Friday, August 30, 2013

"You Know Nothing, Jon Snow"

If Jonnie boy had reacted to Ygritte the way that some people reacted to my last blog post, she'd be in a ditch somewhere. You'd think I assaulted someone's mom and peed in their Cheerios.

Somewhere within the haze of oxygen deprivation from airline cabin air (and being a mile above sea level at the airport), airport beer, being kind of ranty in general because of that and other factors, and slipping into an an alter-ego-esque tone that I sometimes adopt when writing I came across as very, very douchey. Condescending and "fun limiting" were some terms used. I'll cop to that - it was over the top and abrasive when what I was shooting more for was, I don't know, amusing? Granted, I've written similar things before and hit a nerve so I didn't think it would be much different.

But I do think that the discussion about how occasionally gamers go beyond just saying, "Games are fun, they enrich my life" and head for "Gamers are better at everything" is a valid one. Because, honestly, many of us have justified our gaming by saying how it makes us better at solving problems or math or social situations. There is a minority - yes, a small one, but I still have run into them - that take it beyond that to assert the mere fact they're a gamer makes them better than the "mundanes" or the "sheep". This isn't a phenomenon limited to gaming either - it exists across all stripes of alternative subcultures and generally my response is "Piss the fuck off.". Typically this attitude leads to all manner of judgmental douchebaggery, including the particularly abhorrent practice (to me) of "freaking the mundanes".

How about fucking "people"?

Combine a knee-jerk reaction to the implication that gamers are not "mundanes" with a muddied message (mixed up with the completely separate issue of whether gaming skills can be translated to real skills) and a post that was not written in the comfort of my easy chair, while smoking my pipe and playing classical music so I could be erudite and wise, and I get a shitstorm of a post. Is it right? Nope, not at all. Does it make me come across as a judgmental douchebag? I'd guess the answer to that is, "Yes."

So I'll happily retract the position that gaming hasn't taught people useful things and clarify: gaming has helped people learn useful things. It's not inherent to the gaming though - I still firmly believe it has more to do with the person themselves. Using gaming to help get over, say, social anxiety, isn't a one-size fits all solution. I will stand by my position that one shouldn't reach for ways to fold gaming into more practical situations. When I say "reach" that's exactly what I mean - if you have to struggle to connect the dots between gaming and a "life skill", it's likely that the gaming hasn't helped you that much. If it is painfully obvious that running the local gaming club has made you fantastic at wrangling groups of people, managing schedules, etc. than by all means run with that.