Brendan Drain over on Massively struck a very strong cord with me in his opinion piece, On your deathbed, you will not regret gaming. I agree with everything he says about gaming. World culture is changing. The young and the young at heart see this. They participate in it gladly. It is only those entrenched in the 20th Century that do not see the good in this.
I currently have a 94 year old woman living in my house who is incapable of understanding what I do upstairs for all those hours. I know this from our conversations about it.
She asks, "did you have fun playing your game?"
I reply, "Yeah, me and the guys just evicted a Russian corp from it's wormhole."
"What guys?" she asks.
"Me and my alliance mates."
"Are they here in town?"
"No, they are all over the world though most of them seem to be on the East Coast."
Then she looks over at the phone. I know what's going through her head. It didn't ring. It wasn't busy. "I talk with them using my computer," I say.
"How many guys do you play with?" she asks.
"There were about thirty of us tonight, though thousands play the game at the same time."
"Thousands?" she asks incredulous.
"Tens of thousands from all over the world," I confirm.
"All at the same time? How do you understand each other?"
I'm certain you see what I am getting at by now. This conversation didn't actually happen precisely this way. It's an amalgamation of several conversations we've had. But all those things were said at one point or another over the past weeks.
And my game playing isn't the only thing she doesn't grok. My refusal of the newspaper every day causes consternation too. It seems in her world I'm being rude for not accepting the offer of a shared newspaper. She grasps I have access to more news through my computer upstairs, and even my phone, than anything landing on the porch. She just doesn't understand why I don't want to reinforce our social bonds with a shared newspaper. I've refrained, so far, from inviting her to try Eve Online. I understand it isn't her cup of tea, and I'd find no offense in her refusal. I'm afraid the same thing cannot be said about the newspaper.
And this is where we get to the cord Brendan struck with me. The one I can't get out of my head. People like Mike Foster, whose article Brendan based his on, and even the 94 year old, frankly irritate me. They are very quick to judge something they do not understand simply because they cannot grasp the nature of it. When I point this out (not to the 94 year old, I'm not that cruel,) I am quickly labeled arrogant or elitist. Those terms are self-worth's last refuge for those who cannot understand my point of view. They would rather dismiss me than understand me. Understanding me and acknowledging my social activities are good ones evidently endangers their world view - and therefore their self-esteem in some strange way.
This is at least what I've come to believe, though it is cynical as hell and deep inside I know it does not reflect well upon me as a person. But I've accepted as much as I'm willing to from these people. I am no stranger to this sort of labeling and there is a long history involved. As a teenager and young adult, I was labeled as weird and possibly damaged socially because I played that demonic Dungeons and Dragons game. The people who so judged me never realized my playing that game with my friends met the same social need they craved to have filled by going to church every Sunday. My weekly sessions were no different than theirs, just my tomes were not nearly as ancient as theirs.
This is how I think it is with the age of computer based entertainment. I seldom go to bars any more to drink beer and yell at the stupid referees on the big screens. I now take my beers upstairs, log into Mumble and bitch about The Mittani. I now have a different social meeting place. One that doesn't have a maximum occupancy sign, and that makes my social development suspect in many people's minds. There must be something wrong with me because I'm not like them... because I don't want to be like them.
It's not my fault they can't accept the fact the Internet is to me what the sports bar is to them. Or that my congregation is the world. I will not go to my grave regretting any of the time I've spent online. It's where I belong. Perhaps the only thing I'll regret is not being able to talk the rest of my friends into joining me. This regret will not be for me though. It will be for them. They'll never know the depth of friendships I've made, or the fun I've had being part of something larger than any religion, nation, economic caste or outdated mindset.