I think I’ve started to come to terms with a false assumption I’ve held for some time now. That is: everybody plays games for the same reason that I do. I’ve always conceded that all people have different play-styles, but I think I’ve taken for granted that different people approach the hobby of gaming very differently. Participating in the NBI this year has really opened my eyes to some of the reasons gamers don’t see eye-to-eye on things such as game direction or importance of various systems and mechanics.
My own reasons for playing center mostly around having fun and decompressing after a long day. My reasons for blogging come more from a desire to create and converse, using one of the few forms of creativity with which I am gifted. What I’m seeing, however, is that others have far more serious reasons for participating in both of these activities. Having fun and creating are at the root of it, but why the need to have fun? Why the need to create? What is driving folks to these forms of coping and expression in the first place?
What I’m finding is that the reasons and motivations are as varied as the individuals. Though several NBIers have given public accounts of their backgrounds and struggles, I am not comfortable bringing up names or even providing links to those posts. Suffice it to say, the NBI is filled with a wonderfully diverse set of amazingly talented and courageous people. People who were raised dirt poor, and have persevered in life despite a disadvantaged upbringing. People who suffered at the hands of or were neglected by family members as children. People who were born with fewer than five physical senses. People with extreme anxiety, who struggle to even participate in a support group because of…well, anxiety. People who have recently experienced or are experiencing a grave illness in a close family member. People who’s lives could have taken a completely different path had it not been for one or two minor decisions.
As I step back and observe the cross-section of the NBI, I can’t help but be utterly in awe of both the courage and generosity that is on display. Also, my poor assumption becomes all the more clear. Where I see “just a game”, and perhaps a means to exercise my anti-social social needs, others see a true escape, or in the case of blogs, a form of therapy. It’s similar to my decompression and desire to create, but magnified by the intense life experiences of the individual. Those involved come to depend on games and blogging as a means to cope with things with which I have no experience. Thus, it truly does become more than “just a game” to them.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how I might disagree with somebody about the importance of a game. A large update that I may shrug off could be a major source of angst for somebody who depends on the game to get through the week. A change to the in-game social mechanics could be a minor annoyance to me, but a major problem for someone who needs to communicate with guild-mates for their own social well-being. These are things that I will keep in mind as I converse with fellow gamers in the future. Likewise, I hope my own situation will be taken into consideration, as well. I have a family that includes a wife and 4 children, a full-time job, a house, volunteer obligations, and a dog. My occasional flippancy towards the games that I enjoy is more a commentary on how much more important other things in my life are to me, and not a slight against somebody else’s passion.
We all enjoy these games, but to different degrees and for different reasons. In my mind, it’s pretty cool that we can come together as one community despite the differences.
#NBI #Coping #Community
Featured image by RocaSalvatella on Flickr Creative Commons