I don’t wear a tie to the office every day, but it doesn’t make any difference. I’m still a suit. We may leave our collars unbuttoned, but we can’t pretend to work for some ultracool technostartup. I play a professional in the office, a role I’ve played for some years now.
The trouble is the longer you play this role, the more it becomes you. You pat yourself on the back, telling yourself you’ve simply grown up, but it’s like the Princess and the Pea: despite all the comforts afforded, you still feel an unnerving dissatisfaction that something is not right. Whenever I travel back in time to meet myself, as is customary every Christmas Eve, HM-past is always shocked at how average I am, he became. But this sharing and comparing goes both ways. I can’t believe how immature HM-past is, to the point of embarrassment.
Tap Repeatedly drags out a BBC report on gamers lining up overnight for Halo: Reach. Unwittingly, these Halo enthusiasts have run into the open talons of a media that likes to cast them as sadcases who think some new game is more inspiring than something that you can really get worked up about like, say, entry to a Wimbledon game. If only the BBC had found some cosplay folks to jeer at, the drag queens of the gaming community, helping to typecast our special underclass. Don’t worry, the television tells you, you’re not as sad as your average WOO! WOO! gamer.
Part of me shakes my head in disdain. I’m a professional who plays games, not one of those people. At work, I rarely mention PC gaming in case it undermines my professional façade. Even the company firewall hates my secret pastime, blocking me from Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer and numerous other gaming sites. And so it gets worse; watching the BBC footage I feel like I’ve been co-opted into bashing other gamers who are just excited about a game. Losers. How dare they make gamers look bad. How am I ever going to step out of the closet if these guys allow the cameras to misuse them?
Someone at my workplace took a day off work to pick up a copy of GTA IV on its launch date. He didn’t hide the fact. There was certainly some shaking of heads but nothing untoward happened. He wasn’t fired over it. He kept doing his job. His salary was unaffected. The sun rose in the morning as usual, I checked that. But still, I’ve been running Electron Dance for 5 months, yet this significant undertaking is not something I feel like sharing with co-workers.
So I’m the problem after all. Gaming is more ubiquitous than it has ever been. Kent Sutherland’s grandma plays Dr. Mario 64. iPhones everywhere carry games. Wii turned home gaming into a mini-workout. Games now bring in more money than God. And not to forget, more than the Devil too.
Who cares what a few people do on the TV? Alan Titchmarsh didn’t bring about the end of games as we know it with his disgraceful performance. Neither will a few happy people queuing up for a game, who come off a lot better in comparison.
But my unbuttoned collar still feels a little too tight.