Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

It’s About Communication

Posted by Rampant Coyote on August 20, 2013

We drive my daughter to college today. This makes no sense to me. I’m barely out of college myself, right? Right? I don’t know if I can even begin to comment on all the weird thoughts going through my head at this time.  But I guess I captured a lot of them a few months ago when she graduated from high school.  Now it’s all that, and a bunch more emotions ‘cuz she’s moving out. It’s a good thing, and a necessary thing, but it’s going to be weird as anything not having her around.

It’s funny, though. I keep meeting men a few years senior to me – grandparents, in some cases – and they are gamers. I guess I find that a little weird, but cool, as they came through the formative years without the benefit of arcades & video games. Well, okay, I guess they had pinball games and maybe early video games like Pong. But they didn’t really grow up gaming. They came in too early to be part of the Atari or Nintendo generations. But they are gaming now. I certainly don’t hold that against them – I think it’s awesome.

And why do they game?

So they can spend time with their kids, who have moved away. That seems more important to me on a day like today than it might have a few weeks ago.

It’s like sports – you know, how fathers and sons bond over sports. Except in this case, it’s World of Warcraft instead of baseball, and it’s armor set stats instead of batting averages. But while these guys are doing it primarily to do things with their kids, they are bona fide gamers. They’ll talk about how their guild is doing in the Team Fortress competitions, or their latest epic raids, or what they are constructing in Minecraft. It’s something they can do on a regular basis. It’s something they can share, and talk about. In real time, in team chat, as they want.

Their kids may have moved across the continent, but they’ve got virtual worlds where they can share the same foxhole. A cartoon avatar is no substitute for a real, live person in the room, but it’s better than nothing.  A twenty minute phone call is still great, but how about supplementing that with a few hours each week of shooting up zombies? That’s awesome sauce.

There’s this struggle that even I have to overcome sometimes when I think about what it is that I do. I “just” make games.

No, I’m not making the games that are bringing families together in these examples. Yet. I make little niche indie titles. So what? There are some dang cool, awesome, and absolutely *good* aspects of this medium, and I’m a happy participant, both as a creator and a gamer. And we have barely explored the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the potential for this medium.

Games can be mindless entertainment, subversive presentation of ideas, idle escapism, educational tools, solo pastimes, group activities, a means to keep in touch with old friends, a venue to meet new friends, means to open up new vistas and opportunities, distractions from life’s priorities, shallow, deep, cool, lame, intense, relaxing, poignant, dumb, or any combination of these things. Gaming is about communication… and fun.

I’m glad to be here.

Filed Under: Geek Life, Indie Evangelism - Comments: 3 Comments to Read

  • JT said,

    I have a brother who lives in China, and various friends and cousins who live scattered about, from London to California to Mexico City. For a number of years, we played D2 together. And after D2 came WoW. It was the glue that held us together. I wouldn’t see my brother for years and years in real life, but I would “see” and talk with him every night in Sanctuary, and later in Kalimdor. We’ve all moved on, now. We’ve let our subscriptions lapse, we’ve lost our Lord of Destruction install disks. Every now and then my bro and I will play some Torchlight 2, but the big group, the fellowship, is dissolved. And I most definitely feel the lack. I think there is something almost magical about finding that right game that can draw so many family members together, be it Diablo 2 (man, how much D2 have we all played together over the years), to Minecraft, to WoW. I love single-player RPGs, and they will always be my favorite, but even with that in mind I will always remember the Ulduar raids, the Baal runs, the leveling of hilarious wolf-man-druid and flame-thrower-sorceress teams through /players 8 hardcore D2 runs that ended in shame and defeat.

    And the cool thing is that it’s starting back up again now, only this time it’s mostly with my son. He’s still pretty small, a year and a half old, but he sits on my lap as I play TL2, pounding at the keyboard in delight as I drop a Thunder Locus and Infernal Collapse on a horde of baddies. Someday, he’ll be able to play alongside me. And maybe my brother will join in too, all the way in Shanghai but also right next to us.

  • ELH said,

    Another advantage of the artificial environment of games is that they cut through a lot of cultural and generational divides that would otherwise emerge in real gatherings. Put any two random members of my extended family (blood relatives and in-laws) in the same physical location, and the combination would be explosively volatile. The differences in lifestyle, politics, ethics, and family situations are just too large to bridge.

    But pretty much everyone can come together to agree that the Lich King is a bad egg in need of a good beating.

  • Xian said,

    I was one of those that grew up before the advent of video games, but even then I was an avid gamer. It was just a different form – backgammon, cribbage, canasta, many many other card and board games. In 1983 I bought an Atari 800 and I started getting into video games. That was a little after the time that my friends had graduated college and many got married, had job responsibilities, or just didn’t have the time for old style gaming. The computer let me play games without the need for an opponent.

    My son grew up playing games with me, but as he got older, we have developed different tastes. He is more into the twitch games, CoD and such or games he plays with his friends like Minecraft, League of Legends, or DOTA 2. I never was able to kindle an interest in RPGs with him.