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Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday Mumbles: An Open Letter to Millennial Gamers

I need your opinion. I have to know if it's just my cynical nature, or are my feelings on a certain matter spot on? Let's see if I can make how I'm feeling a little more clear. When it comes to making bouillon from my emotions the broth is always a bit cloudy. How's that for an odd metaphor? Anyone get it? Never mind, let's push on. I need to go back to my youth so please stay with me.

I started gaming when I was a teenager back in the late 70s. Wait, that's not right. I started gaming in the mid 70s but it was all tabletop stuff like Dungeons and Dragons. I didn't start with the video games until I was in high school and actually had a little money from time to time. See, back then you didn't play if you didn't have a quarter. Understand? But fortunately that all changed quickly in the early 80s. It started on a teletype terminal in the high school library, and then it was a TRS 80 in the math teacher's room. At university the computer club had the Apple II and Apple IIe computers to play on WITH COLOR MONITORS. O.O And so on and so forth. I've told you all this before. I really don't need to repeat it. Let's just say I've been gaming a really long time. Longer than millennials have been alive. I know. I sired one in 89.

Now, before the birth of my millennial in 89, most of society looked at my favorite hobby as weird if not outright psychologically corrupt. Before the millennials came of age, the first true video game generation, nerd and geek were super derogatory. It's the sort of thing the bullies called you as they kicked the shit out of you after school. Now, I was on the football team so that never personally happened to me, but I've had to throw myself into fights where one of my geeky nerd friends were about to get the shit kicked out of them. In the high school I was in, that was a real concern from some of the other inmates. Of course I never felt like an inmate. I love learning. It's how I got my full ride "scholarship." But those who called us names and beat us up were inmates. They didn't want to be there any more than a felon wants to be in club fed.

So there I was, the constant outsider in society where I didn't really fit in with the beer swilling football watching Cro-Magnons. I was a beer swilling game playing different minority species never fully accepted and always suspected. I had a small group of people who understood me, and I them, but otherwise we felt pretty damn ostracised. Hell, I remember in the early 90s the commander of 2nd Armored Division (Forward) signed an order forbidding the playing of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons in any Army facility run by 2nd Armored Division because it could lead to bad things, like murder. Seriously. He thought the game would unhinge young soldiers and dependants and cause them to become homicidal maniacs. That's how people viewed gamers when I was the age millennials are now.

That all changed with our children though. eSport is a thing today. People make a living gaming whether it's tournament play or YouTube. Gaming can even get you into college. Nerd and geek are proudly worn, and correct me if I'm wrong, but kids aren't beaten up at school for being nerdy or geeky nearly as often as when I was young. Of course the nerds can get guns and shoot the bullies, but that's a different social issue and not part of this mumble. My point is, gaming and gamers are more accepted in today's society than ever before. It's no longer the stigma it used to be, especially with the millennials. DFTBA and all that!

You'd think that I'd be in paradise now, wouldn't you? The fact of the matter is, I feel just as ostracised now as ever before. Those of my age who used to look down at me for not watching sports, and preferring a good League of Legends tournament instead, still look down their noses at me and consider me weird - though I must say they no longer consider me psychologically suspect. I'm still a weirdo to them with a very small group of like minded people my own age who like doing the things I do.

"But what about all those millennials out there who have embraced doing what you love to do Mabrick?" Are you kidding? The vast majority of them look at me like I'm their old man, because I AM their old man... in age at least. They don't want to hang around with me or associate with me. I'm like their parent's friends, those people who millennials had to be nice to on football Sundays and thought of them as weird. I know how tough that sort of scorn can be. I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH THOSE ASSHATS. Many of them were the same bullies who would rather kick the shit out of a nerd like me than talk to me. So millennials go out of their way not to socialize with their parent's generation. Even if we're gamers too. And I notice this. A lot.

Now here comes the whine. I went and saw Deadpool yesterday. (It rocked! Highly recommend.) But I saw in that theater a dichotomy between my generation and the millennials. They were not mixing. Not even a little. It was a Sunday matinee so not even half the seats were taken and the two ages just wouldn't sit near each other. I of course blame the millennials for that because the older people like me all got there early. Seriously. We did. 

I've also read lots of things about this Deadpool movie too. How it's a millennial thing. How all the actors are millennials and they just "so get the millennials." It's such a "big hit with the millennials." How the movie captures a part of the millennial psyche that us older people just don't understand.

Because no parent has ever understood what their kid goes through and how hard life is. Right. If you're a parent with a kid of a certain age you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

But guess what millennials, Deadpool first made his appearance in 1991. Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza are MY generation. They're Gen X. They invented Deadpool. It's a product from my sort of childhood angst, not yours. It captures what I felt while growing up the ostracised "other." It speaks to my thoughts on how society didn't understand me and made me feel less for it when all I wanted was to be accepted.

And this informs me about gamers in an odd and perhaps convoluted way. We are not so different as you think Mister and Misses Millennial - us Gen X types and you. At least not us oldsters who called ourselves nerd or geek back when it'd get you a wedgie for sure and possibly a loose tooth. Back before the Internet, and Smartphones, and YouTube, and Grand Theft Auto. So the next time you run into a gamer whose just a little too old to be what you think of as a gamer, just remember who really brought about the gaming revolution, and gave you Deadpool too. It was us - Gen X - and we're not too old to game. Get to know us a little. You'd be surprised how cool we can be. And don't even think what I know you just thought about the word I just used. Gaming is cool. It's not dope. It's not hype. It's cool. But I'm okay with those other words too, if you are with mine. Get it champs?

To the Gen X gamers reading this, does this make any sense? Am I totally off my rocker, or do you have similar feelings? I'm curious to know, so leave me a comment if you would. Thank you.

2 comments:

  1. Genx myself. However i am not as excluded from my son and his peers as i was from my father.

    That i was first to understand the rules of settlers of catan kinda helped.

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  2. Damn, Mark.... I know what you mean; I am neihter and I'm both. To old for a millenial and too young for gen X. I'm from 78 myself and was a nerd back then. just too young to really get a grasp of the marvel comics some older friends read. But I did see the maturing of the coputer industry and was one of the first teenager that used inet for fun when a 28k modem was topnotch. Did end up with a millennial for a partner in the end, so always was a bit of a bridge...

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