Gaming: The Antisocial Hobby

antisocial

If we were to take what the general media say as gospel about computer games, then we’d all be goths and emos with an unhealthy fascination with guns, death and grievous bodily harm. The fear of games and the incentives they carry has been around since their creation and as all parents “know”, their children are unable to make informed choices, are easily influenced by anything as long as it’s on a TV screen of some kind and are generally pretty dumb. At least that’s the message I get from the majority of parents when they’re asked about computer games and their kids. In the mid 80’s and 90’s the biggest complaint a parent could have about their child playing games was how “antisocial” they were. While it’s true that a lot of my childhood was spent in a dark bedroom figuring out pokes for games (if you think I’m being dirty, ask a gamer over 30), perfecting SF2 moves or finding all the warp pipes in Mario, there was a fair amount of time spent round at friends’ houses swapping games, playing against each other, or helping each other with difficult bits. Going further back in my life, the arcades were always a place of vibrant chitter-chatter and were abundant with people of varying ages, though we (me and my friends) always stuck around each other and kind of swarmed about different arcades like manic bees full of sugar, we met loads of other kids near our ages too. The idea of games being an antisocial thing was so far from my mind at that stage I’d have laughed right in your face if you even suggested such a notion to me.

Arcades

How the arcades should be

With all that said however, there was the 90’s. When games started to get bigger and more involving than just a simple display of button memory skill, a new breed of gamers began to emerge. When games like Zelda and Final Fantasy really got into their stride, gamers (though the term ‘Gamer’ wasn’t even really coined back then) began to find true fascination in these massive, new virtual playgrounds they had been given the gate keys to. The truth is though, that the whole world had become obsessed with the idea of living with virtual reality and what computers were now capable of doing for us. TV shows and films depicting VR began to spring up everywhere, things like The Lawnmower Man and the Matrix made us believe that VR was a thing to be feared (yet undeniably cool) while TV shows such as Cyberworld or Knightmare and to some extent GamesMaster, showed us that there was a lot of fun to be had with it.

GamesMaster

"With this new telescope, I can see up alien's bottoms" said Patrick Moore; probably

Yet still the dreary teenager sat alone (as he always has) playing with his joystick in a dark room away from prying eyes. It would be fairly safe to say that it was the 90’s that singlehandedly cattle branded gaming as a solitary and selfish fulfilment, but just around the corner online multiplayer lay in wait.

90's Gaming

The question is, WHAT IS THAT MAN PLAYING WITH???

By the time the space year 2000 arrived we (gamers) had become connected and in doing so, it quickly became the most social hobby available. If you know anyone that scoffs at you because you’re into gaming just ask them if they’re on Facebook/Myspace/Twitter and if they deny that then ask them if they’ve ever sent a text message, because all of these are lesser versions of how gamers communicate with each other all the time (only we do it with a bit more sophistication). If they tell you they’ve never sent a text then you might as well be talking to an antique vase.

Connected World

Our Connected World

Gaming has connected so many people across the globe that I’d dare say it’s responsible for thousands (if not millions) of friendships, relationships and even marriages. It’s one of the fastest moving industries today and makes a considerable amount more money than the behemoth that is the film industry. From things like Second Life and PSN Home to games like LittleBigPlanet, ModNation Racers and Spore (let’s not forget the massive PC modding community) it can bring out the imaginative side of us and makes us want to share our creations with each other, though it can bring out the ugly side of humanity (I’m looking at you, racist foul-mouthed online T-Baggers) but most of all; it enriches us, keeping us together having fun. Sure, it was harder to admit you were a gamer in the 80’s and meeting those of the same frame of mind was difficult, and we had a little hiccup with our more solitary bedroom antics of the 90’s, but now look at us all! Have we not become a deeply entwined worldwide community of individuals that get together just to be in each other’s company? I for one can’t wait to see what this gaming empire will bring to the social side of humanity in the future.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He's what we now refer to as "Old Skool" because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he's sure VR can't be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

3 comments

  1. half_empty80 /

    Sidestep, sidestep, …. run, run, RUUUUUUUUUUN! Stop!

    Knightmare. Brilliant.

  2. I agree, but I’m going to play a kind of devil’s advocate. You’ve left out the physical social aspects of things like Guitar Hero, SingStar and the foundations upon which the Wii is built. The fact that LAN parties – that most geeky of social occasions – have given way to popular gatherings where people sing, or strum or wave their arms about in an amusing fashion in front of a screen that are not only widespread, but socially and culturally encouraged as a means of family bonding is arguably far more important.

    • Krazyface /

      Too true Matt, there is also that side of what gaming has brought to family’s and social gatherings. I’ve never had a Lan Party before, but I sure as hell would love to host one! I think because of the Wiis simple controls and family freindly apperance, there has been a massive explosion in social/family gaming, which is what Sony and Microsoft are trying to break into now with Move and Kinect.

      I think “too little, too late” says the 360 and PS3 have missed out one a huge portion of that demographic but, they will probably still pull in another few million “casual” users if they implement these technologys with a bit of imagination. MS could make A LOT of money with Kinect if they took the Milo idea and implemented it as a personal assisstant for the home and menu screens. Sorry, getting off topic!!!

Leave a Reply