Cab Driver - Customer, The Fourth
So, you want to know how a cabbie like me can afford to go on some business-training course with self-assessment forms at the end? Sorry pal, I'm doing something worthwhile with my time. Gaming! Sure, gamers obsess about the experience they have accrued, but how many of you believe their games enhance their lives? Consider the origins of playing. Animals learn life skills by playing. What did you learn by playing Diablo?
In which our hero finds how the roots of gaming lie in self-improvement and ponders how it contrasts with gaming's poor self-image...
So, where to? Community centre eh? Self-improvement kick hey? Me too! How is it? Well, there's a lot of stuff, computer work, creative arts, role-playing, even stuff useful in real-life: like improving basic numeracy, organisation and problem solving. If you go further, there's game theory, leadership, presentation skills, psychology, social dynamics, and team building.
Yeah, sounds intense. Fun though. So, you want to know how a cabbie like me can afford to go on some business-training course with self-assessment forms at the end? Sorry pal, I'm doing something worthwhile with my time. Gaming! Sure, gamers obsess about the experience they have accrued, but how many of you believe their games enhance their lives? Consider the origins of playing. Animals learn life skills by playing. What did you learn by playing Diablo?
Before you pack away your PC to get suits and MBAs or load up on history textbooks for your next White Wolf game, remember all work and no play makes Jacqueline a dull girl. Fun, after all, is the objective. If you aren't having fun gaming, it's either due to too much, or doing it wrong altogether. Learning is pretty much the same way - whilst rote learning can hurt your head, learning in fun ways enriches the educational experience. Do too much and you burn out.
Get this: businessmen use role-playing as a learning tool. Admittedly, they don't crank up the Gladiator soundtrack and roll d20s but they do put themselves in other people's shoes to gain an insight into other peoples' motivations. They are also given logic problems, present scenarios to their peers for consideration and organise regular group meetings for mutual profit. Sound familiar?
So if the animals are doing it and even the suits have caught onto it, tell me why those who are probably the most qualified people to be able to expound on the benefits of gaming are not reaping the benefits of all this play? Have we done far too much? Or are we doing it all wrong? Whilst I do suspect these two factors play a part in why the gamers haven't taken over yet, I also suspect there is a third issue behind the scenes... or in your face - it generally depends on whom you talk to.
Are you proud to be a gamer? Gaming as a life-enriching experience, a radical concept from a group accused of being anti-social, ageist, amoral, bigoted, boring, cheap-ass, deviant, egotistic, elitist, freakish, geekish, insane, immature, moronic, neurotic, plagiarist, Satanist, sexist, spendthrift, thieving, unhygienic and just plain weird. All of which are adjectives I've heard gamers use to describe each other and themselves at events.
What a self-image! After decades of the kind of insecurity-induced programming employed by the popular kids, we believe the hype and play to the stereotype. We obsess at negative attributes - no wonder gaming is perceived to be in decline -who wants to be with a bunch of neurotic whiners? It doesn't help when the gaming industry fosters stereotypes. Events with facilities rivalling those at outdoor rock festivals and discourage personal hygiene. Products which can't be seen (let alone discussed) in public as their contents alienate some readers or casual viewers? Companies which threaten their own customers for wanting to make web sites in homage to their products?
Gaming is a social hobby, isn't it? Then why are we so antisocial about it? Are we all just Eliza Doolittles in need of a bit of polish or is there a deeper motive behind the social labels stuck on gamers? Are we being driven to obsession, and in doing so, forgetting the most important reason to play: to grow as people? Or, could it be being negative about what we do is so much easier for us. Bad news makes for good copy, as the journalists say, and if you want to get someone's attention, then let's be sensationalist and engage in tabloid thinking: daub the cover in sexy, scantily clad figures and promise enough sex and violence to glut even a rabid fan of late-night U.S. talk shows. Let's sneer at those who aren't just like us, and whatever you do, make sure you push your brand. Hmmm. Any of this sound familiar?
So how do we stop the rot? How do we get more people into gaming? By being people we would like to game with. By playing and learning life skills we can apply to the real world. By being open to new experiences (and what gamer isn't, at heart, open to new experiences?) and daring to try something a little different. Oh, and having fun. Lots of fun. The kind of fun that makes you proud to be who you are.
You don't have to do this of course, but it sure beats the alternative. No fun. Not learning or growing from the experience. Being someone you wouldn't want to game with and being ashamed of what you do to pass the time. No fun remember! You're here now. You've still got a bit of time. Have a good night tonight and yeah, maybe see you next time, OK?