A Virtual Reality- and not the Jamiroquai song
I have to confess—if ever we are ever hanging out, in a group or one on one, and any box that plays games is pulled out and plugged into the television, I will stand with my arms at my sides, head cocked to the right a little, with a blank look on my face.
Growing up, my parents would not let my brother and I play Nintendo. All I can remember them replying when I whined, “But, whyyyyyy” was something like, “Because there are other things you can do, and it’s too expensive.” True, Nintendo was expensive. But when “all my friends” (read: some people in my class) had one and knew how to play I just had to be part of it. At one point, there was a Nintendo-themed cartoon on Saturday mornings with Mario, Luigi, and the rest of the perky, animated gang. I would take the batteries out of the remote and use it as a pretend game console. Seriously. I pretended I was “playing” the cartoon.
One day I got a Nintendo Gameboy from my parents. It came with Tetris, but I also got another game with it, something that had to do with a pink bubble character. I first decided to master Tetris. I took my Gameboy everywhere to play Tetris. I can remember sitting on my front porch in the summer days thumbing the cross-shaped and two circular red buttons. I tried the other game a few times, but I had thrown out the instructions and grew frustrated when I couldn’t figure it out on my own.
Fast forward to today. My Gameboy sits in a box in my mom’s basement with Tetris still inside it. A used Playstation also sits connected to the TV in her basement that my brother borrowed from someone when his jaw was broken that I have never touched.
My boyfriend and his brother were practically raised with video games. He has tried to teach me some of his favourite online games that deal with enchanted forests and Lord of the Rings-looking creatures. It was fairly basic to learn, but I could have been more interested watching a plant grow. He argues it’s because I don’t use my imagination to enjoy it. I argue that after living a non-video game life, I much prefer interacting with real people and engaging in activities that develop my mind and make me happy.
“But you love reading fiction, they aren’t real characters,” he says.
“Yes, but I like being taken away to a fictional world and injecting my own feelings and experiences while reading in the sun or on the bus.”
I can see the similarities between what he likes about online/video games and my affection for fiction, but all must embrace that I am and not and never will be a fan of the virtual.
But hey, if someone finds it makes them particularly happy, then hold on and embrace it. But if you come out of this summer with a pasty complexion, a permanent butt mark on your couch, “gamer thumbs” and no memories to show but those between you and a screen, then shame on you for not finding the beauty in what is real.