131: A Day in the Life of the Social Loner

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A Day in the Life of the Social Loner

"My girlfriend gets a call from her brother telling her he won a Wii at a Men's Journal promotional party. She puts me on the phone with her brother, and my excitement overcomes me as I start bombarding him with the best Virtual Console selections, if would he like to borrow Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and how the Wi-Fi was a pain to set up. But I sense I have gone too far; he is just acknowledging my enthusiasm out of politeness, and I rein it back in."

For Tomohiko Endo, videogames are a shame-worthy obsession.

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Some of this is eerily familiar, like you've been spying on me and taking notes. I secretly dread becoming that ex-gamer.

That doesn't feel like some life i want... I hope it never becomes that way and i can still enjoy my singleplayer games.

But really, if some people game casually, they usually multiplayer it out, it seems.

But even then, i dread such a future for myself, i want other people that do got interest in my hobby. However rare, i hope i will meet such humans...

This sounds like a similar path society is trying to force me down as well. It's sadly a familiar road, but I am still trying to fight it. I try to treat it like movies or music and carry it with the same pride but when you get so many mixed reactions it's difficult.

Excellent article regardless

Yeah I can relate, especially when I was growing up and my parents couldn't understand how a smart kid could waste away so many hours on video games. Years later, when I brought my Wii home for Christmas a couple weeks ago, I had about 8 family memebers (uncles, cousins, and my dad), all wanting a turn at it! Though none of them were about to play RE4 or anything, I'd say that the Wii has seriously turned around the definition of "gamer". In the past, you'd hear statistics about how a huge number of average Joe's and Jane's "game", but it was always referring to little Minesweeper and Solitare type games. The Wii has really brought it out into the open. Instead of stolen, bored minutes in the office, its a form of family entertainment.

So, while some games are inherently "loner" games, I think that social, relatively casual games like Wii Sports, Warioware, etc, may give people a brand new perspective on gaming. It'll be really interesting to see if current early teens have anything like this problem as adults.

I talk like a logician. The trick is simple, do not try and convince naysayers, do not plead with them to understand, do not try and "make it relevent". Instead, state what you think as though nobody would seriously doubt it, explain that people love the challenging adventures, interactive storylines, and imaginative escapism. If you do it correctly, you can make naysayers seem stupid for not being able to play videogames. Then make some subtle remark to another popular hobby, such as chanting mindlessly at a football match or something, because we all know how mature, intelligent and grown-up that is.

Note: I like football, but given the choice between the two... well this is a videogame forum, so you can guess where I stand.

chenry:
Some of this is eerily familiar, like you've been spying on me and taking notes. I secretly dread becoming that ex-gamer.

oh god, he found out! RUN!

Yeah, it definitely has something of a time and a place in today's world. Perhaps in a more general way as well.

The article is extremely sad.
It describes a person who feels excluded from social interactions if he acknowledges his hobby, yet it seems as if he himself is the one who does the excluding.
A roommate who asks about the videogame he plays clearly does not feel that videogames is the sole dominion of future Virginia Tech mimic psychos and extreme otaku-level fat, unwashed fans. Yet the person feels the need to excuse himself.

Unwilling to even admit to OWNING A WII AND PLAYING GAMES ASIDE PARTY GAMES, he forces himself (is NOT forced by anyone else, mind you) to hide it behind the TV, like a casual drinker who hides beer in the bathroom because if someone sees it in the fridge, he thinks they'll think he is an alcoholic.

Self-delusion. It runs deep, and it saddens me to an extreme. Do none of his friends have a hobby that he doesn't actually like, but it's okay because frankly he could care less what they do during the days?
Most people are like this. "Oh, you like games. How nice." and that's it. There's no need to hide your gaming habit. You decided that your hobby is a heavy cross chained to your back. Nobody put it there but you.
So just take it off, you idiot. Nobody walks around with actual, physical, heavy crosses on their backs when they don't have to.
So why have you DECIDED that your hobby is one, thus forcing yourself to wear it?

If you ever drink a beer with your friends, you can play games aside Guitar Hero and Wii sports, and let others know about it if they ask.

In short, the point I try to hammer home real heavy here: No, gaming is not a deeply shameful act, unless you make it into one yourself.
Like the previously mentioned beer-drinker, you're hiding your gaming.
Which means that it seems like a problem, while it isn't.

Think about it, if you find that someone hid beers in their bathroom, they look like they have a problem. A six-pack in the fridge? Not so.
If you only play when others aren't looking, pretend that you're not interested in games, hide the games and consoles physically from others...you LOOK like a god-damned freak.
You might not be, but that's sure what it sounds like.

Think about it.

Solidarity, brother. You are not alone.

For someone who is articulate and insightful, you seem overly concerned about social acceptance. Who cares? Social acceptance is reliant upon society. We all know that society is dumb and slow, raised on fast food and tranquilized by major league sports. Revel in your games, and let your detractors be damned!

If your girlfriend loves you, she will be grateful for the things that make you happy. If she doesn't, you are better off alone. Personally, I would be more concerned with E! network playing on my television than Halo 3.

Gamers are no longer a hidden class. We are a vast population who will no longer take a back seat to the sleepwalking fanbases that fantasize about football players. Gamers are at the controls of our own entertainment. We don't sit and expect to be spoon-fed recycles plot points by a Bruckheimer flick. Gamers unlock the adventure for themselves.

Which part of that embarrasses you?

It sounds like you need to experience single life in a place of your own. Once you do this for a year or two you'll begin to realize that you're really a good guy and grow more secure in yourself, since you're not always hiding your hobbies in a self-conscious shame that is undeserved. Attempting to live with someone or carry a serious relationship in the midst of insecurity (even if it's just concerning your hobbies) is a precarious path to take.

Try this for a week: Ignore the shame that you feel whenever you enjoy a favorite hobby (ie. video games) and force yourself to "act like a fool" and play games in front of others.

The only thing that can make playing video games a shameful act is if you're neglecting your responsibilities as an independent adult (ie. work, taking out the garbage, respecting others, etc).

That is no way to play games.
Play them loudly and proudly, if anyone thinks less of you for it then they certainly aren't a friend of yours.

I agree with Propertyofcobra. get off your cross.

Propertyofcobra put this very well. This article seems to be written from the bottom of a pit of dispair. The tone to all of this writing is depressed, and worse, helpless.

My girlfriend and her close circle all play party games like guitar hero. I find them tedious, unimaginative and boring; and I'll say as much to anyone who asks. My favorite game of all time is the original Deus Ex, a game that failed miserably at a grafted on a multiplayer existence. That didn't keep me from talking about it though. That doesn't mean I need to talk to everyone about it, but find someone who can relate with you and talk games with them. There are enough people out there playing solo campaign games for there to be a market for them. Therefore there must be enough of them out there to find someone you can discuss your latest virtual escapade with.

Don't look for the same interest and approval from everyone, that's just asking for rejection. At the same time, expect at least tolerance from those around you. Don't hide the consol, when it's brought up in conversation don't feign ignorance, and get angry when your girlfriend hits the power button! This problem is self inflicted without reason. Find someone you relate with and grow a spine.

... hmm seems to me, that you need to stop putting this idealogy (about gaming in relation to being a nerd, etc etc) on a pedestal. I've noticed significantly times have changed and gaming is a more accepted form of recreation - theres nothing to be ashamed of. Your paranoia has gotten the best of you: who cares what others think, they'll only hound you about it if they know it affects you. I got the casual 'hey man you play 20 hours on the weekend?', and i just either laughed at it or agreed with them (proudly). Don't deny yourself what you truly want just becuase your afraid of what others might say about you (UNLESS THAT SOMETHING IS HURTING OTHER PEOPLE - lol ie psycho killers)

Thanks for writing this, and I'm glad I read it when I did.

You see, you are further along the path that I just realized I was following, of persecuting the same discrimination towards yourself that you are afraid of receiving from others. Yes, average folks don't understand much about our hobby; but the pregnant silence you receive when you get excited about it would be the same if you mentioned you were studying the hygiene habits of the court in tsarist Russia. It is the confusion of the esoteric.

Gaming is hardly the esoteric hobby is once was, but our fear of being 'outed' to non-gamers still keeps us all in the closet, out of view of each other and the popular consciousness (and I use that language deliberately).

Don't let yourself hear, in their silence, the disapproval you no doubt received at some point in your life for your gaming habit-- or perhaps picked up osmosis-like from the ridiculous caricatures of gamers in popular entertainment. Certainly you will start to feel alienated if you won't even reach out to your roommate, who has at least a nascent fascination with gaming. If the hobby is to survive and mature we need to do more than enjoy it privately-- we need to enjoy it publicly. Surely we are all out there (adult gamers, that is), or we wouldn't be on here, reading and posting. There are thousands of working people whose adult livelihood depends on this medium, and they aren't Peter Pans toiling away for the entertainment of children. This is not becoming an adult hobby - it is an adult hobby, and has been one for some time now.

There are plenty of others on this forum who already pointed out that you should enjoy your interests loud and proud whatever they are-- gaming or not-- and judge others by how they judge you. I would like to add that we should be careful to control the recrimination in our own minds, before it well and truly destroys what is clearly an important part of our life, and many other peoples'. Good luck.

I very rarely discuss games out in the real world, mainly because I work with people in the 50's, who really can't discuss games. That in turn really extends to people my own age. I really can't get excited about video games at all, but can play them all day if I didn't have things to do. Friends who I used to talk non-stop about gaming all the time, I don't really talk about gaming with anymore, as we're not in high school/uni anymore. We're moving on with our lives, and talking about games in our social habits is basically going through Halo co-op and having a blast, pissing off the every neighbor in the apartment block because we're laughing so much. Regardless, when it comes to talking to people about games, I can talk a bit about it, but I honestly couldn't care less about the topic when there's more interesting things to talk about.

i think your trying too hard to let games go. your in denial that you dont want/need games anymore. your forcing yourself to give up apart of who you are. what you've become over the years. you will never feel whole until you just accept this into your life. trust me. So what you game, whats the big deal? your girlfriend doesn't care so wheres the problem? You have a passion in life and you shouldnt try to supress it because its akward when you rattle off games that your passionate about. its only akward because you make it that way. People can give you the same look for anything you find as interesting or a hobby. Don't let others make you feel the need to be a in-the-closest gamer. Its kinda sad really. Your not an ex-gamer, your a gamer who is trying to run from his roots. games arent casting you out, your casting yourself out.

DON'T TURN AWAY FROM THE LIGHT!!!!

lol alright im done. i hope you come to your senses. this is a ridclous self torment you have brought upon yourself for no good reason. its almost like you enjoy feeling this way about something you love. its silly. get over it and play your games proudly or don't bother to play them at all!..no thats kinda mean. just...get over it and be proud of what you enjoy. your not alone in the world, look at all of us here. hehe

^_^

I'm part of the Gaming Society at my university, and I've always watched people (dad, brothers) play games.

So apart from when I'm in my room playing something like Oblivion and Assassin's Creed gaming has always been for me very much a social thing.

This article made me very sad, but there is nothing I can really say that others already have not. I agree with partyofcobra and many who are echoing him, even if he was a little harsh in deliberation. I don't know, maybe it's warranted. You are a gamer. You are. The words you wrote, shame aside could have come from any of us here. There is something about games that bubbles upward a rare enjoyment that you have experienced first hand. Yet, you consider it shameful. You consider us all shameful, by that notation. Would you hide me in your closet if I came to visit? Would you shush me at the dinner table if I tried to speak about the latest gaming innovation?

We are not ashamed, and neither should you be. NYC high life or no. The point of life in this day and age is contentment. Happiness. We are past the survival period in most people's case. So do so. Live. Enjoy.

Even if your girlfriend, friends, are ashamed at who you are- are you sure they are your friends if they cannot accept your love for something that truly makes you happy? Man up, as they say. Live your life with your chin up, everyone else be damned. You only get one shot to enjoy life, soak up every last drop of pleasure you can and quit living like the social leper you incorrectly consider yourself to be.

Rykka~

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

chenry:
Some of this is eerily familiar, like you've been spying on me and taking notes. I secretly dread becoming that ex-gamer.

yes yes and yes. i was going to say something to that effect but you pretty much nailed it

God this is all so damn familiar, it's not funny. I'm 20, almost 21 now. I've got a job, I've switched my studies twice so I've been in college for some time now. Although I've always felt old for some reason, games have always sparkled my interest. But slowly I feel I'm to old now to admit I like to play games. They're a waste of time, I should be out studying and working. But every winter in the middle of my yearly winterdepression I'd rather spend my day playing battlefield or civilisation then go out to socialise. There is one person in my life that is still even remotely interested in gaming and I play alot of civ4 with him lately. But my former gaming buddies have all grown up and aren't interested anymore.

It sucks to feel ashamed sometimes to actually still play games and like it. They are accepted more these days, but most people still see it as a mediocre hobby. Thanks for writing the article, I'm glad I'm not the only social loner out there :)

Seems to me, that if you feel ashamed for something you love and that you're afraid of being called a freak or weird or anything that differs from 'normal', you're still stuck in High School. Trying to be cool...

Now that is very far from being Grown-up... I think.

IMHO real coolness comes from being yourself, accepting who you are and being proud of it.
If games are part of you / your life, then be proud!

Playing is one of the main natural reflexes, is it not?
Not only for Humans.

Like it was said before, grow a spine!

If someone doesn't love you for who your really are, than they are hardly worth it.
Trying to be someone else than yourself always fails in the end. Always.

You and Mark Patience should go out drinking sometime, Endo. I think you would have a lot to talk about. Your articles are almost identical at points.

intplee:
I talk like a logician. The trick is simple, do not try and convince naysayers, do not plead with them to understand, do not try and "make it relevent". Instead, state what you think as though nobody would seriously doubt it, explain that people love the challenging adventures, interactive storylines, and imaginative escapism. If you do it correctly, you can make naysayers seem stupid for not being able to play videogames. Then make some subtle remark to another popular hobby, such as chanting mindlessly at a football match or something, because we all know how mature, intelligent and grown-up that is.

Note: I like football, but given the choice between the two... well this is a videogame forum, so you can guess where I stand.

No offense meant (really), but I'm guessing you're (a) well under 30 and (b) have probably never tried this argument on adult peers. This may be the approach you'd want to work, but my personal experience is that it doesn't. Moreover, this approach usually fails in an awkwardly spectacular fashion.

Using the explanation you posted above usually sounds (again, my experience) like window dressing to non-gamers. No amount of diatribe on escapism or imagination works if your audience perceives the topic matter as childish to begin with.

Further, talking with the goal of making the other feel stupid for not participating in your preferred activity (and/or comparing it with established activities that are perceived as more appropriate for adults) just makes you look like an ass. Or at the very least, a hater (again, from personal experience).

that's pathetic. if your friends would actually reject you just because you have an interest they don't share then they are not really your friends. sounds like it's all in your head. if other people don't play games then it's thier loss, just find something else to talk about when you're with them. i hope i'd have the sense to slit my own throat ear to ear before i ever got as self-sonscious as you. no offence.

Very good article, though it sometimes hits a little close to home.

Balancing a 40 hour work week, a social life, a girlfriend and gaming is hard enough without having to worry about bills, rent, your career and the way your relationship is developing.

Pay the rent? Or get that next-gen console you've been wanting to buy? Grind a few levels? Or spend some quality time with your better half? Laugh politely if the boss mentions his teenage kid got a Wii for his birthday? Or have a "deep" discussion about how a Xbox 360 / PS3 would be much better suited for a teenager?

I hate to say it, but in the bigger scheme of things, gaming just isn't that important. You can stick with your guns, but it gets very hard if your peers start buying consoles... For their kids.

I don't have time for grindtastic games, but I don't miss it at all. I never was a fanatical completionist (not a word, dont' care) but I did beat final fantasy 4 like 6 times and FF6 around 4-5. That brought me fun in my younger years where lack of friends couldn't provide. I don't regret it a bit, I hated most of the people in Jr. high, high school. I hate most people nowadays, I don't think I'm alone in this. Being in my position I find that msot people are incredibly shallow and really not worth wasting time with. That's why Brittney Spears can dominate headlines, people are futarded. Either way not wasted time, and I got out of it without a teen pregnancy (I'm male, but eh) being alcoholic, addicted to drugs...whatever...

Games are just fun, they're probably closest to books as entertainment mediums go, both are similarly misunderstood. You can read a book and be normal, you can play a video game and be normal, as long as you don't read TOO much or play games other than Wii Sports and Madden 2K-whatever. Either way I treat it the same way, I play the games I want, I don't worry about the social implications or if x game is more popular that I'll have more people to play with. I usually

So let me guess -- your roommates don't wake up until noon, and watch TV in the afternoon in a stupor, and you feel bad about playing games?

I definitely agree that the problem here isn't your gaming behavior, but your level of self-actualization. I was very surprised when you mentioned you were out of college, because your guilt and hesitance about something you're interested in, and your desire for like-minded folk with which to discuss it, seems very young. There are plenty of friends you can meet to play games with, and while your pal might not be interested in hearing about custom cables or the complete selection of virtual console titles, I think it's too extreme to feel you have to hide your gaming behavior. Gaming is plenty mainstream these days, and zoning out in front of games is understandable by other people just the way zoning out in front of TV shows is, even if they don't share your enthusiasm.

It is sad that you feel you have to hide one of your biggest interests from the people in your live and don't feel permitted to act on it. You shouldn't feel the need to apologize about who you are.

I agree with many of the comments that the author is creating his own hell in some ways.

Still, some of it feels true in others. For those of you who saw the movie "Juno", this is the kind of stuff the husband was going through. It was clear his wife didn't approve of his lifestyle or share his interests at all. His solution was to dump the wife. He realized he needed someone who liked him for him or rather shared his interests as Juno appeared to.

A hip and mature adult life and gaming are not mutually exclusive. WHY do you feel the need to hide your gaming habits like you're some sort of crack-fiend? Has your girlfriend or your roomate or anyone around you given you any reason to feel that you'll be abused and belittled if you dare play a game in front of them? Reading the article, I feel a sense of... painful desperation, of a little voice murmuring "don't hurt me, don't hurt me" all the while through.

Your interests are your interests, and they are just as valid as anyone else's. There is no shame in a few hours of solo gameplay on your own time. Your life sounds fine, all things considered. Productive, full of good things, and fun activities, and nice people... and it would be entirely unimpacted if you looked up from your Halo 3, went "Good morning, honey" when your girlfriend walked in, and tooled around for a few more minutes before getting up to get brunch. It is important to be honest with your yourself, and to accept yourself, and all the little parts that you contain.

As others have said, too, I can see a little of myself in here. I'll confess to letting my nerd flag fly its highest when no one is around, even if I don't pack it all up when others come along. I'll chitchat with my co-workers when they mention that they're getting Guitar Hero for their son, or a Wii for their daughter. What's the harm in saying "Oh! A Wii! I think I'm jealous. She'll like that." or "They've got that one on sale at X store, go buy it there"? The admission of one's hobby is not the same thing as a frothing at the mouth, carried away by the spirit of the obsession nerd-gasm.

Let go of your fear. Unburden your heart.

THANK YOU! I've lived this life for some time. Started in college when school impeded my game time, to now, where all my social activities seem to be with people who don't play games.

For about two years I lived with my now ex-girlfriend and essentially lived this life. I listened (and still do) to gaming podcasts and read gaming blogs ALL the time. I love reading about them...but can only play soooo little.

At this point I'm single, working, and realizing I don't even want to play games anymore...I love them, but the last time I logged into wow or fired up TF2 I just felt a sadness for the fact that I won't come back for a long time and achieve anything within the game.

I very much appreciate this article. It speaks to me, the confused gamer trying to manage adult life and see where it all fits together. I haven't seen any articles or voices I feel represent this segment of gamers...we just can't be hardcore, were never into social gaming, and at some point logged 70+ hours in one Final Fantasy game or another...

THANKS TOMOHIKO!

Tomohiko, you may need to find a better girlfriend - we do exist. My other half is just like you - his first console was his megadrive, and just before Christmas we finally added a 360 to the collection. But they're not behind the TV, they're all proudly displayed in the living room. I love watching him play -I'm not good enough to finish a game myself, but I love to help - and I know at least one other wife who has become a dedicated "star-bit collector" in Mario Galaxy! (remember most girls are quite fond of things that are cute and/or sparkly - mario galaxy has both in spades)

I'm also the proud owner of a pink nintendo DS that lives in my handbag. Sure, sometimes it's hard to explain to other people why it's worth getting the gold medal in Cooking Mama!

It's really no different from any other hobby, like collecting stamps or comics or baseball cards, or playing an unusual sport like dragonboat racing or ultimate frisbee. Some people you talk to will be interested, most probably won't - but you can't let that stop you from doing the things you love, and besides - sometimes you discover new friends with your interest when you least expect it!!

Embrace your hobby Tomohiko, and share your passions with others - invite your girlfriend to pick up that 2nd controller and start scooping sparkly things!

...pft. I dislike that girl already.

Granted, I'm someone who can gush wildly over Planescape: Torment and such.

You really shouldn't keep it all in like that. It's... well hell, it shouldn't be expected of anyone. It's a horrid feeling. (I know. I had to hide playing D&D due to ZOMG IT'S EVIL parents.)

It's kinda like trying to act like a different person around your roommate, girlfriend, and her brother. You're hiding something that, whether they like it or not, is a part of yourself. Besides, gaming isn't anything to be ashamed of. If anything, it's a wildly under-appreciated form of interactive art. Any game worth playing has beauty in a combination of the visuals, mechanics, and story, or all of the above, in some cases. I don't see why people aren't allowed to think of games like that.

Maybe it's the word "games" that throws them off.

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