Oliver's Story - Into the Great Wide Virtual Open

A Gamer Story by Oliver Rind

It was much later in my youth that I integrated into the culture of video gaming. To put it one way, I’ve received a citizenship among the society of gamers. My friends, however, you might say were permanent residents, to begin with. They are avid gamers and have been that way ever since their parents gifted them the Nintendo 64 back in the late nineties.

I felt like an outcast for most of my life when it came to gaming—and I still do to some extent. Imagine a Viking longhouse. A fire is burning in the middle with a rotisserie boar slow roasting, while others tear away at the haunches. On each end of the long tables sit the bearded warriors, regaling each other in adventures, slaying beasts, and being victors of quests. Imagine hearing it in their native tongue as a bystander, a foreigner. This was me, envious of these great things that were done, and yet I couldn’t understand a word, because I never indulged as they did in the thrills of entering another world, another place, another body. I wanted to learn their language, join them in their quests, see what they saw, and experience what they experienced—and so I began gaming.

Particularly, I fell in love with open world games, like Skyrim or Fallout, where you could be anyone and do anything. In the real world, I’d like to think of myself as a good upstanding and law-abiding citizen, but in the gaming world, what’s stopping me from being the villain that the villagers fear? Traveling to these worlds was a way to explore the imagination and someone who I wasn’t. I believe gaming is like a well-written book if done right, can transport you like a lucid dream into another place entirely, and actually make you forget for a moment (or hours) that you’re a twenty-five-year-old copywriter.

This was why gaming became a growing interest and is now a part of my life. In an open world game whether it is multiplayer or solo, it’s an escape. It began for me as a means to connect with my friends. I wanted to join them, be able to engage in their interests, and in the process enjoy a temporary leave from the real responsibilities of the world. I suppose you could say I didn’t want to be alone. It isn’t an uncommon story for an introvert to be more social than the clubbing extrovert, neither is it uncommon to hear that gaming is becoming more and more prevalent as a pastime in the younger generation.

There is an argument to be made about gaming as well as social interactions becoming the new norm in everyday life. Logging on to talk to friends on the gaming-centric chat service known as Discord, for example, which is what I do, is as easy as dialing a number, if not easier. It’s what certainly brought my friends and I closer over the years, perhaps even the reason why I maintained a friendship with them. What I feel most parents see is their child sitting alone in a room, when in fact they’re somewhere entirely, with all of their friends, and proving far less the recluse that the stigma suggests.

Gamers aren’t what they’ve been let out to seem; I learned that first hand. The more I spent time among this subculture, the more I learned that within both realms—real and virtual—gamers are a community, a people that have their own societies, cultures, and even laws, and it’s wonderful.