So, as some of you might know, my main writing gig for the last few years has been in video games. Video games, boo! You're super taken aback right now. Like, I know - video games. How does someone make a living writing about video games? Well, that's easy. You don't.
You just attend every launch you can and pray they cater vegetarian. So, anyway. I know a thing or two about games, despite the pains men in the industry have undergone to prove otherwise. I also know a thing or two about women and video games, which is what's prompted me to write this piece on why you don't play games, and why you should. Yup, you. You with the cute hair. You who didn't even catch on to Pokémon Go.
Here are five reasons you don't partake, and five reasons why you should.
~*Games are filled with macho dudes and sad, scantily clad women*~
It's 2017 and no one wants to take shit from video games telling us how we're supposed to look and behave, or what we're meant to aspire to.
Noooooo stress, babe. 'Cause while there are plenty of games still rocking an 80s MACHO MACHO MAN 'aesthetic' (puh-lease), the feminist movement working with in the games industry has made giant strides, and plenty of developers see the appeal in creating more inclusive, and more realistic games.
Representation indeed matters. Which is why, today, video games include characters from many different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, while non-binary gendered characters have made increasing appearances.
#You don't like shooting things#
Fair enough. You've probably heard the old adage - video games are violent. This isn't the place for debate on that topic. Rather, we're here to give you the brilliant news - not all video games have you playing a soldier, cowboy, spy, or any other person with the licence and intent to kill. Apart from traditional role-playing games (RPGs) like Skyrim (2012) - where the emphasis is on exploration of a new world and its history - there are new kinds of games that have made the scene loads more pacifist-friendly.
In fact, there's been a definite rise of what's being called 'empathy games' - games built with empathy-inducement as a major player focus. That Dragon, Cancer (2016) is one such game. Created by wife-husband duo, Amy and Ryan Green, That Dragon was made about the couple's loss of their four-year-old son, Joel, to cancer. Then there's &maybetheywontkillyou, a game where players are shown what it's like to be a person of colour in the States, made by the peeps at RainBros. Things have changed, clearly.
Plus, there are even a few games that deal with mental wellbeing as a primary concern - a far cry from the 'guns blazing' motif that plagued most video game titles in the last twenty years. For these check out Depression Quest (2013), and Neverending Nightmares (2014). Trigger warnings on these links for issues relating to depression, and OCD.
!±You don't have time±!
This is a legitimate issue that isn't altogether solved with a better understanding of the current video game climate. If you're low on time, you're low on time. And who isn't? We're all trying to have successful careers, enduring friendships, and love affairs, while simultaneously caring about social justice issues, staying fit, and paying tax.
Most days we struggle to find time to sleep, never mind play video games.
Maybe there's a workaround in realising that video games are a lot like reading, watching TV, and listening to podcasts. They are a pleasant way to while away a few down-time hours. Meaning that all the time you spend on books, TV, and podcasts might be better spent playing games. Better how, right? Well, we've got this theory.
It goes that video games are apex of artistic expression. They take words, visuals, and sound, then combine these with player agency to form a user experience that is totally engaged. Some of the most 'aha' and 'ooh' moments we've had from watching a movie or reading a book have been matched by experiences in-game - and we're talking commercial titles, too.
Now, we're not saying that video games will replace books in your life. We're just saying that by not thinking of them as a viable way to spend your time is limiting the scope of wonderful, crushing, hopeful, funny, disturbing - whatever - experiences you can have in your lifetime. Don't do that to yourself. That's like saying you're just not going to read - ever. Or listen to music. Or watch a film. It's that kind of intense detachment that you're encouraging when video games aren't on your radar. DON'T DO IT, BETHANY! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T!
):You're not 'good' at them:(
The first time you pick up a game controller can be daunting. Your thumbs perform very different duties. One aims your camera, the other moves your character. If you're playing on a PC, it will mean becoming familiar with the 'WASD' keys in a way you never have before. Like any new thing you try, it's likely you will suck at it for the first few hours. That's a fairly short time to pick up a new skill, though.
Think about it. How long did it take you before you could boil an egg to perfection, ride a bike without training wheels, or learn what the flying fuck was going on in Snapchat's user interface? The only difference between yourself and the world's best competitive gamers today is time.
K, look, maybe there's more to it than that, but time is a big factor. Give yourself some space to be 'bad' at games and you won't regret it. ALSO - this is important - most games aren't competitive. Toofufu's favourite games are all single-player campaigns designed around player discovery. Playing 'well' doesn't mean much beyond a grasp of basic button functions. So, there.
Game$ are expen$ive
Yeah, they are. There's not much getting around that. Besides the cost of a console, or a computer capable of running contemporary releases, there's the R1000 cost of your average new release. That's a healthy dollop of inaccessibility.
BUT. If you're someone who frequents the cinema (R200 a pop), does a fair amount of eating out, or if you find yourself renting films and buying books on the reg, you can replace some of this with the purchase of one or two games a year. Say you decide to buy a role-playing game (RPG) at R1000. That game might give you fifty full hours of play, or more. That's R20 for every hour. Much cheaper than going to see a film. And remember, games can be just as social and cinematic as a trip to the big screen.
It's also not the case that all games are expensive, or require a dedicated machine. Online stores like Steam, Humble Bundle, and Itchio have plenty of cheap or free-to-play games available at any given point. Mobile games are also MASSIVE. Just hit up your App Store or Google Play and find something that looks to your liking. May we suggest Monument Valley?