So there I was, on an airplane, minding my own business, playing Plants vs. Zombies on my iPad, when a flight attendant, peering over my shoulder, said, “Oh that’s so cute! Is that for your kid?”
Now, I have long ago made my peace with the fact that lots of folks don’t “get” video games. Or that they think they’re just for kids. I admit that, in public settings like an airplane, I still occasionally feel a twinge of sheepishness while playing a game, which is why I always carry an emergency backup copy of The Economist or the New York Times, in case I need to pretend that I actually know how to read. Sometimes I need to fit into the adult world, however unpleasant that tends to be, and so I try to be prepared, when necessary, to act my age as it is traditionally understood. For example, when my wife and I were at Target the other day, I refrained from screaming “I WANT THE NEW MARIO BROS GAME!” and then laying on the floor of the store and having a tantrum until she let me buy it. One learns to adapt.
Still, I do feel that here in 2013, it’s about time that the “video games are for kids” thing dies a final and complete death. I mean, we know they’re not. For one, the video game audience itself is aging. We’re not too far away from being at a point where the only people left alive — not to be too grim about it — will have grown up in the age of video games. Second, we know, thanks in large part to the rise of mobile gaming, that more older folks today are dabbling in the pastime, demystifying it for the previously bewildered.
But the question I was asked on the plane is still very common. If you’re playing a video game in public, you are still potentially drawing attention to yourself as a mentally and emotionally stunted adult, even while folks all around you are playing Sudoku or Solitaire, reading trashy novels, or surreptitiously picking their noses. It is not considered a dignified pastime, when, in truth, no pastime is really “better” than any other. How one chooses to waste one’s time really doesn’t matter. Yet here I am, being all defensive again. It’s so totally annoying.
And this is why I’ve decided, as of today, that the next time someone comments when I’m playing a game in public, and questions my maturity, I am going to scream “I AM NOT A KID!” at the top of my lungs and then punch them in the head. It’s about time gamers were taken seriously. I encourage you all to follow my example.