In the Defence of Gamers

By A. B. Thomas

Unlike many of my peers, I never felt the passion involved in playing video games.  Oh, I did go to the arcade every day, of course, but that was to buy cigarettes and cheap bottles of liquor from the older teenagers in exchange for quarters.  Perhaps it was that I didn’t see the allure of standing in front of a machine with a monitor that you stared hypnotically into for hour after hour, plugging in quarter after quarter, just to gobble a ghost or turn a triangle in circles shooting misshapen ovals or move side to side to shoot marching aliens descending toward you.  More the so it could have been that watching those kids furiously jostling the joysticks, slamming them around, whacking them to their very limits of endurance brought back fresh painful memories of my first sixty or so attempts to find a suitable technique of my own in my room late at night.  I remember how I would pass adults who would glance over at the arcade, disdainful scowls smeared on their faces muttering how lazy those damned kids were.  Things have changed now, kids don’t have to go through the nightmare of having to leave their own homes or earn enough quarters to play their games in a social setting to discuss strategies and techniques, now they have strategy guides and online ‘chat’.

The “pleasure” of video gaming as a pastime was introduced to me just a couple of years ago by three little boys for the sole purpose of kicking my psychological ass on a regular basis because physically they cannot do so. It has been a slow hike up in my ability, I still cannot get past level four on “Pac-Man”, I am stymied by the sheer number of “Mario” games and I cannot for the life of me figure out the appeal of pixelated blood spatters – half the fun of being bathed in blood is in its texture, the way it smells, the way it tastes, it’s warmth as it runs down your skin – but enough about my sex life, I was talking about video games.

Recently there came the need for me to enter “EB Games”, a store specializing in used video games and accessories, to make several purchases for a purchase I had made elsewhere previously as I am a “Newb”.  I’m not exactly sure what a “newb” is, but the eight and nine year old assured me that this was something I would wished to be known as.  The boys, when they are not creating havoc in the playground, or when they sense their mother is really looking forward to an ‘afternoon delight’, like to sit down (aka pushing, pulling, hitting, head locking, and passing gas on one another) to play video games.  They have the WII system from Nintendo that allows them to download games from the previous Nintendo series (which they also have but apparently it is far more ‘cooler’ to play the games on the WII than those systems, which coincidentally Nintendo charges for).

One of the series of games that the boys are enthralled with is the “Mario” series. One of the games that they have been looking lustily at on the computer and then asking…over and over and over again, is one for, you guessed it, the “Game Cube”, called “Luigi’s Mansion”. Been given the task to purloin this Holy Grail, I searched far and wide – well, fine, I called a couple of pawn shops and discovered one for cheap – to which then I proudly picked up and presented to my lieges upon bended knee. Their answer to the success of this mission? “Where’s the rest of the stuff?”

Rest of the stuff? Listen you sons of a bitches, I just went through hell dealing with some pimply faced pissant who acted like he was frigging king shit of the world though he probably has no chance in Hell of having his royal sceptre washed in the holy Basin of Vagina, show a little frigging appreciation.  What the Hell do you mean “rest of the stuff”?

As I said, you can download games from previous version of Nintendo game consoles…with the exception of Nintendo’s “Game Cube”, which the WII can play those discs – as long as you have the “Game Cube” controller and memory card, that is.  Thus leading to my expedition to “EB Games” to purchase said devices as required to run a game that the boys with the attention span of a rutting gnat will forget about within a week or two.

As I was paying for the purchases, the clerk smiled and said, “We are doing a promotional partnership with AXE, so here’s your complimentary samples of hair gel, shampoo and body gel”.

Inside the promotional bad was a pamphlet, which read as follows:

” Want to play a different kind of game?

Start using AXE products and get some real action! Try the free samples of AXE shower gel, AXE shampoo and AXE styling products, and instead of playing single, play multiplayer.”

Wow.

The pamphlet really drove the point home; with all the technological advances in video gaming, the basic stereotype that began in the early eighties is still pertinent today: gamers are losers with no life.   More to the point, based on the products provided by AXE, male video gamers are genetic deviants who have no hope in hell of landing any real date other than with their hand because, obviously being gamers, they have no sense of personal hygiene.

I feel it is only right, no, a must, that someone should defend gamers and their lifestyle.  Did not Robin Hood steal from the rich to give to the poor? Did not Ghandi fight for the rights of his people through non-violent means? Did not some publisher give Tony Blair a book deal? It behooves me to do so for those fellow human beings who, though they misuse “Visine” – imagine using the stuff to clear up their eyes so they can focus rather than what God intended it to be used for, to hide physical consequences of a herbal medication to induce the understanding of the depth of Yes’s “Tales from Topographic Oceans” from persons who have a serious power trip attitude and a gun, have to live their life as they wish. I am aware of the existence of female gamers, but quite frankly, I have yet to really run across a stereotype of one, so I feel that they are quite capable of handling things on their own. If there ever does come the time there is concern over the female gamer, I will only be more than willing to put decals with directional arrows and “A” or “B” or “Z” on my body in order to ease them back into the real world.  I’m sure that the real world would be rather frightening to these poor women, but I’m a giver, damn it and would give them what they needed to feel comfortable in the re-conditioning process.  It could be that they are scared of seeing the world without having the television or monitor screen to filter their lives through.  I would not be averse to having them experience what they are experiencing via a camera displaying on the monitor what they are doing, after all, it’s not like I haven’t been filmed before. In fact, a few years back, I was “penis #5” in the megaproduction of Snakespear’s “Roamin’ Ho and what she et” – see kids, you don’t have to have a large vocabulary or spelling to be a success! I shouldn’t say that, after all I did pen the immortal lines “But soft, but what hangs over yonder balcony? Tis a fully rounded moon! Cover me boys, I’m about to go NASA and plant my rocket right in her crater!” Yes, I know, but listen, you write forty pages of dialogue with slight variances of “Oh yeah, right there, uh-huh, baby, oh yeah” and see what you come up with.

AXE is morally wrong in attempting to shame gamers into being sociable; gamers should be encouraged to remain shut ins, coming out only into the real world to spend the night standing in a line at “Best Buy” when the new “Resident Evil” or “Halo” are about to be sold.  Gamers are just too dangerous to be on the streets with people with actual lives. First of all, they drive their little Honda Civics with the belief that they have a Lamborghini engine under their hood and that if they accidentally sideswipe your truck, its not a big deal, just press restart and all the damage will magically disappear.

Gamers always boast how when they play golf they can easily get twelve under par – on the video game.  Get behind them on the tee on green grass; you spend hours waiting as they attempt their 86th opening drive, cursing that someone really should put up some trajectory lines. Gamers will walk into a bar with their chests puffed out, thinking they are king shits because they can perform a twenty eight move combination on “Mortal Combat”, which eventually results in the spilling of my precious alcohol  as I demonstrate my single move –  bashing their foreheads into my table top. I have news for you gamers, just because you’ve logged over 6200 hours on “Stealth Fighter”, it does not make you qualified to land a frigging seven-forty-seven after the pilot has passed out after his tenth Jack and Coke on the hour flight. Gamers, don’t walk into a bar that I’m in and say you could wipe the floor with me. “Red” “red” “Blue” “Blue” “red” “blue” is not a chord progression; it’s a failed self-attempt at giving yourself a hand job, asshole. There is no way in hell that you can say that you can play guitar player just because you can push a few different coloured buttons on cue  as put up on the screen . Sorry, I’m just a little sore on the whole “Guitar Hero” thing.

One night the nine year old and asked me if I wanted to play one of those “Guitar Hero” games.  One of the songs just happened to be Joan Jett’s “I love Rock n’ Roll”, a song that I had learned way back when and now some kid who wasn’t even out of diapers when I was going on celebrating that song for twenty years, and he decided that we would see who could get the highest percentage of correct ‘hits’. I was going to wipe the floor, demean, debase and humiliate the boy who tortured me so over dying so many times on level one of “Super Mario World”. Do you know how demeaning it is to not to be just beaten, but decimated by a kid who looks at the title of a generational mantra and goes “gee, guess they didn’t know how to spell back then, eh”? No matter how hard I tried, my fingers would not hit the right buttons; they kept on trying to hit non-existent strings. I tried “Shout at the Devil”, I wanna be Sedated”, “Ace of Spades”, even “Smoke on the Water” – all songs that I can, and have, played in a condition which medical doctors would classify as legally dead – all with the same result: being booed just before being told to try again. To add insult to injury, this wretched child, who had gotten bored watching me fail continually and had turned on “MuchMusic”, pointed to the television screen at the video being played and pronounced, “Adam Lambert is a rock god”. I tried to explain that to be a rock god there had to be some aspect of longevity to a career, not a single album.  Joan Jett has been kicking ass and taking names for over thirty years, I told him, she is a rock goddess. His response? Can you play “what do you want from me”? No.  Isn’t God someone who you look up to but can never be? I suppose. You can play Joan Jett. Yes.  You can’t play Adam Lambert –he’s a rock god.

So to AXE and other like minded promotional think tanks that wish to sell their wares to those gamers who are locked away in their rooms – leave them alone.  Is not the world glutted enough with  know-it-all so called professionals who can’t pick their own asses without consulting a textbook or forming a committee to develop an action plan for that action? Today’s youth are inundated by half truths and sociological spin doctors bent on shaping the world into a blob of uncharacter without accepting accountability for those desires.  Do these gamers really need to be encouraged to believe that the theoretical shell of video games is superior to practical experience? Perhaps it is time for the United Nations to defend the right of video gamers; after all, population control is supposedly one of their primary concerns, is it not? Instead of sending out boxes of condoms, send a Nintendo or Playstation and you will see a drop in births within the first year as it will be a different kind of joystick there will be a hankering to use. Gamers should have the right to leave their genetic legacy on the floor inside a crumpled piece of tissue paper beside the couch after getting excited over “Laura Croft” pulling her pistol out in a big dark cave.