So, the other day I was visiting my mother, half-listening to a conversation between her and some of her matronly friends. One of them mentioned that their nephew had a real gaming addiction.
That perked me right up. Gaming? Was this going to turn into one of those “Dungeons and Dragons is of the devil” conversations? I began to salivate. (I love those. As a fantasy author, a lifelong D&D player, AND a university graduate school trainee in the fine art of argument, I can make some noise on these topics. Good times.) Just as I was ready to pounce, however, she mentioned that her nephew kept driving to Vegas and blowing all of his money at the tables, and it was turning into a serious issue.
Oh. Right. Gambling. People used to refer to that as ‘gaming’, right? They have the “Nevada Gaming Commission” to regulate casinos, after all. So, if the guy’s blowing all of his money on gambling, yeah, that’s probably an issue his aunt can complain about. I deflated quietly and turned back to my computer, somewhat let down.
It occurs to me, however, that we really need a better term for all of this. “Gamer” never really was all that distinctive. Ask people on the street what it means, and you’re probably going to a lot of replies about video games, perhaps some about gambling. I have a sister in law who always says “Hey, you guys want to play some games?” In her context, it means the types of games with cards and dice.
I kind of cringe whenever she asks that, since—for some reason I can’t explain—I just don’t like card games. (Note: there is one shining exception to this, and that’s Magic: the Gathering, for which I have a voracious hunger. I can never get enough of those silly little cards. Must. Have. More.)
Anyway, gamer among my crowd means role playing gamer. To others, I’d assume it means one who plays tabletop games, like Heroclicks or old-school Warhammer. To some of you reading this, you have no clue what ANY of these things are, and probably think gaming refers to playing a nice round of kick-ball. (Also, you’d probably rather we stay off your lawn.)
On one aspect, I wonder why I like some of this and not others. Why is it that I dislike playing a game of cards when I go crazy for Magic? Why would I rather be punched in the face than be forced to play Heroclicks or Pirates of the Spanish whatsit, yet I enjoy role playing as a pirate? (Of course, to some, ‘role playing’ is used a corporate sense, where one is forced to play act some sort of situation that might happen at work. Dang. There’s another vague term.)
Regardless, it seems to me that we have a problem here. The fact of the matter is that as people in our society have more and more free time to blow on hobbies, and as traditionally nerdy things like video games become more and more mainstream (Read: Halo effect) the once innocent term “Gaming” has become far to confusing. And so, I decided to try a few suggested options:
Jockouching: As in, “Yo, I’m going to go grab some pizzas and go jockouching with Biff and Bart.” This one is for the guys who play video games, but who don’t consider yourselves nerdy in any other way—and would be offended at the implication that you’re doing anything other than being cool and manly. (I would have thrown the word beer into it too—jockcoubeering—but, well, we wouldn’t want you to strain yourselves.)
Haloing: As in, “Time for the lan party! What do you mean, what are we going to play? There are other games? Never heard of them.” This is for all you wonderful folks who started playing video games and having lan parties about ten years late—say, around the arrival of a certain console game that is now in its third installment.
PonyOrcing: As in, “Ooh, those shoulders would go GREAT with my cloak!” This one is for all you female MMO players who love World of Warcraft or Everquest for the sheer cuteness factor of having some massive orc you can dress up in matching outfits.
Val’zeb-droxing: As in, “Tonight I shall be playing my wizard cleric as we val’zeb-drox that module.” The term ‘role playing’ just doesn’t work; we need something that is all our own. Why not use a made up word that sounds cool that nobody can pronounce but us, with plenty of redundant punctuation marks. Brilliant!
Gambling: Yeah. Since when are these games? They’re more “Here, why don’t you pay us money so that we can . . . hey, look at the flashing lights! What were we doing again? Oh, right, you were giving us more money to give you. . .hey, look at that chick in skimpy clothing!”
Brandondoesntwantoplayyoursillycardgame-justgivehimsomeMagiccardsinsteading: Uh, yeah. You can figure this one.
I’m running out of steam, so I’ll stop before I hurt myself. Anyway, I’m sure you could come up with some of your own. I’m too lazy to do so—I have to go get my character sheet ready to send off to my brother so he can play Sinethar (yeah, my dual class elf wizard cleric) for me while I’m on book tour.
Maybe we should just go with “Nerding” on that one. . . .