Recently on Twitter, two hashtags were trending: #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter and #TenThingsNotToSayToAGamer. The latter hashtag was not as popular as the former because #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter was created by professional writers who have been beleaguered by some of the statements their readers gave them, such as, “You’re still doing that writing thing or are you working now?” “When will your next novel come out?” “Writer’s block doesn’t exist. Get on with it,” and “How’s that novel you’ve been working on?” The last quote came from Stewie in Family Guy, but you get the picture. I will write more about this in the foreseeable future.
Today, I want to emphasize on Twitter’s least popular hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAGamer. As a gamer and anime fan myself, I have heard derogatory statements about gaming and anime life from some people, including my family. Here is a list of ten things you should NEVER say to a gamer…EVER.
1. “Instead of wasting time playing video games, you should be applying for scholarships.”
~ My mom told me this last year, and I got pissed off to the point where I wanted to create a meme featuring some of my gamer friends that reads, “We don’t just play video games, but we also…” and place a word that best describes their other hobbies on their pictures. That meme has yet to come to fruition, and I hope I get to create it sometime.
2. “You look like you’re in elementary school instead of college wearing that (Sonic the Hedgehog, Kingdom Hearts, Black Butler, or My Little Pony) shirt.”
~ This one came from my stepdad towards the end of the Spring Semester, and I have to say straight up that that is complete bupkis. I understand that I have to wear only a suit and tie–actually, a blazer and a skirt–when I enter the corporate world after graduation, but to have a parent penalize me for practicing freedom of expression by wearing a T-shirt displaying the characters from Black Butler to a college campus is a great injustice. I have seen other college students don shirts with Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, etc., designs printed on them, so why should my fashion choices accommodate to what my family wants? Just because I’m wearing a shirt that displays one of my favorite video game/cartoon/anime characters doesn’t stipulate that I’m an immature adult who doesn’t take any real world situation very seriously. I mean, Jesus Christ, I got a blue Classic Sonic top from the junior’s department at Macy’s; a pink Classic Sonic T-shirt from my aunt’s friend in Germany; and a checkered Classic Sonic shirt and Black Butler tank top from freakin’ Hot Topic! Did any of my teachers downgrade me for wearing such attire despite the fact that I pay attention to everything they say in class? No, because that’s discrimination. There may be Video Game Design majors who might also be offended by this. (See: Never Judge a Person By Their Shirt)
3. “Keep playing video games and you won’t be moving out of your parents’ house anytime soon.”
~ Oh, really? It just so happens that video games help gamers succeed in life by endowing them the following life skills: patience and perseverance; forward thinking and strategic planning; leadership and socialization; mental and creative prowess; and sympathy and empathy.
My mom sometimes tells me that I have no patience and that I give up very easily when she gives me certain tasks. Ironically, in Pokémon Alpha Sapphire, because Master Balls are so rare, I’ve had to throw at least twenty- to thirty-something Ultra Balls at every Legendary Pokémon I’ve encountered and attempted to weaken until they’re captured completely. I’ve been working on my first novel for over a year now, and I’m not entirely sure when I’ll be able to finish it. But I know that by being patient I’ll be able to persevere through the creative process as quickly as humanly possible. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a novel certainly wasn’t written in a day either. Great things come with time.
Most gamers, like myself, enjoy video games that stimulate critical thinking and problem solving. When I played Angry Birds in high school, I always told myself and a select few people, “It’s more of a game of strategy,” because you can’t sling shoot every bird at your disposal at the same spot every time. You have to think about the most effective way to knock down the buildings that house the bad little piggies, where to hit them, and what power-ups to use in order to stamp out the pigs (if you’re willing to pay for power-ups at all). Games like Angry Birds stimulate the ability to conjure up plans in real-life situations, such as a two-week vacation itinerary, a career path, or a basketball game plan.
Broader society has always viewed gamers as antisocial man-children who are unable to hold down a job, get married and have kids of their own, and may have to be supported by their parents for the remainder of their lives. This is the most vicious stereotype in the history of the gaming industry because it’s a total lie. Before game developers even thought of massive-multiplayer online (MMO) games, gaming involved a large physical gathering of friends in front of a console and a TV as big and heavy as a walrus. Today, gamers communicate over voice and video chat. Hell, they even do Let’s Play livestreams of video games of their choosing for YouTube or Twitch, inadvertently giving their viewers tips on how to get through certain levels they’re struggling with in the same games they’re playing at the moment. Whether they’re playing MMOs or livestreaming console and handheld games, gamers are actually socializing with their peers. As far as leadership goes, that skill is picked up from clans and guilds in Dungeon Fighter Online and World of Warcraft to resolve interpersonal conflicts and inspire motivation towards goals in their jobs.
Games such as Brain Age and Tetris help you work on mental math, reading speed, and concentration, as well as developing pattern recognition skills. Other games also improve memory, hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, visual acuity, and out-of-the-box thinking. I’ve played similar games on Lumosity, and I should probably get back to that.
Most games I’ve played are narrative–the Kingdom Hearts series and the Sonic the Hedgehog series, to name a few–and they do encourage sympathy and empathy. Anyone remember Sora’s reunion with Riku and Kairi in Kingdom Hearts II? That scene certainly played at my heartstrings, including my cousin’s.
Shame on you for saying that gamers never leave their parents’ houses to go after every opportunity life gives them.
4. “Violent video games can turn you into a vicious killer.”
~ Every time a mass shooting occurs–Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, the 2011 Norway killings, for example–the news media tends to blame violent video games, specifically first-person shooter (FPS) games, for those killings right off the bat. Even though studies have shown a correlation between violent games and violent deeds, correlation is not causation. Those findings are phrased the other way around: violent people have been attracted to violent games to begin with. Maybe people who feel the need to wring someone’s neck or literally knock their brains out turn to Call of Duty as an outlet instead. The only predictor’s to one’s violent tendencies are a hostile home environment and actually being bullied by one of their family members.
5. “Flunked your Algebra exam? You shouldn’t have stayed up playing Halo or whatever the hell you were playing the other night.”
~ If you’re a parent or psychologist, you should never assume that video games are the sole reason why your child or patient got a bad exam grade in one or more of their classes. Gamers are more than capable of balancing schoolwork and play, among other responsibilities. Consider this meme you’ve probably seen:
A high school or college student sits down at their desk to pour over their notes for an upcoming Biology exam. Believing that their teacher/professor is expecting too much from them for the exam, they pick up their loose-leaf notes and toss them in the air as they loudly declare in sing-song, “Fuck this shit!” Five seconds later, they bend down to pick up their notes, saying, “Just kidding, I need to pass [this test].” This proves that gamers are not the most irresponsible students most people deem them to be.
6. “Games are a waste of money. You should spend your time and money on important things.”
~ We understand that we should save our money other things like food, clothes, utilities, music, and trips to places we would love to visit, like Hawaii, England, or even Japan (since 90% of the games we play originate from there). But it’s blatantly unfair to say that video games and gaming consoles themselves are a bad investment. To discontinue our financial support for the gaming industry is to further damage the global economy.
7. “Aren’t you a little too old to be playing video games?”
~ The average gamer is 31 years old, but that doesn’t mean the expiry date for gaming life by law should be 31 years of age. Whether or not the person wants to continue playing video games is entirely up to them, NOBODY ELSE.
8. “Put your controller and hit the gym, you pig!”
~ Not every gamer is suffering from obesity, you know. And we do know that physical fitness is essential to our health, so we eat just as healthy and exercise just as much as the average person.
9. “Do you even have a job yet?”
~ Please refer to the third item on this list.
10. “Female characters in video games are often treated as sex objects.”
~ While that may have been true in the industry’s infancy, the current generation of male gamers don’t necessarily see the female characters, playable or otherwise, as sexual objectifications.