Don’t tell me how to live my life: video games and nerd culture
Confession time: I’m really not that into video games. And by really not that into video games, I mean I hardly ever think about or care about them.
Maybe it’s because I never played them growing up (I didn’t have a system bigger than a Gameboy until I was 18, and only ever played my Gameboy when I was sick. I can’t even tell you what kind of Gameboy it was. I think it was DS.), maybe it’s because I’ve never been a true “Indoor kid” (I love my geekiness, but I’ll take hiking and camping to 28-hour-gaming marathons any old day, thank-you-very-much), maybe it’s something else entirely that I haven’t even thought of yet.
But the truth is, I don’t care for video games, and that apparently is a problem for a lot of people.
I love a lot of really nerdy things. I do everything from read comic books to playing D&D to staying up really late analyzing all of the main characters of Firefly. You don’t have to like or do all of those things to enjoy nerd culture, of course, but the fact is, a lot of my interests happen to fall into that culture’s category.
But I don’t like video games. I understand that video games can be cool. I enjoy watching other people play video games, I can definitely admire the work that goes into building those worlds (and I love it when games take the time to write good dialogue and good stories, like Portal or Borderlands), I think Journey is one of the greatest pieces of interactive art ever created. But if given the choice between playing a video game and doing almost any other recreational activity, I’m probably not going to pick the video game.
Maybe part of me secretly thinks that video games are a waste of time. Most games require you to spend a lot of time leveling up your character, and I barely have the patience to wait for my cats to show up in Neko Atsume. I understand and respect that spending the time to beat a level or create a super awesome character gives a lot of people a sense of accomplishment, but whenever I beat a level or spend more than a half hour a day playing Skyrim, all I can think of is all the other things I could have done during that time.
Maybe part of me just doesn’t like the stress caused by games in which you’re put in situations where you could die or something bad might happen to you. I have enough stress in my life; I don’t need my sources of entertainment to cause me more.
So, I don’t like video games. And I’m ok with this. I have no secret desire to like video games. I don’t currently own a gaming system, and I am highly unlikely to change that at any time in the future. But apparently this is a problem for some people.
More than once I’ve told someone (especially someone I’ve been dating) that I don’t play video games, or don’t have a system, and their immediate reaction is something along the lines of, “Well, we’re going to have to rectify this right away!” No one wants to accept that I might not want to “rectify” the situation. No one asks why I don’t play. It is assumed — I’m guessing because I am so into other aspects of nerd culture — that I do (or at least should) enjoy video games, and that it is necessary that I make them a part of my life — whether I want to or not.
I want to tell these people, stop. I want to tell them not to tell me how to live my life. I want to tell them that I’m ok with not participating in that aspect of the gaming culture. But they don’t listen. Nobody listens. And if they do, they become disappointed, or, more often, belligerent. Something is wrong with me if I don’t play games.
I am ok with not playing games. I know that playing them does not add in any way to my happiness and quality of life. I have yet to take up any of these friends or potential partners on their offers to outfit my computer so it can play Steam games, or to come play games on their xBox. I am a proud nerd who doesn’t want to play video games, and when you all are ready to take a break leveling up or shooting guys or building cities, I’ll be over here with my stacks of comic books and my Hello Kaylee t-shirt, ready to talk about Deadpool or Sailor Moon.