For years, there's been a stigma attached to the word "Gamer." While those within the community embrace and celebrate the term, those without picture adult men living in their parents' basement camped in front of a computer or a console for hours on end (think the Jenkins character in South Park's Make Love Not Warcraft).
While there's certainly truth to some stereotypes, they're generally the exception rather than the rule. I'm a gamer with a full-time job and a beautiful family. I know others who are also living full, happy lives while proudly waving the gamer flag.
People, however, see video games as a waste of time. If you spend several hours on a Saturday in front of a video game you're not out doing something "productive." People see gamers as geeks or nerds who can't get a date. These stereotypes are firmly affixed to the word "gamer," and while we in the community may wear that brand with pride, we're often looked down upon.
So here's where Uncle Mis gets ornery and picks a fight with the world...
It's 2009. Many games, PC and console, have online capability. MMOs, Xbox Live, the Wii Network, etc, etc, etc all allow people to log on and interact with individuals from all over the world. You can chat, team up, compete against one another, and make friends. Instead of going to an arcade at the mall like I did when I was a kid, I log on and, now, the world is my arcade.
If I chose to spend my free time golfing, playing on a beer league softball team, or making models of little boats in bottles everybody would accept that as a legitimate hobby. So what's the difference between any of those things and being a gamer?
Exercise? Fine, I'll fire up my Wii and, believe it or not, get a pretty good workout.
Teamwork? Yeah, there's a ton of that. Read a raid guide.
Skill? Hand-eye coordination, the ability to adapt to changing situations and decide, in a split second, the best course of action to take, on-the-fly calculations...oh, and let's not forget people-managing and leadership if you're a GM or RL.
My wife used to play softball on more than one team at a time. I used to get out and play music a lot more than I do now. When we had the Baby Tank, though, we had to scale back because of her special needs.
WoW is our way of getting social interaction. We've made friends in-game who we talk to out of the game. My brother-in-law plays, and if we didn't we probably wouldn't get to talk to him as often as we do.
We don't really have the time to get to a gym, so we bought Wii Fit. Our oldest daughter uses it, too. Speaking of the kids, about the only time they're not fighting is when they're playing Mario Kart or another game.
Bottom line, I'm proud to call myself a gamer. I think that we, as a community, have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Play your games, have fun, and hold the banner high.
To the teenager who puts up with all the evils of high school society and finds solace in a video game, to the hard-working 9-to-5ers who like to blow off steam when they get home from work, to the moms who like to sneak in a Wii workout while the little one's taking a nap, and to everybody else who chooses to live the life of a geek, a nerd, a gamer...
I salute you.