by Gabriel Vasquez
I’ve spent my whole childhood gaming. I consider myself a full-scale gamer. Gaming has become my obsession and I don’t see myself ever stopping. On a weekday, I typically game as soon as I get home until about 11pm. On a weekend, I game all day unless I have to do something or go somewhere. I will literally play any game, though I prefer more action-oriented games.
Why do I game? Growing up in a city where it feels like violence could be around every corner makes me hesitant about going outside, or even talking to neighbors. It also gets boring at home, and there aren’t many things to do around the neighborhood.
Gaming keeps me from stressing. It gives me a release I feel I need. It keeps me from arguing with my family. When I spend hours in my room gaming, they check in on me once in a while. Gaming is really my getaway to another dimension. I see it as a form of art and I respect it. I’m drawn to action/adventure games. I feel like they help me get my anger out. If I wasn’t gaming as much, I think I’d probably just be sleeping or watching TV.
Virtually all of my gaming is online. With online gaming you can create a username for yourself, log all your achievements, save your progress and even play alongside other people. Though gaming can be done in a group, it’s often done in solitude and isolation.
Although it is a release, it has also taken a toll physically. When I go on a marathon gaming session, alone in my room eating nothing but junk food, I can start to feel pretty sick.
Online gaming also has other dark sides. I think gamers can easily forget they’re interacting with other real people and get lost in the fantasy of the game. I’ve heard more than my share of vulgar insults while gaming and I have to admit, I’ve given my share as well. It seems like people use online gaming to let out their aggression. More often than not, if you’re playing a game online you’re going to come across some crabby, mean and judgmental people. Sometimes I run across people that seem to just want to be obnoxious and insulting to others. Gamers call those people ‘trolls.’
Though I come across ‘trolls’ from time to time, I’ve also found very considerate and caring people while gaming. I’ve made friends with people I met gaming online. I even have a “family” online. We’re called the ILLEST family, and we all even have similar usernames (we call them gamertags) that usually start with ILLEST followed by a name that identifies us individually. Mine is ILLEST_PINOY.
I can sometimes come across locals while gaming. You can usually tell if someone is from Merced or around here from their gamertag; sometimes people show what region they are from by putting their area code to the front or at the end of their gamertag.
There’s even gamers that become celebrities. We call them ‘tubestars.’ These are gamers that create Youtube videos of themselves gaming. These videos can be tutorials on how to navigate a certain game, or of gamers displaying their skills. Some videos can rack up hundreds of thousands of views!
I love the gamer life. Despite some of the drawbacks, I feel like I’ll be involved in gaming culture forever.