Why Do You Game?

I’m super excited to welcome a guest to the blog for this week’s post. The following was submitted by Tshaddz, a fellow WoW-loving PvPer, on his thoughts about gaming and why it is that he games.

“Why do you game?” This is a question I am asked far too many times by friends, family and significant others, usually with a negative connotation. More often than not, I answer them with a simple: “Because it’s fun and my hobby.”

Is that really the answer though? Is there an underlying reason that I don’t bother to explain because I’m hiding from the truth? Or maybe I don’t bother explaining because I know they still won’t get it?

Before I jump in to answer why I game and why online gaming has become so popular, let me tell a little about myself. I am a 29-year-old man with an amazing girlfriend with whom I live, an ex-wife, a beautiful daughter and great career. All fairly normal things for someone my age, but that’s only part of my life.

I’ve been an avid gamer since I was about 5 years old, even though I grew up in a generation where playing games – especially MMOs like WoW, Asheron’s Call, or Everquest – was not socially acceptable. I’m on the older side of what most will consider the appropriate age for video games now, and I’m looked down on it just like I was in high school and college.

That’s how society is: Full of people who need to make you feel worse about yourself so that they can feel better about themselves. Games like WoW allow an escape. You log in to a world where things like race, body type, religion, gender and age simply don’t matter. There are no first impressions and no way to be judged without getting to know someone.

Things are much easier through anonymity. Imagine growing up and being picked on or made fun of because you were a little overweight or couldn’t necessarily afford the best clothes. This type of bullying and harassment can make you feel paranoid; like you’re constantly being judged in public. I suffer from tremendous social anxiety because I feel like people are constantly judging me based off of how I look or what I’m wearing or who I’m with to the point where I hate going out a lot unless it’s with people I have known for awhile. But humans are naturally social beings and games like World of Warcraft allow many people like me a means to feed their need for social interaction or escape to a world where they can be themselves without being mocked or ridiculed on a daily basis.

Of course this argument will always be met with: “Is it a healthy escape?”

Like dieting and many things in life, it’s good in moderation and it’s important to recognize when we are using games to help cope with things in our life or when we are using games to hide from it. Online games are very easy to get lost in. We have all fallen victim to the days where we look at the clock and realize 8 hours have passed since we logged in and started playing.

Why are these games so easy to get lost in? For some people they are simply fun and enjoyable ways to pass the time. But these aren’t the ones I’m talking about. For people like me, it’s so much more than a game. It’s an entire social experience. It’s a world where I’m free to be myself and talk about what I want to talk about with a good chance of finding others who share my interests. I’m already logged in to a virtual world with them. Right away I have that one thing in common and because of that any guards I may put up in the real world are immediately down.

That combined with the fact that I‘m communicating via an avatar means you’re getting to know me for who I truly am. How many relationships could we have had but didn’t end up talking to someone because of how they looked, dressed or who they were with?

This trend of online communication is not just present in games; it’s becoming the norm. Years ago you were criticized and looked down upon for meeting people in chat rooms. Now you can’t surf the web for 10 minutes without coming across a new dating site. I myself even met my girlfriend via eHarmony. If not for communicating online I probably would have never met or even talked to her. The most addicting thing about these online venues is not the fantasy of being someone we want to be but more about BEING OURSELVES WITHOUT BEING JUDGED.

Recently I thought about giving up gaming because I felt that there was something missing. Sure the games were fun, but a lot of people that I gamed with moved on to play other things or were taking breaks. No one I knew in real life gamed or even wanted to try gaming. Most even look at it with disdain.

I felt alone; like I had this passion for something I love and no one to share it with. It was then that I realized it isn’t necessarily about “the game” but the social interactions and friendships that were formed along the way. Logging into WoW was the same as going out to a bar or just hanging with friends.

I didn’t want to give up on my hobby and passion so I turned to YouTube and decided I was going to try my hand at making some videos. It was a way I could continue to share what I loved with others who would appreciate it, and if I got a few views and made some friends then great.

But what I got was something I never expected. I now sit with almost 2,000 subscribers that comment on my videos send me mail and ask me questions. I hear many YouTubers refer to their subscribers as fans but I consider them friends and peers. I finally found my community that not only allows me to share my passion with so many others but allows me to give back and be appreciated for it, something I never thought I could find just by gaming.

Do we play games to hide and get away? Sure, we all have our days where we just want to get lost in a world and forget about our stresses and problems. But for most it is a chance for us to finally be true to ourselves and interact with a community that shares the same interests and passions. It’s a chance to be judged by our personalities and accomplishments rather than how we look or what we wear or any other superficial first impressions someone may make before getting to know you. There is a real world outside of Warcraft and I am not advocating ignoring it, but the next time you are put down or criticized for being a gamer know you are being who you want to be; you’re being true to yourself and not trying to conform to what others think you should be.
-Tshaddz

TShaddz plays a Feral Druid on Darkspear-US and his focus is primarily on Druid videos. I had the opportunity to BG alongside Tshaddz a few weeks ago and it was nothing but fun fun fun! You can visit and subscribe to Tshaddz’ youtube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/Tshaddz or follow him on Twitter here: @Tshaddz

We all game for different reasons and I’d love to hear why it is that you game. Feel free to shoot me an email!

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One Response
  1. Wils says:

    I game because its better than watching tv. Its FAR better than housework, although when one runs out of clothes one does have to wash them. I game because I have made friends there. I like being able to lvl my toons. I feel like I am doing something constructive instead of feeling like an idiot amongst the kids in my college classes. I also game because its just plain old fun. My router died two days ago and I can’t stand not being able to play, but that indicates my addiction. I guess my pleasure centers in my brain feel the need to PVP again.

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