I realized recently that I’ve been saying “I’m not really into video games” quite a bit. Its not false, necessarily: I don’t own any consoles, I have a desktop computer that I never use, it has Steam on it with a few games that I never really played, I joined the Steam-on-linux beta through work, installed TF2, but still have yet to play it… I just don’t really get into it all that much. I can certainly understand games as fun, and especially as a means of social interaction. I had consoles growing up (Sega Genesis and an N64) and a step-brother to play with. However, that never really translated to playing solo, and with the lack of play time after my mom and step-dad’s divorce, I lost the feel for it and when I moved into the dorms for college, I never wound up playing in any of the nightly games of Mario Kart or Smash Brothers.
So yeah, it’s certainly true that I’m not all that into video games in the same sense that this article is talking about. However, I’ve been a part of several MUCKs and IRC channels that work in many of the same ways that MMORPGs work: one goes through the process of character creation and, in a much less formal way, builds up a guild of friends, amasses social currency, and so on. These were my games, and, much like in the article, that’s where a lot of my exploration of gender took place. These characters that I created were an extension of myself, and it was through these extensions that I was most easily able to think about gender as it pertained to myself, and to interact with others in such a way as to gain that ‘real life experience’ without being, as the author put it, a man in a dress.
So yeah, the “not really into video games” quote, while it still holds true in many ways, doesn’t totally apply, as I managed to find my own outlets, characters, and game-like experiences to help me figure things out. This is, I think, one of the biggest upsides to video games: the ability to tell a story that others can experience and immerse themselves within.