10 reasons why it's hard work being a gamer

6. We are still the focus of sniggering mockery

According to some optimists, the geeks shall inherit the Earth. But until that glorious day dawns we'll have to settle for being at the butt-end of tired jokes, victimisation and social snobbery. To look at some people's faces when they learn how much we get a funk on for games you'd think we were talking to them with our cock dangling out our trousers. Or breasts out your blouse.

Generally such shocking revelations are met either with an effort to engage in polite discourse ("Um. My Gran really likes Wii Bowling?"), an awkward conversational dead-end ("Oh. Games. Er. Right...") or some tiresome funny we've heard more than once before ("You like staying in on your own and fiddling with your joystick. And by that I mean wanking.").

Society is prejudiced against us, ignorant advocates of a 'playcism' perpetuated by spurious mistruths, demonisations and misconceptions spoon fed to them by a mainstream media that treats us with the kind of contempt one might show for a ginger step-child with dog shit on his sandals.

7. We're stuck in a perpetual cycle of knowledge gathering

One common misconception is that gamers do nothing but play games. But that's absolute pish. The actual physical act of playing games is just a tiny part of what being a dedicated gamer is all about. We don't clock off when we put the pad down. No. We consume game knowledge.

We mouse a merry dance across the internet, sucking up information about old games, new games, crap games, brilliant games. We obsess over the details of release dates, frame rates and firmware updates. We flick through fancy designed hardback coffee table books dedicated to the rich pixellated history of games. We're funnelling information through our eyes and ears and into our brains at all times.

Why? Because as dedicated gamers it's our duty to possess The Knowledge. Without it we can't call ourselves gamers.

Don't know what year Pong was made? You're not a gamer. Can't talk for half an hour about Ralph Baer? You're a pretender. Mind a blank about what Peter Moore has tattooed on his arm? Sign your name Loser. Haven't a clue what Inu No Osanpo is? Go stand in the corner.

It's an unrelenting regime of perpetual knowledge consumption that we selflessly submit ourselves to. But do it we must.

8. We must be stalwart defenders of the faith

There's always someone waiting to have a nasty dig at games. Christians. Muslims. Haitians. Politicians. Teachers. Athletes. Noel Gallagher. Your mum. So we always have to be on our guard. Vigilant and ready to leap to the defense of games whenever some half-wit decides to jump on the bashwagon and have a sneaky ill-considered pop.

This particular aspect of being a dedicated gamer is particularly hard work, because it means that for us to offer a well-informed and intelligent action of dialogue we actually have to know some stuff about other stuff that isn't games.

Like the wider causes of society's problems, such as the adverse effects of a poor diet, over-boozing, violence portrayed in other cultural mediums, ignorance and poverty. So we strive with determined steps to become authoritative and knowledgeable in each of these areas. Which is kind of convenient because we generally eat terrible food, binge drink at weekends, love watching gore movies and are utterly penniless most of the time. But hey, at least we're not ignorant.

9. Personality disorders kind of go with the territory

Every human person on the planet has issues. That's why therapy is a bulti-billion dollar business. A lot of people are going through very personal struggles. So we're not trying to say we're special or anything, but nothing makes those idiosyncrasies so shockingly apparent than video games.

Just sit a man/woman in front of a TV, give them a game to play and watch their hidden personas bubble to the surface like a fart in the tub. For example...

  • Obsessive compulsive: "I've been awake for 37 hours but I can't go to sleep until I've found the last piece of arbitrary collectible flotsam."
  • Defeatist: "I'll never beat a level 40 kraken with the Amulet of Mild Disdain. Yeah, I know I've got a Megaton Laser Bazooka but it's obvious that the developers don't want me to win. What%26rsquo;s the point? I'm going to bed."
  • Attention-seeking: "I'm shooting everyone on my own team just because I can. And to prove how much I don't care, I'll upload a video of it to YouTube."

Yes. When we play games we are naked creatures. We can't hide from who we are. The superficial shell melts away and our innermost oddities are exhibited like ridiculous hats in a milliners window. Ask your sneering non-gamer friends this: could they handle being so intimate with their raw inner-selves? Somehow we doubt it.

10. It's long hours, there's bugger all holiday and the pay's a joke

Yes, being a dedicated gamer is a full-time job. A full-time sweat-shop job and the boss is a taskmaster bastard of the cruellest kind. There's no 9-5 clock on/clock off, no pleasant chatter by the water cooler and no stalking people's photo collections on Facebook when you should be fudging budget spreadsheets or performing some other soul-crushingly tedious task.

It's not uncommon for the working gaming day to begin the minute we wake to the moment we go to bed in the dead, empty twilight hours of the next day. Breaks are only taken when absolutely essential. We're masters of bladder control and battlers of sleep deprivation. We're hostages in our own homes surviving on biscuits and caffeine.

And, as we've already said, there's no escape. We can make pretend to ourselves that we're going on 'a holiday', but we know the closest thing we'll get to a tan is a dose of screen burn courtesy of the LCD glare from our PSP and DS.

The most sickening thing is that for all the dedication, loyalty, toil and slog, we never get a penny. We put plenty of money in, but barely ever do we get more than a downloadable bean out again. We should really get better organised and form ourselves a union.

Oct 17, 2008

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Matt Cundy
I don't have the energy to really hate anything properly. Most things I think are OK or inoffensively average. I do love quite a lot of stuff as well, though.