The Guilt of Gaming
For as long as I can remember, Gaming has been an escape for me. Its been my outlet when dealing with stress, but also a way to comfort me in my loneliness. I grew up an only child and didn't have very many cousins around my age, so video games it was! I'd like to say that gaming was my first true "friend". I would sit for hours and hours playing my favorite games by myself, diving into a virtual world where I knew I wouldn't be judged or criticized for my nerdiness or had to try and "fit in". Gaming has continued to fulfill me in this way all the way up through now in my adulthood. I love it. It calms me, it makes me happy, and provides a space where I can be myself and exercise my brain by solving problems and socializing with people who have similar interests.
As I entered adulthood and life became more real and difficult during and after college, I started to reflect on the way my identity as a gamer impacted those around me and their perception of me. You see, when you're not surrounded by other gamers (especially Black Women gamers in my case), those people don't understand what the gamer life entails. They don't understand the staying up to 6:00 am playing your favorite games, or watching complete strangers recording themselves playing your favorite games and interacting in a chat with even more strangers. They don't get spending hundreds of dollars on your favorite game systems when they premiere, or spending thousands of dollars on proper equipment so you can even stream or record yourself. This misunderstanding led me to start feeling guilty and ashamed for something that I loved so dearly! And don't get me wrong, my friends and family are great people, but some of them just don't really understand gaming culture and what goes into it. People often think of gaming as a waste of time, wasting your brain, and laziness, when in fact its the complete opposite. I can attribute a large amount of my problem solving skills to playing games such as Tomb Raider, Crash Bandicoot, and even Super Mario. Video games sharpen our hand-eye coordination (see here) and force you to think outside of the box and be creative in the ways that you beat each level.
You see, being a brown girl gamer growing up meant you were a part of something rare and unheard of. Playing/developing video games weren't exactly "encouraged" or "expected" of us. Luckily, I had parents who knew I loved video games and supported me in that. But when you don't have that community where you can discuss all things gaming with other people who identify similarly as you and just automatically "Get it", the guilt and isolation starts to set in (at least it did in my case). Now that i'm an adult and have have a full time job ( #responsibilities (-__- ), the guilt started to creep back up again as people make unsettling comments about being "too busy" to play games or that its childish, etc.
By no means am I calling folks out or shaming other peoples hobbies. I'm just saying that gaming is valid for us Brown girls. Its important to find communities where you can express your love for gaming with people dealing with similar issues as yourself. The guilt of gaming is real.
My point in saying all this is...don't let people make you feel guilty when it comes to doing things you love, such as gaming. What people fail to realize, is that your journey is not their journey and they don't need to understand what gaming means to you! I used to feel obligated to explain myself and why I loved games so much because of this guilt but... to hell with that. People don't know what gaming does for you and that's okay. Maybe playing for long hours at a time helps me think more clearly, or come up with ideas for a business or work, or maybe I have really bad social anxiety and this is how I cope. Whatever the reason may be, you don't owe anyone an explanation.
Happy Gaming, Yall!