Embracing the Unloved: Genre Gaming

Sep 10, 2014

Recently, a couple friends and I met up at a local 24-hour diner. This isn’t uncommon, as we are all into our 30s and have no interest in going to bars. We know the servers and they know us. It’s a relaxing setting where we sip coffee, sometimes order food, and talk about what’s going on in our lives and the world around us. Video games are a common discussion and I would be comfortable in saying that is what we discuss the most. We talk about the games we are playing, what we have played and remember fondly or not so fondly, and titles looming over the horizon. When the question was thrown my way, I told the group that I was currently only playing Diablo 3. That wasn’t a complete lie, but I did leave out Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Sims 4. Why did I omit those titles? We all have gaming friends who stick to set genres and don’t really understand the appeal in those types of games.

I wish I could discuss the experiences I’ve had in some of these titles but it’s just not going to happen. I’ve tried to explain it to them in the past, but am always met with confused and blank stares. “So, you just drive cargo from one point to another?” one might say. I would respond, excitedly, “Yeah, but you have to take into account multiple factors of when they want it delivered by, how tired the driver is, and is the route going to provide any challenges along the way.” The vigor in my voice slowly drains as I see the lost expressions not once changing. This is why I don’t even bring these games up. I know the interest is just not there, and lose the resolve in trying to justify my enjoyment in playing them. Despite sounding bitter, I understand there are just certain things we should avoid talking about. Almost like politics or religion.

The same can be said with me and MOBAs or sports titles. I get that people like them and they are hugely popular, but I’m just not interested. When Madden or DOTA 2 come up on podcasts I listen to I don’t fast forward the show. I listen to the host and co-hosts talk about the games and remind myself that no matter how pumped they sound, I’m not going to enjoy it. Occasionally, a new title comes along that’s labeled as the game to play if you’ve never been interested in those games before. Awesomenauts is one that comes to mind. I played it for a few hours, got the basic feel of the game, and lost interest. The characters and environments were charming and the core gameplay was much more streamlined than other games in the battle arena genre, but I didn’t care for it. I did play a few rounds with friends and that seemed to help. In the end, I was having fun playing a game with friends, but not the game itself. If an Awesomenauts singleplayer 2D side-scroller were ever to come out, I would be all over that.

Despite our differences in what we enjoy playing, I think we all have to do a better job respecting one another’s gaming preferences. Video games are very special. Those of us who partake in this hobby know how deep and emotional these titles can go, but, at the same time, can also offer quick and mindless fun. I bet everyone knows at least one person who likes to dabble in gaming and swipe their fingers across their mobile devices in a quick round or two of Candy Crush Saga or Threes. I’m positive we all know at least a few gamers who annually purchase the new Call of Duty or Madden title and little to nothing else. The important part of those examples is not what they are playing, but that they are gaming.

One of the worst things we do is label each other. Casual, Hardcore, Retro, and the list can go on. I say just leave it as Gamers. Let’s embrace that and stand tall under that title. We should love the fact that more people are now gaming in some form or another than ever before. Let’s respect each other’s choices in what we enjoy playing. Let someone who plays a particular genre explain to you why they love those types of games, and then do the same. Nobody’s saying you need to drop what you’re playing and give it a go, but maybe you can learn something about that genre that would make you interested in trying something new. There’s nothing better than sitting down with your friends and talking about the games you love. Let’s stop trying to divide each other into sub-categories. We are gamers…and that is awesome.