“Most of the time, when an adult tells someone that they’re into video games, they’re immediately
met with a frown or puzzled look. Society has deemed this is not an activity to be looked highly
upon. This is despite the amount of mental exertion, and sometimes critical thinking, required in
some games. Words by Matt Brown”

When asked what my hobbies are, the honest answer is that first and foremost, in my spare time, I am a gamer. This isn’t the answer I generally give, though. Video games have had, and continue to have a social stigma attached to them. They are childish pastimes, beholden to socially awkward teenagers who sit in their darkened bedrooms, playing nothing but Call of Duty for hours on end.

As a child, I was guilty of this – idling long hours away, exploring fantasy worlds such as Hyrule (Zelda series) or trying to best Sephiroth (Final Fantasy 7). As I grew
older, my love of gaming never subsided – just the amount of free time I had to indulge in my favourite past time. The stigma around it hasn’t changed much in the 30 some years I’ve been playing, though. My partner also plays video games, and, in fact, she’s
quite taken with a series from Bethesda, called the Fallout series. But, games aren’t for girls apparently, despite the fact that women make up almost half the gaming demographic. Of course, being a gamer doesn’t necessarily mean you sit there on a console. I’d argue the majority of people who own mobile phones have played, or do play some form of game on them, whether it was Snake on a Nokia 3310, or Candy Crush on
a modern smart phone, tarnishing themselves with the gamer label. Gaming is an active pastime, not a passive one. Around the water cooler on a Monday morning, it is accepted
when someone talks about spending the weekend binge watching a TV series on Netflix – a passive activity, which, depending on the series, can require no thought whatsoever, but just a coma like daze with image and sound washing over them. Whereas, if I were to try to discuss how I spent the weekend trying to beat a boss in Dark Souls, well, it wouldn’t be the best idea. Video games are active entertainment – they require mental thought, concentration, and reflexes. Of course, this can depend on what game you are playing, but
regardless, the point still stands.

Videogames are not all violent, nor do they lead to actual violent acts. Let’s get over the
second point now; violent video games don’t make people violent. Rock n’ Roll in the
50’s didn’t destroy an entire generation. Violent cinema doesn’t make everyone who watches it a killer. The list is endless, and video game content is as diverse and eclectic as any medium you can think off. Not all games are Call of Duty, like not all cinema is Scarface, and not every novel is American Psycho. Gaming can take the player on wondrous personal adventures and journeys, and that’s a key point – they are always personal. No other medium can come close to this. I’ve had many idle discussions with friends about a game we are both playing, and how drastically different our experience with the world and inhabitants has been- how through our choices we have crafted different
stories, meaning and adventures. That seldom happens with other mediums. Video games have grown up with their audience, and maybe it’s time those who don’t indulge, grow up a little, too.

Matt Brown

© 2018 – VIDA Magazine