Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.
I find that my family, and my gaming group too, are anomalies in the wider gaming world. We do not, generally, play video games. They’re just not what we’re interested in doing. A few of our friends do play video games of various sorts, but they rarely talk to us about them because they know we don’t have a frame of reference. My husband has a handful of games he plays on his computer (mostly emulators of older games), I have a few light games I play on my tablet (the usual suspects, except I’m about ten years behind the world). We own a Wii. Not a Wii U, or whatever the most recent Nintendo console is, but the ten (or maybe more) year old technology. And we’re happy with that. Where it gets weird is in every day conversations. I have found that outside the gamer world video games have earned a wider reaching social acceptability than other game forms. The typical conversation will go this way:
Other Person: What do you do for fun?
Me: We play a lot of games.
Other Person (very excited): Oh yeah? What system do you own?
Me: We play a house rule version of the FATE system when we RPG and a large variety of board games
Other Person (disappointed and half-hearted): Oh. What’s an RPG?
Sometimes once I explain to them what an RPG is they’re interested, at least enough for it to be a conversation point. Other times I get a negative response, as though there is something wrong with me for not having an updated gaming console. Worse are those who seem to think I’m somehow depriving Yog of an essential life experience by not sitting her in front of a video game.
I’m not against video games. I’m not even against age appropriate games for kids. All in moderation of course.
I’m too much of a social creature for video games to satisfy me. Even if I’m sitting next to another player I still feel isolated staring at the screen instead of being able to look at my partner. My other reason for not getting into video games could be debunked by someone who knows more than me – it seems like the style that I’m most attracted to, the kind that is a video game RPG, will take hours, actually days, to complete. I have such a busy schedule that it would literally take me years to finish one game. In that amount of time a new console will have come out. It feels very much like my Netflix queue where I’m still catching up on shows from the early 90’s while new content I want to see is piling up. I would rather spend my time in a room with multiple people moving a story forward in a fairly quick manner. That’s my personal preference though.
There’s also the expense. I feel like for the price of the console and a single game I could purchase two or three board games that I share with my friends. That has more value for me. Again, not knocking anyone else’s choices, it’s your money and you need to spend it in a way that makes you happy. If playing video games is that happiness, awesome. It’s just not my happiness.
So I stick with my board games, RPGs and LARPS. Now here’s the rub – due to my busy schedule and the conflicts of my gaming group’s individual schedules it takes us years to get through a ten session RPG. And yes, I get that I just said two paragraphs ago that it would take me too long to get through one video game. Which is part of the reason I needed to branch out from my core group. It’s easier for me to block out an entire weekend than it is to find an hour or two each week. And while I could do that for a video game, I just don’t have the interest in doing so. I love our games. I love my groups. I love collaborative story telling. It’s probably what drew me to the world of improv.
So back to the video games. This is an area in which I am knowledge deficient. And I’m all right with that. I’m also knowledge deficient in miniature and collectible card games. The thing that amazes me is that no one looks at me funny when I say I don’t know anything about those games. Ok. Not “no one”. Non-gamers who have no idea what I’m talking about might look at me funny. But those same people look at me funny for not owning a gaming console. It seems to be all right for me to say “I suck at building decks, so I avoid deck building games”, but odd for me to say “I suck at using controllers in general so I avoid video games”.
So maybe non-gamers just like making faces at me. I’m used to it at this point in my life.
Maybe my lack of knowledge is keeping me out of the hobby too. If I knew more about the options out there in console design and game options, maybe I’d be more into it. But sometimes ignorance is bliss. I truly have so many hobbies that I’ve forgotten more past times than I engage in.
I guess my frustration is in the public perception. I feel that 1) outside of the gaming community when I say I’m a “gamer” it is assumed I play video games and I consider myself much more well-rounded than that and 2) video gamers think I’m depriving my kid of some sort of life necessity. I’m not against Yog playing video games. We just don’t have many in the house, nor do I think they are “necessary”. We have other forms of entertainment we engage in. I think I just want the general public to be more aware that there is more to the gaming world than video games and not all board games are Candy Land and Monopoly (not that there’s anything wrong with liking those games if you do).
We don’t consider ourselves or Yog to be deprived. We are the people who hold up one end of the curve that skews the average. And we’re ok with that.
Until next month, Happy Gaming! Video or otherwise.