza, which is pronounced like cause-uh. My real name's Andrew Kauz, if you'd rather go for that.

I like talking to Dtoid people, so please add me on your favorite social networking site:
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/kauza
Gchat: santakauz[at]gmail.com.

Basics: I'm 25, and I write things.

Eternal thanks go out to Y0j1mb0 for the amazing header image you see above. So, thanks, sir!

Look at some of the things I've written.

Things on the Front Page:

Mass Effect, Metal Gear, Moon Unit, and more: An interview with Jennifer Hale
The Future: Demanding more from the voices of videogames
Love/Hate: A plea to play as a female Shepard
A warning: Regrets from a former life and experiences yet unlived
Top ten games for people who hate Thanksgiving
The wrong thing: Being evil should be more like sex
Staying dry in a sea of spoilers is a matter of building a boat
Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
Come, take your pilgrimage to gaming's one true mecca
Here's to you, random-JRPG-dialogue-writer-man
The forgotten: Crushing disappointment at the hands of Crash 'n the Boys
The people who have the power to change the world
Improving game communities: Enough with the negativity
The draw of exploration: Antarctica to Oblivion, Shackleton to Shadow Complex
I suck at games: BlazBlue and a slapdash attempt at fisticuffs
I, the Author: My Everest
Untapped Potential: The Gamer's Education
Other Worlds than These: Our World, Only Different

A series sort of thing about status effects
Toxic Megacolon and other fresh status effects
Curse you, status effects, stop confusing my heart
Status effects are poisons that turn my silent heart to stone
Also check out the related forum thread.

The Fall of the Titans (wherein I talk about dead or dying gaming companies)

The fall of the titans part 3: What once was shall be again
The fall of the titans: Sega died so that we might dream of the future
The fall of the titans: Why do the giants of gaming die?

Stories from the Past (a series about my experiences playing certain games):

Stories from the Past: Tobal 2, Tomba! 2, and console double-vision
Stories from the Past: Diablo and the Dark Ride
Stories from the Past: What the f*ck, mom?
Stories from the Past: Xexyz and the battle aboard Turtlestar Lobsterica
Stories from the Past: The One-Balled Man-Bear
Stories from the Past: The Battle of Olympus
Stories from the Past: Suikoden 2

Storytelling (a series about, well, storytelling):

Storytelling: The Problem of Genres
Storytelling: Mass Effect, Vonnegut, and the Fourth Rule
Storytelling: Doing Nothing in "The Darkness"
Storytelling: The Power of a Single Line (Yeah, it was my first post.)

Other stuff that is good:

Lessons on taking games just seriously enough
A consuming power: The demon and the borderlands
Can games transcend good and evil?
Nothing is sacred: We won't let you go alone, but we have made a tragic decision
How Destructoid single-handedly changed my motherís opinion of gaming
Why Tecmo Super Bowl is the greatest sports game of all time
Seven reasons that I will end you in creative ways if you don't play Folklore
Mother Nature and the Impending Death of the Gaming Spirit
Times Games Forgot: The Dark Ages
The Sins and Successes of In-game Collectibles
The Lock is Broken
When Music Surpasses the Game
Truckasaurus Rex and the Humor of Games
I Want to Cry (storytelling related, but not part of the series)

I have others as well that you can check out on my blog. You'll enjoy them or your money back.

Since it seems like the cool thing to do, here a list of my favorite games that is coming straight out of my ass and onto your computer screen, and in no particular order.

Fallout 3
Uncharted 2
Suikoden 2
Mass Effect / ME2
Metal Gear Solid followed by any number you can think of
Tales of Somethingendinginia (OK, and the Abyss)
Battlefield: Bad Company
Xbox LIVE:kauza
PSN ID:santakauz
Mii code:kauza


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