In 1961 the minds at MIT unvieled a groundbreaking diagnostic program for the PDP-1 mainframe.Instead of churinging out mathmatical soloutions as evidence of a properly functioning processer, the program allowed the user to verify functionality by dogfighting an opponent in space. It was SpaceWar, and it was the first video game ever created.
A full fourty five years later, video gaming has grown into a ten billion dollar a year industry. The technology has grown exponentially, we’re in the fifith generation of consoles, and usage is prevalent among the general population. So why, after all of these years, am I still hesitant to admit in mixed company that I’m a gamer?
Fifteen years ago such an admission would be unthinkable. Videogames were the exclusive domain of adolescent males and social degenerates. To admit as an adult that you were spent eight hours on Saturday night making your final run at Hilter (Die, Allied Schweinhund!) in Wolfenstein 3D would have been a social debacle. Images would flow through the mind of your confidant. Images of you sitting in your mothers basement with your only company being the pale glow emmited by 16 frames per second of VGA graphics, images of your inevitable fate of being a 30 year old virgin, images of a person unclean. You, sir, would be a nerd.
Today, even though an estimated 43% of gamers are adults, this stigma still lives on. To admit that you’re a gamer, to some, is to admit that you waste valuable time on an unproductive, childish hobby. Yet, for some unexplainable reason, not an eye is batted if you spend your evening in front of the television in the throes of prime time ecstasy. It is more chic to passively wonder who America’s next Idol will be than to involve yourself in a stimulating, interactive, and – more often than not – cognitive video game experience.
In an age where videogames have overshadowed the film and television industry as entertainment king, we gamers are still, for the most part, a sadly persecuted lot. We contend with the eye rolling of mothers, the sighs of girlfriends, and the disparaging comments from elders. We have been mocked and ridiculed and deprived of our rightful place in the genetic pool for far too long.
We game because we love it, and we almost represent the majority.
I think it’s high time we come out of the basement.