Syl, of MMO Gypsy and Battle Bards (also a member of the esteemed group of podcasters that Couch Podtatoes calls home, TGEN) fame has called for another blogosphere event where members of our community come together to create an online Advent Calendar. Each day, two members of the ‘sphere will post their thoughts on gaming and community, and the entirety of the project will culminate with the Calendar, which you can view here. I was given December 3rd as my day to create the window dressing, and as such here is my post for Bloggy Xmas.
The early years of gaming were getting their start right around the same time I was born. There were video games before 1982, but my birth year saw the crash and almost demise of gaming as a whole. E.T. and Atari could be blamed, but those relics of the past are now for sale on eBay, and we all know that gaming did not go the way of the Dodo. My earliest memories of gaming were both console and computer based, be it on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or my father’s Atari ST, and I moved forward with a split interest throughout the years. I’ve always owned a console, and I’ve typically had a computer as well, though Atari doesn’t make them anymore, nor are they called IBM Compatibles, and my love for Nintendo waned right after the NES. Still, gaming has been a staple form of entertainment in my life for basically the entirety of it.
When I was young, I played games by myself. When I was a bit older, I had that community feeling via friends coming over to play, or I would venture to their houses for game time. It didn’t matter that I moved away and started school in a new town, I still managed to find the gamers in my area so I always had someone to play with, or a group to discuss gaming. These were the way things worked before the Internet became the culture changer that it is today. If you wanted to play or discuss games with others, you needed to have face time to do so.
The Internet Age
The Internet Age dawned in the mid 1990’s. I was an early adopter, but we still played/discussed games in the traditional face-to-face manner as well. Being a teenager at the time, I didn’t have free reign to the net, particularly because it would tie up the phone line (those pesky modems!). This meant console play and sharing TV space were still a premium, though I did manage to play Counter-Strike and Starcraft with friends over the Internet, usually at night when family wouldn’t be expecting phone calls. My community didn’t really grow at this point, it was still people I knew in real life that were the ones whom I’d game with over the net. We did have a new place to talk about games and whatever else was going on in our lives though, with web logs gaining popularity towards the end of the century. This new form of community was one that we all embraced, starting clans for various games and using discussion boards and blogs to communicate with people outside of our “real life” grasps. I still mostly played video games with friends, and most of the time we’d hang out with each other while doing so, but the other options were there when we couldn’t get together. Internet cafes starting cropping up as well, so we could go play on someone else’s machinery (that was typically better than what we had) and get better ping because they were all hooked together on a LAN. Many an hour was sunk here, with many different friends coming together to form groups and play games against each other. This wouldn’t last long though, as high speed internet was about to be available to nearly everyone, at an affordable price.
The Past Decade – To Today
The Internet has truly changed the way a community can work. The general definition of community is a grouping of people living in close proximity that have common values and goals. Generally speaking, the people in your neighborhood and small surrounding area are your community, as you all have a similar income level, are members of a family/have your own family, and generally want to see everyone succeed at living for lack of a better term. Not only has the Internet changed the way we interact with our immediate neighbors and community, but it has allowed people to form communities around common interests that may live in the next town, next state, or on the other side of the world. Also, as we age we tend to get more involved in our own families and less involved in the social circles we once held dear. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but most people get to a point in their lives where they no longer hang out with friends from high school, or even college. They focus on their own, and get further away from social events than they once enjoyed. That’s not to say that we’re all introverts or anti-social, but it seems to be the natural progression of life as an adult. Partying gives way to a career or a family or both.
With the Internet being the driving force in many of our lives, we keep up with news, gaming, social events and everything else via different channels streaming to your house via a series of cables or satellite signals. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you choose to look at it, but either way, this is the way life works in the 2010’s. I choose to look at it as a good thing, in that I can go literal months without going to a face-to-face social gathering but still feel like I belong to a group of peers. Not only do social networks like Facebook and Twitter keep me connected to people I know in “real life,” but they keep me informed of things that interest me, and keep me in touch with people from around the world who have similar interests. Gaming via the Internet also keeps us connected because we can play games together, and maintain relationships with people whom we might not ever meet face-to-face. Some may see that as a bad thing, in that we don’t have that same social connection without face time, but I see it as a way to maintain sanity in a life that would drive me crazy otherwise.
You see, I moved a few months back. Away from a place I lived for 15+ years, where everyone that I knew from old social circles lives. Away from anything I could remotely call a “life.” I am now in a position to make new social circles, but there were things to take care of first. In the interim, I have made friends with a large group of people from varying backgrounds and from around the world whom I do consider real friends. People that I would have never met were it not for gaming and community. My interest in gaming lead me to the point where I enjoyed writing about it, which lead to the discovery of the NBI which lead to the discovery of a slew of blogs that I didn’t know about, which lead to being involved in a community encompassing a vast number of people I didn’t know. I have gamed with many of you. I have argued with many of you. I have written with/about many of you. My podcast wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. This blog would still be relatively stagnant if it wasn’t for you. As much as I will say “don’t write for others, write for yourself” I still much prefer writing for you. Just knowing that people read my opinions and care enough to comment or write retorts on their own blogs makes me feel like I belong to something greater, and that’s been my goal for a long time. So thank you, dear readers, for making me feel like I belong. I owe it to you.
#bloggyxmas #community #gaming