The Way of the Nerd: A Polemic
I am a Gamer. Why does that sentence feel like an admission of guilt or the gunshot that leads to social suicide for so many people? Probably because very few people hesitate to tell me that gaming does nothing for me, that I?m wasting my time talking to strangers, making worthless money in an online world, becoming socially inept, and that I won?t be able to put my video game experience down on a job application. The truth is that gamers are subject to a harsh stereotype that many don?t hesitate to bring up, probably because it?s a social norm nowadays, and these few examples all seem to stem from the personal character stereotypes that gamers are subjected too.
First off, take a moment to create an image of a gamer. What gender are they? How do they look? How do they act? What is their social life like? Chances are, you probably did that with ease and are ready to continue. Before we do, ask yourself how you feel profiling a gamer? Take this time to think of a stereotype for an African- American, for an Asian, for a Mexican, for an Immigrant. Do you feel a hint of guilt when you do so? Odds are that you didn?t feel uncomfortable profiling me, or any other gamer out there, so that in its-self should say something.
My mom used to ask me to get off the computer and do something productive with my time in middle school. I was playing a game called Runescape about 3 hours a day, and all day on weekends. Thing was that I was doing something productive with my time; I just didn?t know it. I had an empire set up. My friends from down the street and I set up a business of ?merching? coal, buying it by the hundreds for 25 coins a piece, and selling it for 35 coins a piece in different locations, far away from the mine. I was 12, but I was running a business, calculating time and effort involved in transporting goods, running cost-benefit analyses, hiring miners to do my work, and tracking all this through a spreadsheet to ensure I wasn?t being cheated out of my money.
What exactly is wrong here? Am I being anti-social while I build up my empire of workers and slowly monopolize the coal market? Depends on what your definition of ?anti-social? is. As a middle school student, there isn?t much you can do besides go over to your friends? house after school and on weekends, so how much was I truly missing out on? Unfortunately, I went on vacation that summer and was away for a month, and I came back to find my coal empire crippled, and my knowledge of the game outdated. What I did learn through playing an online game with millions of other kids (and undoubtedly older individuals) was that the study of economics in a system took months to set up, and businesses often had to make decisions that upset customers, such as raising prices. The result of this would be the loss of buyers and an increased risk of competition from those who believed they could set up a system more efficient than mine. After all that time setting up a network of workers, managers, and executive officers, it only took a month to lose all loyalty and understanding of the system. It would be hard to argue that this game taught me nothing about running a business.
I got my first xbox when I was in 9th grade. The online aspect that let me play with friends and random people I?ve met on the Internet, all while talking with them through a microphone. It was at this point when I started to spend the majority of my free time playing video games, be it by myself, with friends over, or by talking with them over xbox, and about the same time when my parents started throwing around the term ?addicted.? Luckily, I played soccer year-round and was doing very well in school, so there wasn?t much they could hold over my head. Let?s take a second to address that statement: my parents wanted me to stop playing xbox as much, even though I had good grades, exercised intensively, almost daily, and