I Can't Believe It's Not Gaming!

Pat Miller | 8 Nov 2005 07:00
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The first time my girlfriend walked into my dorm room, almost two years ago, she sized up the place as only a socially active, dating female could. Unmade bed, dirty clothes and old assignments scattered all over the floor, cartoon and movie posters thrown haphazardly along the walls, a veritable rat's nest of wires on the desk where the computer was ... check, check, check.

But there, sitting in the middle of the room next to my PlayStation 2, was the single biggest risk to my dating gambit: namely, my massive MAS Systems arcade stick. Weighing in at probably around five pounds of pure phallic hardware, the stick had the unnatural ability to demand the attention of anyone and everyone it encountered, regardless of race, gender, creed or any of that fun stuff. I knew, as any savvy gaming male ought to know, the presence of the stick alone could be enough to remove me from the pool of date-able males, and relegate me solidly into the Friend Zone, regardless of how suave and seductive I might have been on the night that I met her.

I will spare you the details of the encounter, dear Reader; suffice to say that my years of Street Fighter worked their delicate back-and-forth magic, and we're still together.

All three of us.

But ponder my desperate struggle to reconcile my gaming habit with my women habit; no doubt many young gamers reading this can identify with the need to conceal our uncool habit when around members of the fairer sex. So why is it that when my girlfriend enters the room, she eyes my beloved MAS Systems arcade stick with unadulterated dear-god-what-am-I-getting-myself-into suspicion, but when two adorable girls from Osaka named Maki and Mayo come into my room, they squeal in joy and button mash their way through Street Fighter: Anniversary Edition, all while yelling the names of Ryu's special moves out? Ask yourself this, dear Reader, perhaps during your daily meditation, perhaps in a moment of vulnerable soul-searching weakness, or at 3:30a.m. amid a pile of empty Starbucks cups and unsettled bedsheets. As it turns out, one only need watch a few Japanese girls play Katamari Damacy and chatter to each other (providing running commentary, as it were) to begin formulating an answer.

About a week ago, I asked a few friends of mine whether they called themselves "gamers" or not; predictably, some did and some didn't. When I asked instead if they identified as "movie-watchers," the reaction was substantially different; while all of them agreed that they watched movies for recreation, they generally felt as though it was a fairly trivial way of identifying oneself, as though saying "I watch movies," was about as unique as "I eat," or "I breathe oxygen." Which is to say, movies are ubiquitous, and games - though no doubt the "non-gamers" had played a few games of Solitaire or Snake - are decidedly less so. "Well, that's different," they tell me, "That's not really gaming."

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