Ronald Meeus is a former staff writer at Belgian newspaper De Morgen and a currenter freelancer. He lives with his 6-year-old daughter in a small town near Brussels.
Real gamers have moms downstairs, goodhearted women who secretly wish their sons developed a more fulfilling social life but have long ago stopped forcing the issue. They sit at dining room tables, sighing in front of their sons' cold plates of dinner, hoarse from yelling into the stairwells where the noise of machine gun fire stifles any hope of their pleas being heard. These mothers watch President Obama on the news, telling the nation he wants today's youth to get up from behind their Xboxes, and nod in silent approval.
Time is irrelevant to real gamers. They don't calculate the hours it will take to reach level cap in Fallout 3 - they're too wrapped up in the experience to care. In real life as it is in the Capital Wasteland, time is of no essence. Sure, they'll put on the bodice of carnal life every now and then, allocating a few hours to the fulfillment of the lowest rungs in Maslow's pyramid: school, job, sleep, boy- or girlfriend, creature comforts, occasional outings. But the rest of their time belongs to whatever game they're playing. Other people would call it boredom. Unwillingness to do something productive. Ennui. But gamers don't see their hobby as a waste of time. For them, it's a sublimation of it. The amount of hours at their disposal is so abundant that they rarely feel compelled to put the controller down.
Sometimes, when real gamers engage in multiplayer sessions online, they meet people like me: impostor gamers. I'm the guy who clearly only dedicates one or two hours a week to his gaming habit and still expects to keep up with the pros. Of course, I won't and never will. The real gamers giggle amongst themselves on internet forums about how they "pwned" us, again and again, the pathetic "n00bs" that we are. But I have news for them: Most real gamers don't stay that way forever. I should know, because I was once one of them.
Real gamers meet wives, and most of these wives aren't thrilled at the prospect of taking over the role of the indulging mother. So they make the real gamers get up from behind their Xbox 360s and find proper jobs. When these gamers get home from work, they concede even more of their dwindling free time to the attention of their children, and after that, their spouses. And when they finally pick up the controller only to hear their wives beckon them upstairs with a bedroom voice, only the very brave (or the very stupid) would make them wait.