I just saw an amazing eBook for sale over on Smashwords. It retails for $9.99 and purports to explain to women just exactly why men like to play video games.
The idea intrigued me so I took a quick look at it and walked away again scratching my head at the guy’s audacity for trying to make money off the book and also for a complete and utter lack of
a) understanding of the genre and phenomena as a whole
b) respect for his readers
I’m a gamer.
Let’s start with that. I’ve been playing video games since I was nine years old and was exposed to Space Invaders for the first time. I can still clock up an easy quarter mill on a single credit (10p in old money!) and yes, for my sins I’m a rather competitive gamer. Heck once upon a time I was ranked number 55 in the world on Space Harrier! Now for me that was an achievement, but in all seriousness there honestly aren’t many people who will ever actually care about it. Over the years I’ve played on multiple gaming formats and multiple gaming genres from sports to FPS and RPG. I’ve been an early adoptor and picked up stuff off the grey import market. Some people would consider me a hardcore gamer, but for me I play for the challenge and I play for fun.
I love games. I’ve spent the last few days hammering away on Dead Space 2 – a nice horror/sci-fi crossover with an intriguing storyline, some gross out visuals and a few quality jump out of your seat moments. I love it! In the book I took a look at the author relates a story about playing a game of Madden (American football) and his girl rings him. He then relates how disgruntled he is to have recieved the call while he was playing and how he dismissed her so he could carry on playing.
I found that interesting because I could relate – when my girlfriend phoned me last night I was mid-game on Dead Space, slaughtering evil mutated critters left right and centre. I didn’t dismiss her, I didn’t hang up the phone; I talked to her for an hour and a half and THEN went back to playing my game. I have proiorities you see and I can differentiated between what is and is not important. The game can be played any time, that conversation will NEVER happen again. Like I said; priorities.
The other thing I noted about the guy’s book was that he claimed to have all the answers for his readers and yet in his opening he states that he has never played a First Person Shooter and proceeds to make several assumptions about the genre and the people that play it. How can he provide an answer to something he has NO experience of? The things that would draw someone to playing a sports sim may not be the same factors that draw someone to a driving game or RPG or FPS. Hell I’ve nailed each Call of Duty and HALO game I’ve ever played on the hardest difficulty setting simply for the personal challenge of kicking arse and knowing I was a decent gamer.
My eldest loves RPG’s – he can reel off stats and hitpoint modifiers til the cows come home. Now I like an good RPG myself and Final Fantasy is one of my favourite gaming series. For me it’s less about the stats and more about imersing myself in the storyline and the world. But all the time I’m aware that it IS a game, it’s NOT as important as real life and that people in the real world should come first.
I don’t have to be standing in a midnight queue for the latest release or go crazy if I can’t get a new map pack or add-on straight away. I can wait, I have patience (and a limited disposable income!). That isn’t me, but I’m happy to invest hours of my life in hammering away at something for fun, for the challenge, to succeed. I suppose that’s what it comes down to for most people who game; not just men, but the girl gamers out there too. And make no mistake, there are girls out there that are as good as and in some cases better than their male contemporaries. My daughter is the one person I will always team up with for a Legendary co-op game of HALO because she kicks arse on it!
At the end of the day we play for the challenge, we play for the cameraderie and trash talking friendship of an online match, we play for personal satisfaction, but above and beyond those things we play for fun!