A year ago, in the midst of final exams and papers, I gave myself a few hours off to watch The Game Awards, the Oscars of the video game world (but with less gowns and more t-shirts). I remember that night, huddled on my bed in my dorm room, seeing Celeste win the Best Independent Game and Games for Impact awards. I was intrigued, because the Games for Impact Award generally goes to games focused on emotional storytelling and/or social issues. Not only that, but the developer, Matt Thorson, spoke about mental illness in his acceptance speech. I kept the game in the back of my mind.
Later that month, I was visiting family in North Carolina, and saw that my cousin was playing Celeste. I learned then that Celeste is a platforming game that relies on quick reflexes and precision to make it from one “room” to the next. I really wanted to give it a try, because the music was catchy and the retro graphics were cute, but I’m horrible at platformers. Even Super Mario games with all of their fail-safes are a challenge for me. I had a feeling that Celeste would be a frustrating waste of money for me, so I shelved the idea of ever playing it.
That is, until the Epic Games Store gave it away for free this year. Knowing it was considered one of the best games of 2018, I “bought” it and decided to give it a whirl when I was itching for a new game to play.
As I suspected, I sucked at it. In the first chapter (or “level”) alone, I died hundreds of times. I would die hundreds more in the chapters to come. But what really drew me in to Celeste was its story and main character, Madeline. I found myself identifying with Madeline a lot, and in a way, her quest to reach the summit of Celeste Mountain became my quest too.
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve shared my thoughts on how exclusive geek and gamer culture can be. If you missed everything I’ve said about it in the past, here’s quick summary: I think it’s stupid. Why should we be allowed to set such arbitrary rules about who is and isn’t allowed to enjoy a specific hobby? We’re only hurting ourselves.
Anyway, in the process of writing those many, many blog posts, I had a realization: if the right (or wrong) questions were asked, chances are, I’d be considered a “fake gamer.” Also known as: “Casual” or “noob.” This isn’t something that bothers me (if other people want to make hasty judgments, that’s on them), but I decided to compile a list anyway. You can think of it as my “gamer confessions” in a way, or just a list of reasons why the division between gamer and non-gamer is so ridiculously arbitrary.
Like with almost any label someone can apply to themselves (baker, photographer, reader, etc.), there seems to be some set of criteria for calling yourself a gamer, but no one knows what it is. What separates a gamer from a non-gamer? What’s on that mythical list of requirements? Today, I’d like to answer that question and finally put an end to these discussions.
Before I dive into that though, I want to give a shoutout to the wonderful people in the Geeks Under Grace community! I posed this same question in their Facebook group, and while these thoughts in my post are mine alone, discussing this topic with them helped me process some of my own ideas.
Let’s say you’re planning a road trip across the country. You get your maps out (or use the internet) and follow the highways, looking for cities and other places to stop along the way. Before long, you’ve got the whole route planned out, down to every motel or Airbnb you’ll be staying in.
Does this make the trip any less exciting? Most of us would probably say no. Planning ahead is the prudent thing to do – after all, you don’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere with no place to eat or sleep. Having a GPS or map guide you doesn’t make the trip any less of an adventure.
Video game walkthroughs function similarly to a GPS, except instead of telling you which exit to take, they tell you how to defeat those strange new enemies, which block needs to be pushed to solve the puzzle, and where to find any hidden secret. In other words, they’re a map to guide you on your virtual adventure.
Following the road trip logic, using a walkthrough shouldn’t diminish the sense of adventure or excitement in playing the video game. Yet, for some reason, we gamers seem to think it does, and we look down on any one who would dare look up the solution to a puzzle on YouTube. We call them “casuals” and “fake gamers.”
But why? What makes their way of enjoying video games inferior to ours? What’s so wrong with using a walkthrough?
I hope you’re all doing well and that you’ve enjoyed this last full week of April. I can’t believe the month has gone by so quickly, to be honest – it still feels like Easter was last week, but it’ll be May in just a few days. Still, I’m looking forward to next month – I’ll be celebrating my birthday, going to a concert, and finishing up my second year of college, which I’m excited about.
This week was the first week of school, and I’ve been pretty busy with stuff already, so this WIR is gonna be short (by the way, quick question for you all at the end of this post, if you enjoy sharing your opinions). Anyway, this week, I shared 6 Tips on Surviving College as an Introvert, so if you’re in college, this one’s for you!
As for the rest of the week, here’s a quick wrap-up!
Imagine yourself in a conversation with some of your friends. One person mentions something – maybe it’s a new movie that just came out, your favorite book, or a hobby of yours – whatever it is, it’s something you’re passionate about. Suddenly, you find yourself exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, I love [that thing]!” and you end up talking a mile a minute, expressing your enjoyment of the aforementioned Thing.
Okay, so maybe it doesn’t always happen that way, but we’ve all had those moments where the conversation turns towards something that we love, and we can’t help talking about it. Whether it’s a hobby, a form of media, a cause, or just one of our favorite things, we all have stuff that we’re passionate about and love talking about.
However, I think we’ve all also had those moments where we feel like we’re talking too much about The Thing. It’s the feeling of self-doubt creeping in and telling you that you’re talking too much, no one cares, and you should just shut up.
Today, I want to talk about talking, specifically, talking about the things we love. It’s hard, it’s awkward, and sometimes, it can be embarrassing. But we all have things we enjoy and want to share with the world, so how do we do it? For me, it really just comes down to two simple principles.
We often remember how we first discovered the things we’re passionate about. It might be the book that got you to enjoy reading, the first camera you ever owned, or the movie that made you realize you wanted to be a film director. Though I remember may of those things, the ones that really stick out in my mind are the video games.
Not long ago, I realized my blog had been lacking in one of my favorite subjects – gaming. Sure, I talk about it here and there, but I’ve never really focused on it for a whole blog post (except perhaps Writing Lessons from Ace Attorney, but even that was more writing-focused than gaming-focused).
Growing up, gaming was never really a big deal in my family. I played a version of Pac-Man that plugged into the TV and enjoyed my fair share of computer games, but that was about it. Without these three games, I probably wouldn’t be the gamer I am today. Sure, I’d probably enjoy a few rounds of MarioKart or play the occasional game of bowling on Wii Sports, but nothing too intense. These games really changed my life for the better, and ever since I played them for the first time, they’ve opened the door to more geekery and gaming.
Yesterday, I was procrastinating on Pinterest when I came across this pin:
(Yes, I did go all the way back through my browser history to find that. Also, we’re going to ignore the poor text editing.)
Of course, this is just one of many pictures just like this. If you searched “nerd girl problem” on the internet, you’d end up with a plethora of images very similar to the one above. I’ve seen them dozens of times, and to be honest, I think they’re ridiculous and usually ignore them. However, I came across this one in particular, and something about it rubbed me the wrong way.
But before I talk about this, let’s talk about gatekeeping.
Today is the first day of October and you know what that means? HALLOWEEN IS COMING.
Well, there’s that and also another edition of “Best Of” (which I’m starting to think is poorly named, but I’ll worry about that another day). Since I’ve been giving you a lot of updates throughout the month about life and college and stuff, I won’t have as much to talk about there, but there are a lot of other things to talk about! So without further ado…