”Critics who treat "adult" as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adults themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence....When I was ten, I read fairytales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. “
—C.S Lewis, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”
Looking around my squat little dorm room that I call “home” this year at the university, you might never know that I’m a gamer. My laptop isn’t really powerful to run any games without horrible framerate issues, there’s not even a TV to be seen, let alone any game systems hooked up to it, and the walls are void of any of kind of posters, art, figurines, or other gamer-related paraphernalia. I have no game-related shirts or hats or other merchandise to show off my gamer credentials as I walk to my classes.
The truth is, for the majority of my time here at the university, I’m not
a gamer. Studying for a biology degree and the MCAT placement exams, as well as serving as a tutor-mentor for the university, doesn’t leave a lot of time (or money) to play as much as I used to. Here at college, my professional role is as a student, whether I like it or not. As a kid, you have all the time in the world to dive headfirst into games and explore to your heart’s content, but as you grow older it becomes harder and harder to afford the costs of living inside of a virtual world. Sooner or later you have to climb back out and face the real world and take on the adult responsibilities that come with it. It’s a hard fact of life
…Or so they say. Growing up to many people often means leaving “childish” things behind us. And while it’s true that I’ve had to forgo actually playing them seriously for awhile now in order to pursue a serious career, the absence of that physical aspect of playing games has really forced me to look at the medium as a whole in a different light. As I have grown up, my thoughts on games themselves have also grown and matured into something that I can take with me and share on an academic level, not just with other gamers.
I’ve realized that “growing up” in truth doesn’t mean forgetting video games entirely
, but instead finding a way of balancing my love of the medium with real life concerns. If anything, growing up has instead reinforced my love of gaming now that I’m able to apply deeper levels of critical analysis to titles that I previously only enjoyed on a shallower level. As a kid, I would know whether a game was “good” or now, but now I’m able to sit down and write a multi-page discussion on why
For example, I’m taking a class on Chinese and Japanese Religions at the university this semester. While discussing Shinto, the class got somewhat derailed by discussing how Japanese mythology and religious practices were incorporated into games like Okami and Persona 4, and influence many other parts of games that are made by Japanese developers. It then got derailed even more
when a debate between me and my professor started about the artistic merit of video games vs. other visual mediums.
But then again, all the philosophical dissertations in the world can’t capture the sheer joy and sitting down a playing a good game yourself. So while I can take my interest in games wherever I go in life, I haven’t forgotten that the reason why I have that interest in the first place is because of that one day, years ago, when I defeated Master Hand for the first time.
And to me, that’s really the mark of a true gamer, someone who understands the advantages, limitations, and development of the medium, but doesn’t forget that the point of playing a game is to HAVE FUN. That part of being a gamer to me at least hasn’t changed over the years.
As long as I have video games to add some fun back into my life, whether through playing them or merely talking about them with others, my life couldn’t be better. 10 years ago when I just started playing games, I wouldn’t have had nearly enough breadth of experience to participate in this kind of analysis. I’ve been exposed to a lot of other works and influences as I’ve grown up that now allow me to look at games that I love in a whole new way. The professors I debate with may not personally see the value of this particular medium, but now I have the knowledge and experience to effectively defend my passion. And even though I’m technically an adult now, I’m not about to give up that passion anytime soon.
LOOK WHO CAME: