Game changing

For gamers, like me, today is a landmark day in gaming.  Today is the launch of Grand Theft Auto V.

It’s been described as one of the biggest game releases of the decade and cost something ridiculous like £170m to develop!  I read today that it’s ‘as much a cultural event as it is a videogame’ with shops opening at midnight to sell it to the queuing masses, and people up and down the country taking the day off or calling in sick to play it.

I am excited to the point of wetting myself.  I can’t lie.  Luckily I have the joy of working all day and having to wait until late this evening to play it. 

Yay! (sarcasm).

A couple of days ago I was having a discussion with one of the guys at work about this game and he asked if I was taking the day off.  I told him that I usually do when a GTA game is released (because who is productive on a day like this?) but unfortunately I don’t have enough holiday entitlement left this year to allow myself this luxury.

It was at this point that one of the women we work with meerkated (yes, I’ve made it a verb) her head over her computer screen and proceeded to snort derisively, calling me a “saddo”.  She then proceeded to tell me that when I have kids (which I don’t) I won’t have time (which I do) to play videogames. 

But I’m assuming I WILL have time to change nappies, lose sleep, stink of baby sick, haemorrhage money and overdose on patronisingly painful children’s TV?

This got me thinking about the attitudes I’ve had from non gamers throughout my life.

Non gamers are quite narrow minded in my experience.  Oh, and they’re usually women.

In fact, this morning I was having a conversation on Facebook about GTAV and one of my female friends piped in with “relax boys, it’s just a game”.  I swear they still think we sit in a dark room playing PacMan and Space Invaders.  Just because their only exposure to ‘gaming’ is Candy Crush or some generic bubble shooting shit, they believe that all games are pretty much the same; simple and easy to pick up and play with.

Just like women.

Oh sorry, was that rude?  Am I stereotyping or belittling?  Am I making massive uninformed and ignorant assumptions?

No; I’m making a point.  I’ve taken the time to understand that there are many different types of ‘game’ out there. 

Some are dull, some are colourful but boring, some are interesting, some are scary, some are exciting, some are more difficult than others, some are too easy and not challenging enough, some are unpredictable and some are just downright amazing.  Those are the ones you keep hold of and NEVER trade in.

This all depends on how the ‘game’ was developed; who had input and influence in the programming, and sometimes how long it actually took to develop.  I don’t just assume that all games are the same simply based on the shit I’ve been exposed to.  That would be unbelievably short sighted and retarded.

The thing is, gaming has been around for decades and over that time it has just gotten better and better and better.  I remember my first Binatone back in the early 80’s with games like Pong and, well…Pong.  This was followed by my Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum+2, Commodore Amiga 500, Amiga 1500, Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), Sony Playstation, Playstation 2 and now my Xbox360 and Playstation 3 (although I mostly use the PS3 for BluRays to be honest). 

Over that time I have witnessed an evolution in games the likes of which these judgemental jockstraps haven’t seen.

The gaming industry is now bigger than Hollywood with budgets to match.  You’re not considered a ‘saddo’ for watching a film, but you are if you indulge in an interactive experience that can now rival the biggest celluloid blockbusters. 

At least with gaming your brain cells and reflexes are kept sharp with puzzles and challenges.  In fact, the very first time I skidded my car in the rain I instinctively knew to turn INTO the skid.  This actually stopped me spinning out and may have saved my life.

More recently I had the opportunity to fly a £10m flight simulator and the controls weren’t that dissimilar, which made it a lot easier and impressed our instructor.

I learnt all that through gaming.

Whereas watching a movie involves just staring at a screen….and eating.

Now, considering Pong came out in the early 70’s it’s safe to say that gamers have grown up alongside the technology, growing and developing alongside some of the most amazing innovations in entertainment.  I once read that the average gamer now is approximately 34yrs old which would explain the 18 certificate games that now exist.  Think about it.

So it seems I am considered a ‘saddo’ for wanting to take a day off to play a monumental game that has taken over 5 years to develop, has a budget of £170m, creates an immersive experience with a deeply thought out plot culminating in different outcomes depending on how I interact with it and creates a sense of wellbeing and joy through sheer and undiluted entertainment. 

And yet if I take the day off to sit on a sofa and watch 22 men run around a field kicking a small leather ball whilst wearing the same colour as my friends, just to see if these overpaid pansies (who I’ll probably never meet and who couldn’t give a squishy shit about me) manage to win a cup that has nothing to do with me, then I’m considered ‘a proper man’.

Gaming is social, entertaining, educational, thought provoking and interactive.  It can invoke emotions like fear, excitement, anger and happiness.  It can create real moments of adrenaline pumping tension one minute and have you laughing out loud the next, but most of all gaming is fun.

Can the same be said for some of the dumb ‘reality TV’ shit on television nowadays?

Game Over.

evolution

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