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Play Video Games in Public Day

Come out of that basement to bask in the sun and ridicule, all for a good cause.

We’re at a crossroads, my friends.  Now is a critical time to set out to change the world’s attitudes towards our beloved video games. Even though we have to suffer through mainstream press articles about how big of a money maker Call of Duty is relative to Hollywood blockbusters, and even though everyone from toddlers to grandmas got pretty nuts about Angry Birds there for a while – gaming is still looked down upon.  As more and more people who grew up playing games stick with them as adults, our little hobby has been gaining more and more legitimacy, but it’s still not enough. 

Have you ever tried playing a video game in public?  Like at a restaurant or at your desk during a lunch break?  I don’t mean slyly either, using a tiny little browser window on your work computer, but whipping out that hulk of a PS Vita and digging in to Uncharted for a solid thirty minutes with earbuds in and your face aglow in the LCD’s light?  Chances are you haven’t.  I’ve tried here and there and man, it’s annoying.

The most egregious problem I’ve had is unmistakable mockery.  A co-worker seeing me at lunch mashing buttons on my DS spewed out a scornful “Seriously?” that was sort of irritating and a little embarrassing.  Even worse was someone asking me, “Is that a Gameboy?!” when I was settled in playing some sort of RPG.  I then had to relay a history of three generations of Nintendo handhelds to this person before I could get back to battling low-level dungeon critters.  After these two incidents, I still fire up a portable game here and there on a lunch break, but I’ve gotten pretty covert about it – turning my back to the hall and sort of hunkering down.  What a pain!

I’m not so sure I want to deal with scorn and asinine questions every day by playing in full view, but on occasion, I need to force myself to take that risk, and I think you should too.  It’s time we gave this activity an official day.  August 28th was this year’s fairly successful “Read Comics in Public Day” to try and raise awareness and legitimacy for that art form.  I propose we do likewise for video games with a “Play Video Games in Public Day” on October 1st. Why October 1st? It has a nice binary symmetry to it that reminds us of our hobby’s underpinnings. 

This is a very simple thing for you to participate in and you’ll feel like you’re making a difference just by doing something you love.  Have any sort of portable game system in the house?  Then bring that thing along with you to work, class, the gym, the bowling alley, the airport, the anywhere at all and fire it up in full view.  Sure, games on a smart phone are great, but we need to do our best to make it obvious that we are playing a game and not checking our facebook status, so portable systems are preferred.

Personally, I have a respectable job and work with people ages 23 to cretaceous and expect adverse reactions from everyone who will walk by.  Maybe you work with a bunch of dudes or ladies your same age who are also pretty into games, so playing your beat up NeoGeo Pocket won’t be a big deal.  Don’t let that keep you from showing solidarity with those of us who are oppressed and make sure you play too. 

Be prepared to answer questions and ignore sideways glances as you dig in to your portable game of the moment.  Remember that games have been called “murder simulators” and “kids’ toys” and try your best to convince everyone nearby that you are neither a murderer nor a child - unless you are a child, of course.  (If you are a murderer, please do not participate in “Play Video Games in Public Day.”) Be confident and be proud of what you’re doing – having a fun, interactive time that should be considered just as normal as sitting and reading a magazine.  So, get out there and show the world that anyone of any age and any circumstances can play video games.  It’s your duty to our grand and growing pastime.




09/20/2012 at 07:00 PM

Mmm, binary symmetry, nom nom nom. Your writings are always a pleasure to read Travis. Calling your older co-workers cretaceous lol, and my favorite of all, "If you're a murderer, please don't participate in Play Video Games in Public Day." You'll always get a two thumbs up from me.

I'm with you on Game in Public Day. I've never been to Japan but I've read in articles from gamers that being a gamer in Japan is really looked down upon strongly when you become an adult. People scoff at you if you get caught gaming on your bus ride to work or stuff like that. Some politicians over there and to some extent the non-gaming population seem to really rail on otaku in general, including the gamers. Some even go as far as to be anti-gaming, and they think it's ruining their country. That's silly.

I see people like that in America too, some who even go as far as to be anti-gaming. Do you ever listen to astrophysicist Dr. Neil Tyson's podcast Star Talk Radio? It's a mix of science, comedy, and pop culture podcast. I'm a huge fan of it, and not too long ago he had a gaming series where he talked a lot to Will Wright about game design and how games are percieved in America. He made some excellent points about how different the experience of gaming is between people who are actually playing, and the ones who are observing. People who are just watching a game will often only see action, violence, and explosions. Meanwhile the player who is interacting with the game is naturally using the scientific method to figure out how a game works, what the rules are, solve puzzles, survive situations, and play a game without really realzing they are using the scientific method and engaging is very complex problem solving. He also goes on to talk about Spore, Sims, Sim City, and lots of other awesome stuff.

You can find the first entry of that 2-part series here:

Advancing to the Next Level: The Science of Video Games - Part 1

Travis Hawks Senior Editor

09/20/2012 at 11:51 PM

Thanks, Michael!  I just downloaded both parts of that show and will try to listen to them on my commute.  Looking forward to it.

Jason Ross Senior Editor

09/20/2012 at 07:50 PM

I think I'll participate in this. I'm not sure what game I'll play, though.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

09/20/2012 at 07:59 PM

I vote Dragon Quest IX. I'll play that, and I'll try to talk my wife into it.

Joaquim Mira Media Manager

09/20/2012 at 11:02 PM

Time to bring out that Virtual Boy out of the closet.

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