Trying to explain gaming to a non-gamer is kind of like of trying to explain Australian vocabulary to an American.
Yes, suss is a real word.
“Sif” is a legitimate expression. And response. And retort.
No one actually uses the word “shrimp”, and never in conjunction with “the barbie”.
Mum: “Get off the computer and go play with your friends”
Me: “I am playing with my friends!”
Gaming, and online gaming in particular, has always been surrounded by negative connotations. The pasty white nerd, living in the parents’ basement. This was certainly helped along by the South Park episode, Make Love, not Warcraft (of which the clip above is from). And though most of us gamers are self-professed nerds, over 5 million nerds who currently Play World of Warcraft is a LOT of nerds you wouldn’t want to be messing with… if we weren’t all too busy saving the world of Azeroth from Illidan…
The Lich King…
Archimonde! Yes, that one.
But seriously. There’s many kinds of games, but they all give us a feeling that we’re achieving something great, and sharing that achievement with others. That we’re contributing to something bigger than ourselves, or experiencing something epic and amazing. And it’s not just contributing something pretend to a digital world – though it can be. It can be contributing to a community based around the game – helping others get a better, more rewarding experience out of the game. Or entertaining people through stories, artwork, music, and yes even blogging. Gaming creates a sphere of collaboration and creativity, community and friendships. And it’s not just the gamers. Unlike recording studios when you use their music in your youtube video (possibly “time of your life” in your graduation video or slideshow), game creators actively encourage and enable the use and reuse of their games in creative contexts, such as fan art and machinima competitions. (For an excellent example of Machinima, watch this).
On this topic I particularly like the TED talk by Jane McGonigal. In her talk, she says games can give us the things we can’t get in real life. Positive feedback for what we achieve in the game, even if it’s small. (do you think I get sparkles and fireworks when I clean up someone else’s mess at home? NO!) There’s always a challenge we can do, and when we fail the first time, we know we can just get back up and try again. And not only that, there are other people who are willing to help you achieve your goals.