Has gaming become too serious a hobby?

Or rather, are we all taking it too seriously?

I’ve been wanting to write this article for a long time. You see, back when home consoles first appeared in people’s living rooms, they were a big deal. A brand new form of entertainment, right on your tv. Gone were the days of lugging a pocket filled with quarters to the nearest arcade for the chance to play 1 of 10 odd arcade machines. For the first time, people were able to play their games as long as they wanted, right in the comfort of their own homes.

Fast forward to some 30-some-odd years later, and gaming has become much more than that. In truth, I believe I know more people who play some form of video game than I do those who don’t. Gaming isn’t just a hobby anymore – it’s practically a lifestyle. “Gamers”, a relatively new term, refer to themselves thusly because playing video games is such an important part of their lives that they feel the need to label themselves as such. There are television channels devoted to them, websites that cater to them, and bars that are built for them. If you’ve got a bit of stage presence, you can even make money off of your hobby by becoming a Let’s Player on YouTube, essentially making videos of yourself playing and commenting on video games. But amidst this new culture, is there something that just seems off? Has gaming become too serious?

The Amiibo situation, as it is called by some, is what first led me to this idea. The scarcety with which these Nintendo-made toys appear on the market, coupled with the sheer number of scalpers that snatch up the products as soon as they are made available to the public is worrisome, to say the least. These days, there are entire websites devoted to alerting subscribers the moment an Amiibo is available for purchase, which is something of a necessity, as these toys often sell out within an hour of their release.

Another particularly chilling incident related to gaming was the bizarre and often disturbing backlash related to the announcement that Bayonetta 2, sequel to the cult classic game Bayonetta, was being released exclusively on the WiiU. Enraged fans took to Twitter, Youtube, and the comment section of virtually every web article related to the game with enraged comments such as: “Nintendo ****ing sucks, I better see a Xbox release in the future or I’ll kill you.”, “Platinum studio[s] is dead for me. Considering to cancel my MGRising pre-order too.”, And “How in the nine hells, a fast paced – combo driven game like Bayonetta, could be handled with a tablet device rip-off ??!!” Some gamers even took to making online suicide threats regarding the news, although as far as we know, none of these threats were ever carried out.

These two isolated incidents are but a fraction of the overwhelmingly far-reaching gaming sub-culture, but they both serve to substantiate my point. Gaming has become a far too serious hobby. We gamers, and I say “we” because I know I’m as guilty of it as anyone else, take something as simple and benign as playing video games and turn it into our entire way of life. I assume, if most gamers are like myself, they have rich, full lives, full of friends, family and a variety of other hobbies. Gaming isn’t the only pastime that defines them. And yet, when they hide behind that identity shielding computer monitor and take to the internet to voice their opinions, what they post time and time again are these sorts of life and death, over-reactionary comments. It’s almost as if we’ve let this simple hobby alter our very selves.

In writing this article, my intent wasn’t to make yet another “think before you post” message about internet usage. The problem is deeper than that. Before we think about what we post to the internet and how we interact with one another, we need to think about WHY we feel the need to react as we do in the first place. WHY do we NEED to collect every Amiibo? WHY do we NEED to respond to every bit of game-related news so the entire world can hear our voice, mixed in with the thousands of others to form the collective gamer consciousness? WHY is this hobby so important to us? When I was a child, gaming was such an innocent pastime for me. I’d like to think I’ve been able to retain a bit of that innocence as I grew into adulthood, as I often find myself falling in love with video game series both old and new with that same childlike wonder. But I never feel less innocent, less in love with this gaming hobby of mine, than I do when I see this sort of behavior. And it seems this behavior has only become more-and-more the norm as of late.

I don’t want to leave you with a lecture. As I said above, that was never my intent. I just want you to leave thinking about gaming, as whether you too feel we all might be taking it a bit too seriously. We can begin to affect change from there.

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Author: Lukas Termini View all posts by
An amateur game designer and lover of all things Nintendo, Lukas studied digital arts and 3d animation at the University of Tampa before graduating in 2013. If he isn't playing a video game, you can bet he's probably thinking about it.