Perhaps there is some hesitance to peg us down - we may prefer the limitless plasticity of youth to the funereal obligations of age, summed up by the certainty of death and taxes. But I don't see it that way. Adulthood also means authority and independence. It means there's a whole world out there, a thousand times bigger and brighter than a dorm room or a basement apartment. If we're married to this age metaphor, and we're hard pressed to anthropomorphize our pastime, let us be honest. Gaming is adult.

image

What does that mean? Certainly not that you have to be an adult to play games, or even that games are "really" for adults, like some Trix Cereal in Bizarro World. It doesn't mean that there's nowhere left for games to go, or that the medium, as a whole, traded its ripped jeans for a suit and tie and got a job as a low-level office grunt. To my mind, in this context, it means that we're here. It means that we're doing our thing, and it means that we have choices: What games will we make? What games will we play? We get to decide how to take them with us as we grow, and how they will inform our lives. We get that choice. It may be small, but it means something.

On the topic of play, and of age, and of how we grow, I'm often brought back to a simple, silly, and oddly touching comic in Randall Munroe's minimalist strip xkcd. The particular comic is called "Grownups," which to me is a wonderful word, describing adulthood in a play-pretend language of childhood. It's all very simple - a stick figure man drops by on a stick figure woman, and finds she's filled her entire apartment with playpen balls - those same balls that you might have waded through, hip-deep, when you were little. The art is simple as well, but there are visual hints towards the significance of the act: The world of xkcd is mostly of black lines on white paper, but each ball that spills out into the hallway is brightly colored. When asked why she did it, the woman says, "Because we're grown-ups now, and it's our turn to decide what that means."

The strip speaks to adulthood, and how we choose to face it, but I've always taken it as a lesson about games. We see a life, transformed by play, into something wondrous. And though it reminds me, most of all, of the medium of games, I find another word on the tip of my tongue. Another medium, an old one, perhaps the oldest - poetry.

So. Gaming is adult. And it's our turn to decide what that means.

Brendan Main hails from the frosty reaches of Canada, where "Psychoball" is actually pretty tame compared to hockey. When not obsessively checking his bald spot, he blogs at www.kingandrook.com.

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on