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Just a Word


After nearly 15 years working as a chef (I started working early to pay for my video game hobby ;) ) and then taking up a short gig in Italy and meeting who is now my amazing wife and moving to the Big Boot permanently I decided to make a career change before my mind descended into strange aeons and my body rusted up. Being mother tongue in English and only having a basic usage of Italian at the time, the most available job to me that didn't require some kind of degree was teaching ESL. I've been doing it for a few years now and have found I absolutely love teaching and will probably stick with it for a while.

During my time teaching I get a lot of questions from my students, who are mainly business people and college kids, about myself and my culture. And in anyway I can elicit my students to ask questions, which is one of the more difficult aspects of English, I am always happy to oblige them with answers. Probably one of the most commonly asked questions pertains to my hobbies, when compared to the other teachers in the school I work for, are quite out of the ordinary and foreign to the students themselves. I guess there aren't as many people as I thought who are into semi-obscure metal bands or video games.

Usually when I say I'm really big into gaming I end up getting weird looks. "Here's this mild mannered, good looking, well presented, mid 30s gentleman with a great beard, surely he doesn't play with kid's toys and passionately listen to angst-ridden teenager music" I can see them saying to themselves with a touch of disappointment in their eyes. To which I often reply "Have you ever played any video games?" They tell me that they play Candy Crush on the Metro or used to play Super Mario Bros. when they were kids but grew out of it. Or they tell me that their damn, good-for-nothing son just sits up all night playing FIFA or CoD. The occasional college student of an average age of 21 may say he likes the previously mentioned games and GTA, but that still is a rarity. Regarding the adults I tell them that video games have become much different than the SMB days and that Candy Crush is only a small piece of the different kinds of games one can play today. I tell them that some games today don't even need to have an objective or rely on competition; you can just meander around a digital world and do as you please. I tell them that some of the best stories I've ever experienced have come from video games and the fact that they are presented through something interactive makes them even more powerful.

The other day, a higher level student asked me why they are called 'games' after I gave him a very brief explanation of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. In many Romantic languages a 'game' is related to competition. Soccer is a game, Basketball is a game, swimming is not and neither is strolling around a forest looking for clues to the murder of a young boy. It kind of struck me dumbfounded and to try to save face I simply pulled a response out of my ass and said that no, the actions within the game weren't a 'game' but the platform it's presented on is a game since there is an end-goal to try to save the boy. "Well when you go running your goal is to reach a finish line or a certain distance. That's not a game." he told me. "I think you should call some games something else, like 'interactive films'."

I had to agree with him 100% and told him the though had crossed my mind a few times. But the word 'video game' is so deeply integrated into our culture that I don't think it's stigma will ever be erasable. "Well, keep saying it, it may stick and maybe more people will try an interactive film more than a video game. I know I want to try that walking around the forest thing you were talking about a lot now." I smiled, said that he gave me some food for thought, and then switched the subject because I had phrasal verbs to teach.

So, do you D-Toiders feel that it would be beneficial to gaming if we stopped referring to them as games and something like Interactive Films or Interactive Entertainment? Do you think it's possible at this point? Would separating competition based games from more narrative/exploration games segregate the strong community us gamers have created?

Let me know. I'm genuinely curious about what you all have to say about the terminology of video games.

Peace Love and Video Games!!!!!

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About Riff Raffone of us since 10:06 AM on 05.23.2013

I like video games obviously with a particular interest in Nintendo, adventure, rpg, and horror games. I like other stuff too. I don't pee on the carpet.

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