Guest post, people, guest post. Nick is still pretty set on the whole “becoming a lawyer” thing, so sometimes the job comes before the blog. He’s working late, so I’m here to entertain you.
Here’s something I’m sure every nerd over a certain age comes up against: “Aren’t you a little old for that?” Whether it’s comics, anime, science fiction, or, in the case of our readers, video games, there is a certain contingent of the population that looks down on your favourite pastimes as immature. I’ve got some thoughts on how to respond to this attitude.
Just to be clear, I am not talking about changing anybody’s mind. These people are set in their ways, and when they ask you what an adult sees in a cartoon figure blowing up blocks, they are not genuinely interested in your response. They find it funny, and they are trying to shame you. Don’t feel bad, though. We’re nerds. People not understanding our hobbies is par for the territory.
Let’s go through some standard scenarios.
Question: “When are you going to outgrow this?”
Tempting response: “Video games aren’t just for kids! Many of them have complex stories and require sophisticated battle strategies! You need to be coordinated and quick thinking to be really good at them! “
Why it won’t work: The people you are talking to either grew up before video games were a thing, so they will always view them as the purview of the young, or they are young people who only know immature games, and judge the entire genre based on that. If I’d only ever seen Rob Schneider movies, I wouldn’t think too highly of people who spend their weekends at the cinema, you know?
Appropriate response: “I don’t expect to. Hey, did you see the closing ceremonies last week?”
“Time will only tell” also works.
Question: “Why don’t you ever go out an have real fun?”
Tempting response: “I’m having way more fun in here than I would anywhere else.”
Why it won’t work: Well, it’s not really true. You would probably have more fun at like, Disney Land, or San Diego Comic Con, or a party boat that goes to the moon. Look, I don’t know what you consider fun. However, you can’t be having hardcore, active fun at all times, which we all know, and it’s stupid to pretend otherwise.
Appropriate response: “I’d just like to relax today. What are your plans?” Keep repeating variations of this until they become bored or take the bait and talk about their plans.
Question: “When are you going to do something productive with your time?”
Tempting response: “I am plenty productive! Look at all my accomplishments!” And then you start listing shit. “I graduated college and I work hard and my boss likes me and I once won a prize”.
Why it doesn’t work: Whether you know where it’s from or not, you’ve heard the phrase “The lady doth protest too much.” Hearing a list of accomplishments, whether they are impressive or not (reducing your monthly expenses by 30% by growing your own weed is only impressive to a few, select people, for example, and your uptight dad isn’t one of them), just makes you sound defensive, which sounds weak, which sounds like proof that you secretly know they are right.
Appropriate response: “What could be more productive than farming for gold? I’m slaving away! Do you like quinoa? It was the secret ingredient on Iron Chef America last night, and Bobby Flay…”
I will note that I’m assuming you are productive at other times in your life, and that gaming isn’t preventing you from taking care of yourself.
Question: “Did you know that modern technology is the downfall of childhood innocence and cause people to become violent killer murderers?”
Tempting response: “That is not true! Statistics and actual respectable studies show that video games do not cause violent killer murders! And I saw a bunch of kids outside just the other day! I yelled at them to get off my lawn! Also, no killer murders were ever caused by video games. Studies show, man.”
Why it doesn’t work: Would you change your deeply held beliefs, which are based on feelings and not facts to begin with (don’t pretend to me like you have an objective perspective on the subject of your favourite hobby potentially killing kids), because somebody who is obviously biased is quoting statistics at you? Well, neither will they.
Appropriate response: “I’ve never been convinced of that, but if you’re not a fan of video games let’s talk about something else. Are you enjoying your new job?”
Maybe you were hoping I’d have some witty response that proves the legitimacy of being in your 30’s and obsessed with shooting digital zombies, but I don’t. I also don’t have any cutting remarks that will shame your mom into getting out of your room and letting you game in peace, and, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I don’t offer any actual arguments in favour of the gaming life. That’s because I don’t believe in defending your personal choices. Your time is yours, and you should spend it in the way you enjoy most, and fuck the people who don’t agree.
However, because we live in a society, we can’t actually tell our friends and family to fuck off when they are rude. Give a short courtesy response that acknowledges that you heard them but doesn’t address the underlying aggressiveness and criticism in the comment, and immediately change the subject. Keep it light, keep it friendly, and move the conversation right along to a safe topic.
The only exception is if the person criticizing the way you spend your time is actually responsible for you in some way, like if you have to move back in with your parents because you Warcrafted your way out of a job or something like that, but I’m giving you all the benefit of the doubt.