It had to happen. After all, it was only a matter of time.
This is the sad lament of someone’s subculture becoming even more dorky than its original conception.
Yes, I’m talking about gamers.
And by “gamers”, I’m encompassing the entire spectrum of geekery – from rolling mitt-fulls of dice, in darkened basements, to making 14-year-olds scream at their monitors while playing World of Warcraft.
Let me first say that I’m even uncomfortable in using the term “subculture” as that has implications of coolness, which gamers are certainly not.
My path to “dorkdom” began in 1981 when my next-door neighbour, Jason Dicks, got Pong.
I lived in the middle of nowhere, a half-hour outside of Ottawa. Needless to say, the depths of my bucolic-fuelled boredom were unfathomable; that is, until my eyes gazed upon the glory of that black-and-white masterpiece.
I immediately had two thoughts.
The first: Holy Spider-Man! This is Laser Tennis!
The second: I’ll never have to go outside again!
It was pretty much downhill from that point; the gaming seeds of my future utterly sown.
(On a “It’s a small world” note … a couple of years later, Jason moved to Faro.)
Making the choice to be a geek, especially growing up in the ’80s, was an automatic stamp of social blacklisting. We kept to the shadows, partly out of fear of de-pantsing, but also because that’s where we were comfortable.
Being left alone to our own devices is exactly what we wanted.
Then something happened in the ’90s. Geeks started walking around wearing trench coats and cowboy hats, affecting weird neo-Goth looks. This was some strange, honest attempt at showing people that geeks were counterculture – and even cool.
This delusional period was a sad time, as many geeks chose to assume an air of superiority over non-gamers. I love flipping through rule books, as much as the next dork, but having a vast knowledge of gaming arcane vagaries does not make one cool.
I lament this trend as a loss of pure gamer-ism. I used to roll dice in dingy community centres – not for the notoriety – for the games themselves. I never cared about where my rung fit on the social ladder; I had dungeons to crawl and levels to gain.
It’s like folks who complain about people playing hours and hours of Guitar Hero when they could spend those hours actually learning how to play a real guitar. But if we really wanted to learn useful skills, we wouldn’t be gamers in the first place.
Now, with the proliferation of gaming consoles, everyone in the world can get their geek on, thankfully diluting this sense of counterculture one-upmanship that some nerds have.
I guess I’m just a little sad that we gamers strayed from our place on the periphery of society in an attempt to become a part of modern culture. Taking time in the morning to choose just the right T-shirt, with the best ironic slogan for the day, is counterproductive.
We were never meant to be cool, and I think I preferred it that way.
Trust me, the chance of wedgies drops substantially when you’re effectively invisible.
Hmm … I think I might be a grumpy old gamer.
Ah, well, off to play some Fallout 3. I have a nuclear wasteland to save.