My partner and I are both play video games. It’s one of the things that brought us together and what some people assume will tear us apart. No–not talking about Mario Kart (but it is something we’ve decided not to play together. We’re not at that point of our relationship. Yet.) but the fact that we have different levels of involvement.
We’re living in a time where mainstream media is now rewarding and even encouraging counter-culture. Video games are more accepted as a past-time, as are comic books and even board/card/table top games. These forms of recreation are being made “acceptable” by the non-marginalized audiences because of the distinction of “high” versus “low” art. You see this in literature and cinema a lot.
Gore Vidal. J.K. Rowling. Danielle Steele.
Vidal: High Art. Seen as intellectual. “acceptable” to read.
Rowling: More for the mainstream audiences. Well written and has subversive/intellectual material disguised as entertainment.
Stelle: the “Guilty pleasure” the “low” art that does well commercially.
Why the distinction? Shouldn’t all things be judged on merit? Well, yes and no. It depends on the audience. Will an audience that is actively seeking intellectual stimulation going to read Stelle? Maybe. But it would like someone who wants to watch the GOP debates instead tuning in to watch Roseanne.
This allegory will make sense when I talk about the difference between partner and myself.
I am a “casual” gamer. When I tell people I play video games (I don’t even call myself a gamer) they envision me sitting at home in my underwear marathoning games surrounded by cans of energy drinks. I give off this vibe because I talk about games and game-centered learning. I talk about game culture, game communities and I’m always on the eye out for the newest game.
This is what they think when I tell people I teach a Games Studies course
However, I’m a casual video game player. I play for about an hour or two a week, sometimes more if I don’t have anything going on–and usually it’s the same game: Mario Party, Smash Bros, or Skyrim.
My partner is a more aggressive gamer. He’s the one who can sit and marathon games on end. Current obsessions: Dark Souls 2 and Destiny. Sometimes I have to remind him to take a break or to move from the couch. I’ll get up and get some water, go for a walk and he’ll be in the same spot still playing.
This works out for us. You see, I’m an observer. I’m more of a theoretical person (despite having a love/hate relationship with theory). I see things and take in a lot of the details. He’s more of an applications based person. He loves to be the one doing things. This is not to say we don’t game together. We play Smash Bros. a lot. We’ve recently cleared level 7 on classic mode (using R.O.B. and Duck Hunt) on Hard Difficulty.
I’m getting a PS4 soon so we can play Elder Scrolls together and so we can play FF14 with his sister and her fiancé. We do it as a bonding activity but it’s just a hobby for me and something I can talk about in terms of the classroom (because it’s easier for most of my students to understand because they have a level of understanding of games), but for him, it’s a passion.
I enjoy cooking. I love it. I cook when I can. But am I going to open a restaurant? Am I going to go for a Michelin star? Am I going to take down Gordon Ramsay?
In a word: No.
And I don’t need to. I’m happy at the level of game interaction I’m at right now (just wait until Person 5 comes out then I might step up my game). And my partner? He’s happy with the level of gameplay where he’s at. We’re able to share in this together but we aren’t all up in each other’s grills about it.
I can read about game theory and the relationship between gamers while he can report back to me what total racist/homophobic/sexist bullshit he’s heard on the headset when with people.
We work as a team–and it’s why even though he’s on headset talking to people and it seems that he’d rather spend time with them and game while I work, I’m ok with it because this is what we do and how we operate. I’ll solitarily game on my 3DS leveling up my pokemon and come back and rest my head with him as he has to hear about another person claiming to fuck his mom because of an error made in game.