Gamers, Who Are They?
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“You know, when I was 15, 16, 17-years-old , I spent five hours a day juggling, and I probably spent six hours a day seriously listening to music. If I were 16 now, I would put that time into playing video games. The thing that old people don’t understand is – you know if you’ve never heard Bob Dylan, and someone listen to him for 15 minutes, you’re not going to get it. You are just not going to understand the form, and the same thing is true for gaming. You’re not going to just look at a first-person shooter where you are killing zombies and understand the nuances. There is this tremendous amount of arrogance and hubris, where somebody can look at something for five minutes and dismiss it. Whether you talk about gaming or 20th century classical music, you can’t do it in five minutes. You can’t listen to The Rite of spring once and understand what Stravinsky was all about.
It seems like you should at least have the grace to say you don’t know, instead of saying that what other people are doing is wrong. The cliché of the nerdy kid who doesn’t go outside and just plays games in completely true. And it’s also true for the nerdy kid who studies comic books and turns into this genius, and it is also true for the nerdy kid who listens to every nerdy thing that Led Zeppelin put out. That kind of obsession in a 16-year old is not ugly. It’s beautiful. That kind of obsession is going to lead to a sophisticated 30-year-old who has a background in that art form. It just seems so simple, and yet I’m constantly in these big arguments with people on the computer who are talking about, “I would never let my kid do this and this in a video game.” And these are adults , who when they were children were dropping acid and going to see the Grateful Dead.”
- Penn Jillette -
The above quote speaks chapters on how us as gamers feel about our hobby, and how frustrated we get when it’s stereotyped in mainstream media. Two years ago at PAX 2010, presented by Wil Wheaton (you know, the dude who played Westle Crusher in Star Trek), there was a great speech regarding gaming as a culture. I watched the whole thing, however only the first 10 minutes struck a cord in me as a gamer.
As a 31-year-old guy who still enjoys playing games, I often get asked the question: why would a grown man still enjoy playing games? This is a stigma that has clung to gamers, like myself, since the very dawn of gaming. It is also something I like to expand and debate about to other non-gamers whenever they bring up the topic. I cannot speak for all the gamers out there, but I think most of us will agree with what Wil had to say in his keynote.
With all that in mind, take your mandatory 30 minute smoke/coffee break and read this great interview with Penn Jillette, where after that, you should and watch the video below and throw your opinions into the mix.