Sunday, November 11, 2012


Today is a special day. Because it is Veterans Day, you might say? Yes but no. Today is so special to my friends and I because it is the anniversary of Skyrim's release. Gaming was revolutionized.

I have a confession to make: I'm a sucky gamer. I'm actually really, really bad. All I do is crash things and get myself killed and get in last. All sorts of lovely things like that. For this reason, I'm best at Grand Theft Auto though I always get busted by the cops. In my defense, I can only game over my friends' houses because I have no gaming systems at home (and didn't grow up with video games growing up). I have a Wii now but I don't really use that to game all that much but to play sports. So... yeah. I can game online but apparently online games are much easier than games on any controller so I'm screwed.

There is something pretty cool about gaming. Even in my suckiness, I feel exhilarated. Kicking some guy's ass (or, uh, beating, shooting or stabbing him) gives me a thrill. It's an adrenaline rush. Grand Theft Auto is my favorite because I can do this most often (and the little figures look and sound so funny when they fall down and scream especially if they are struck down by your card).

I was first introduced to gaming when I was younger. My mom signed me up for a course at my camp called "Game Making". My mom thought it was word games for some reason but it turned out to be video games (I knew I was in trouble when the instructor came up to me and handed me my name tag when I hadn't even said a word). At first, I felt dread but I found that making and playing video games was actually a lot of fun. Of course, the boys at my camp complained that my game was too easy (theirs were impossible to me) but I didn't care. I found something fun. I met my gamer friends years after this and they, of course, were much better gamers than I ever was (very good even by gaming standards).

At this point, I hear the objections from some of my readers. "Video games make you violent", they might argue. "They're a waste of time", others might say. Or, the most annoying response to my gamer girl friends, "Why would girls like video games?"

First of all, watching a video game character get killed feels nothing like watching a TV character getting killed. It feels fake. I don't make the connection to a human being at all. Real human violence still makes me feel equally as appalled as it did when I started gaming and I suppose my friends can say the same. I suppose those who start gaming young might be desensitized. After all, they cannot yet make this distinction and so it affects them during that time. Violent games should strictly be for older gamers for this very reason, of course.

Secondly, gaming is a form of entertainment. It's done to help someone relax and give them a good time. Must everything be productive? People need a chance to relax and video games can often help them do that. It's no different than writing, watching TV, playing sports, reading a romance or any other hobby. Some might argue that the above have educational value or help with physical and mental health, while video games stagnate the mind and make you antisocial. However, gaming often can be a social activity like it is with my friends and it has enough challenges to keep you alert and fully aware. Games like Skyrim can even incorporate elements of Norse mythology and high fantasy and read like a story; other games incorporate real life elements (gamers tend to be of the geeky sort after all, so these elements are often a turn on). Gamers tend to have great hand-eye coordination and can even be better drivers; they also tend to be really great at problem solving and not relying on others in the process. In small amounts, video games can teach a variety of important real life skills. It's only in large amounts that it can be problematic and can cause a variety of health problems, antisocial behaviors (when constantly gaming alone) and, at worst, addiction.
The notion about girl gamers is pretty insulting. There are a lot of preconceived notions about gamers in general but girl gamers are often treated harshly (especially by the gaming community itself). Yes, most gamers are guys. That's probably because games tend to be targeted towards guys and society paints gaming as uncool for girls. There's less of a chance for girls to be introduced to video games also. Admittedly, two of my gamer friends were turned on to video games by their older brothers. There's also a lot of sexism in games and with many guy gamers. Yet girls are turned on to the same elements of gaming as guys are so their interest shouldn't be surprising.

Obviously, most of these negative feelings towards games and gamers are held by those who don't game and never have. They're pretty ignorant and baseless.

The rush of gaming is like no other. It's actually pretty awesome. I'm so glad I have gamer friends who turned me on to gaming in the first place.

So, yes, today is a special day. Without Skyrim and games like it, my friends and I would be radically different.

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