This is hardly a new topic of conversation I would imagine. I’d be willing to bet most of the game blogging community has had something to say on the matter at one point in time or another.1 The subject? Feeling like — or perhaps even being told that — you’re too old to game. Or perhaps being told the same thing for any other hobby.
My inspiration for bringing this topic to the fore again being Kim’s recent post on the matter.
A visitor to Kim and Pete’s stream wanted to know how old they were. And whether intended or not, it certainly brought up a number of negative connotations.
And I get it. I’m not the oldest in our community by a longshot, but I am a 30-something (closer to the 40-something end of things now) gamer who has grown up with a certain stigma associated with the hobby of gaming.
Even as a kid there were groups it was OK to talk about the hobby of gaming with, and groups where it was most certainly not. It wasn’t sporty or outdoorsy enough or it was nerdy, or whatever else the perceived issues might be.
But I don’t actually think the root of my concern with the perception of gaming as an adult started there. No, actually, let me rephrase. I’m sure that all played a part, but it isn’t what first springs to mind when I task my mind with contemplating the matter. Instead that sends me down a path of remembrance to the time in my life when I… perhaps played a little too much.
Whether at that point in my life I was truly ‘addicted’ or not, there is no denying that things were out of balance. In my previous post on gaming addiction, I spoke to the impacts on my academic pursuits. But alongside all that, I was also working. Part time. Nothing too strenuous. But even there things were taking a toll. My work ethic was next to nonexistent. I would rather browse the WoW forums and post comments than do what I was hired to do.
Fortunately for my life all around — I eventually made the choice to clean my act up and start prioritising my life a little better.
But at some level, I’ve always associated the identity of being a gamer with that point in my life. Even though I know differently, because I now live it — the stigma and judgement over the gamer identity is something I hold very close to my chest. But… it isn’t a set of values I apply to others. It’s something of a great revelation when I hear another workmate speak of their interest in gaming. But for myself…?
I’ve just never felt comfortable talking about it in the professional environment. Perhaps an acknowledgement of the shared interest with another known gamer. But never would I reveal this whole ‘other’ part of me — this guy who has an internet blog and prefers the collection of hobbies surrounding gaming more than any other hobby.
I’ve talked about this complete separation of self before, and funnily enough the whole conversation of creating an environment where one can feel safe to bring their ‘whole self’ to work is going on again.
But here’s a realisation that has come to me while writing this post… No matter the distance in years between who I was then and who I am now — there is still a fair degree of guilt associated with the time. That and a fear that if I acknowledge my hobby with others outside of the sphere, that the things once true of me… The attributes that defined the time in my life where I allowed gaming to rule over all else… Those will be the things they see or think now.
So while I may not apply this judgement to anyone else — the stigma is perhaps very much one of my own creation.