by DavidB (May 2021)
I’m not a gamer.
Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Especially if you consider the fact that the very first video game I’ve ever played was Pong.
Then came Space Invaders on my best friend’s Atari 2600. There was also Zaxxon, Pac-Man, and the others, as well as way too much pocket money spent in coin-operated arcade games in junior high school. I wasn’t even that good (except for Tetris, but that came later, in high school. I was very good at Tetris then). Around the same time (1985? 1986?), I got my very first computer back when almost no one had a computer. It was a Thomson MO5, a French model! Yes, in the eighties, France was making computers. I quickly moved to Amstrad, first a CPC 464 and then a CPC 6128, because they were the coolest computers then. I assume that these names will bring back lots of memories to a lot of Gen-Xers among you.
And of course, while I learned a lot about computers with these machines – to the point I ended studying computer science after high school before shifting to English – I’m not gonna lie, there was also a lot of playing involved. These were the days of Gauntlet, Barbarian, and Captain Blood, to name a few.
Then I got my first PC, for studying of course. And for playing. Prince of Persia comes to mind and Civilization. Oh, Civilization, the first time a game made me play all weekend long!
So, yes, I played a lot of video games in my youth.
And yet, I never saw myself as a gamer.
I guess there are a few reasons for that. First of all, I never owned a game console (spoiler alert: until Christmas 2020, that is). And also, while playing video games has pretty much always been a hobby of mine, it never was a major one. Playing video games was the thing I’d do when I had nothing else to do. It never was my first choice for passing time.
Well, I was a gamer, just not a video gamer.
In my teens and early twenties, my main hobby was probably playing games, but not the video kind, rather the social kind: tabletop or live-action role-playing games, board games, etc.
As I became an adult and later a father, video games took a smaller and smaller place in my life, especially when blogging became my new favorite pass time. When you’re a (trying to be) functioning adult and father, there’s only so much free time in a day, the number of things you can use it for is quite limited.
So while I never completely quit playing video games, it had become a rather minor thing in my life during the 2010s.
And then, COVID-19 happened!
2020 has been a trying year for all of us. For me, the most difficult was moving all of my classes online. While some other teachers dreaded the thing because of their computer literacy, or lack thereof, it brought a completely different set of issues and challenges to me. Problems that I totally imposed on myself without realizing it. At first, I was pretty excited about the prospect of teaching online. I started having all of these grand plans and ideas. It could have worked. If I had taught one class, maybe two. It wasn’t sustainable with eight classes and around 200 students. I soon realized that when teaching online, everything takes longer, even more so when you have some uncooperative or confused students.
I overworked myself in a way I had never done before.
Most nights, after work, I found myself just too exhausted to be able to write, or read, or even watch movies – my three main nighttime hobbies along with wasting time on social media (even that had become too tiring and added stress instead of relieving it). A friend – who is a gamer – advised me to play video games. I gave it tried.
Dude, I think video games may have saved my life last year! They were what I needed to be able to unwind from the day and release all the stress and pressure of that insane period.
What about now? Well, we’re in May 2021, a bit more than a year later. We’re in it for a third round of teaching online. I have learned from my mistakes. I’m double-checking myself constantly to make sure I do not overwork myself this time. If something is imperfect or messy, so be it. If a student is not doing their assignment, I’m not going to hunt them down so that they don’t fall behind. They too have learned how to study online by now, so it’s on them.
And video games are never too far these days. We can even say that they’ve become a regular hobby of mine again, even more so since Christmas when Santa brought a Nintendo Switch after my daughter begged for one for more than a year.
I’m still not a gamer, though.
I still don’t recognize myself in the “gaming culture.”
There are many popular styles of games that I just dislike or have no interest in. For example, I hate platform games with a passion, you know, the kind where if you miss the exact pixel you need to jump onto, you’ll fall into an off-screen bottomless pit and you’ll have to start over with no workaround. I’m not too big on shooting games either, nor on many of the gaming tropes that have become mainstream in the 2000s and beyond.
However, I found out that nowadays there are many sorts of other games that exist. There really are games for everyone. Even for non-gamers!
They’re mostly the ones that I’ve started playing.
And they’re the ones I want to introduce here from time to time, from my non-gamer perspective. Because some of them really are works of art that it’d be a shame if you never gave them a shot because they’re video games and you’re not a gamer.
So, I hope you’ll enjoy
“Video games for non-gamers”
Coming soon to the Swamp.