We start off as kids, sitting down on the floor with a wired controller in hand, from sunrise to sundown. We sit immersed in a dark room, where the only light being emitted comes from the TV. Our fingers are strong and we never get tired. Our eyes are fixated on one thing and one thing only, the TV. We finally make our way to our bed and get some sleep, just to wake up the next morning and do it all over again. We are all happy collecting experiences that will last our whole lives. And then we grow up.
We are now bombarded with responsibilities: relationships, respective jobs and careers, college, loans, debts, taxes, life insurance policies, car payments, house payments, phone bills, and daily expenses. All of which are necessary to staying alive and which keep us soldiering on. Now you find that you don't have time, and most importantly, money to invest in your gaming habits. Why not? Why do we have to succumb to the social norms that once we grow up gaming can no longer be a part of our regimen, when it has been nothing but good to us in the past? It taught us good ethics and morals, helped mold positive mindsets to incorporate in our daily lives, and provided us with a release for the stress of everyday life. The media has tried and tested us gamers by reporting statistics and news reports showing how gaming influences are the main cause of violent behavior. We have been shunned by people who have read a similar news article or by people who know the rare individuals that just can't quit an addiction to a console of choice. We get a bad reputation for enjoying a specific medium of art that is not well received by the masses.
To them I say: "You are all a bunch of hypocrites."
Individuals that read books, play sports, watch movies, and communicate with their friends during their spare time are considered "normal" simply because they don't engage in the "mindless waste of time" of video gaming. However, I've been a tennis player all my life, and on those rainy days when the courts are soaked, I turn to my Hot Shots Tennis game for comfort. Believe it or not, it is a way of studying different tennis techniques which I can then incorporate into my real world play.
A game is in itself a movie. It is also a story, and it can be just as engaging as the plotlines found in any novel. A good game may even last longer than a movie or short read. Of course, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy any of these mediums of entertainment just the same.
Moreover, the gaming community is dependent on such a gargantuan level of communication between players that saying we are anti-social in any form is quite frankly, a slap to the face. If it wasn't for the gaming blog Kotaku, I would have never met some of my closest friends. Yes, we play games together, but we also talk every day, whether it be in a private chat room or on the phone. I actually had the recent pleasure of meeting a very active Kotaku member, who is now a dear friend of mine, in Chicago. We went to Giordano's, and over deep dish pizza, we geeked out over our love for games. We did so in the same manner that any businessman would talk about the fluctuations of the stock market with a colleague.
But why are adult gamers such a taboo in society? Why are we shunned for our love of a specific art?Why can't anyone understand the reasons we still enjoy trekking along with a boy in a green tunic as he saves a girl he loves, all the while learning important life lessons? Why is this not acceptable; yet, people are okay with watching raunchy comedies that provide no intellectual stimulation?
But alas, we are grown men and women now. We must deal the deck life handed us, and we must soldier on. As gamers we are taught never to quit. We are taught to look forward to the next obstacle. We must grow up and learn how to balance our love for gaming and our adult responsibilities, all whilst dealing with (and trying to change) the stereotype we have been assigned.
Continuing our gameplay into our adulthood years can prove to be a rather a difficult task, especially with the aforementioned money and time restraints we encounter. However, does this mean we must give up gaming? Is there something we can do to save our love for gaming? I've devised a plan for the money-conscious adult gamers that own a PC or a PS3. My apologies to the Xbox 360 community. I do not own a 360 and wouldn't be well-versed in giving my opinion on services with which I am not familiar.
For the PC gamer:Save as much money as possible. Take this money and put it in a jar marked "Steam Sale". This tactic is quite simple and very effective. Each year Steam holds a summer sale for extremely popular games, all at a very low price. Since you have saved up a substantial amount of money, you can now buy whatever suits your interests and play them all the way until the next summer sale. This will help you stay within your budget and keep you busy with your new play-throughs. Two or three hours a night before bed for 365 days will be more than enough time to finish all your new games in your library and will keep you anticipating the next bundle of games you can get with Steam next year.
For the PlayStation gamer:The introduction of PlayStation Plus has shined a new light on how gaming subscriptions should be handled. Everyone in this scenario wins. Sony wins profits. You win thanks to the readily available arsenal of highly discounted games, as well as free ones. The developer wins because his or her game has become available to a massive audience, and has launched the developer to stardom.
Thanks to PlayStation Plus, the PlayStation gamer now has access to a selection of free and discounted titles every month. Indulge in the free games which are now available every month. However, in order to save money, limit yourself to purchasing ONE discounted game per month.
There are two downsides to PlayStation Plus: the monthly subscription payment, and a limited variety of game genres. The game selection is totally up to the discretion of Sony, but given the selection with which they have graced us in the past, we have yet to be disappointed by them. This aforementioned method provides gamers with a cheap alternative to discovering new game styles, and it also provides a good structure for those impulsive buyers.
These two models have their pros and their cons but it ultimately serves the same goal: to help us gamers keep enjoying what we love.
I have learned to reject what many say. They may never understand our emotional and deep attachments to our beloved franchises and series, but I know I will never understand the fascination that some people have over Justin Beiber... and that's okay. As gamers, we are a legion. While we might argue and fight over who is superior, we will always have one thing in common: we love games.