For me, gaming started on the PC. I know, most of you started with Pong or some ridiculous machine, but really… those games were terrible. Command and Conquer, Myst, Kings Quest, and The Ultima series were my stepping-stones. Regardless of your gaming origin story, we all shared one common experience. Gaming wasn’t the first hobby you would mention when you were talking to a girl you liked or listed on a job resume. In other words, you were a nerd and that was un-cool! When I was in school, gaming meant you most likely wallowed in pizza boxes, had an unrelenting battle with acne, and might have murdered the neighbor’s cat.
Recently, however, there has been a disturbance in The Force. I don’t know if it was World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, the Wii, or Jet Chemtrails that started it all, but gaming is obviously becoming mainstream. This should be great news! After all, this is one less hobby I must perform in the darkest corners of my home with a tub of mayonnaise nearby. But don’t throw out your condiments yet; I am unsure whether this “mainstreaming” of the genre is simply people becoming accepting or a fault line opening up within the industry. Some games growing up were always “less nerdy”, while other games “the jocks” would play (That’s right, I’m looking at you Madden and Goldeneye!). Would ultra-polished games like Call of Duty, party systems like the Wii, or activity related peripherals like the Kinect be “un-cool” when I was in high school? I can’t say, my DeLorean is still in the shop. What I do know is that today I would have very little reservation mentioning to a stranger I played CoDBlOps last night, but I would still hold back asking them whether I should go with the weapons or lightsaber class in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
I know, I am an adult now and all this shouldn’t matter; but this is something that fascinates me. Is gaming culture becoming accepted, or have game developers learned how to craft their games and market them in a way so they aren’t perceived is such a negative light? After all, I don’t recall being excited for many games in the past being advertised with an Eminem song. I feel like games are becoming the Olympics and my favorite game is Curling.
It’s funny. Seeing young people excited about games is really refreshing. When even the “high school elite” are gamers it tells me one thing… games have just gotten that good.
Games are good. But at the same time I can relate to this. I’d have a hard time talking about the merits of Omikron: The Nomad Soul in public or trying to explain how Orb 3D was one of my most played NES games to a kid who grew up with PS2.