Those of you who know me well, know that I love many forms of nerdery. An essential part of the subculture of “nerdom” is the multifaceted world of video games. From role playing games to first person shooters in the next gen gaming world, to the emerging world of classic gaming that has inundated the market and grown in popularity in the past few years, video games are everywhere.
When I was growing up in the late 80’s, I experienced a less than welcoming introduction to video games. Like many of you out there my first video game system was the NES. As a young child the simple design and game mechanics of playing on the NES was an endorphin inducing experience. It was fun to play, and that is why, years later, people still play it. My personal experiences affected my opinions and that is not a reflection of the system, more so a reflection of myself.
Playing alone was fun, but in my childhood I rarely played video games alone because I have an older sister. Let me start by saying that I love the relationship that I have with my sister as an adult, but being the younger sister has its disadvantages. My sister was always trying to “one up” me and friendly competition is harmless but things would get ugly. Yelling, screaming, and throwing of controllers were commonplace. So much so, that I was eventually restricted from playing with her at all, sorry Mom.
However, the fighting wasn’t the main deterrent from getting a chance to organically fall in love with the concept of gaming. It was the frustration that I felt always loosing. I know that hand eye coordination is something that is learned. I also understand that without powering through the learning phase to get to a place where the joy returns, you have to put in the effort in to improve. Truth be told, I never had the motivation and to this day I still don’t.
I know most people are thinking that it’s a silly thing to discount all video games because I was forced to play as Luigi my entire childhood. In fact, in recent years, there are some games I have tried to play that I have actually enjoyed. I find myself gravitating primarily to role playing games that require planning and problem solving more so than hand eye coordination. However even my interest in these games is short lived. I eventually get to a place where I have to invest more than the time I want to invest in them, and just stop playing.
My boyfriend on the other hand, is the exact opposite side of the gaming spectrum and loves all things gaming. In fact most of my video game exposure in recent years has been with him as he grinds to advance his characters in the various games he enjoys. When I first met him years ago, I discovered that he has nearly every game system that has been invented, some that were only released in Japan. It was refreshing to meet someone that had a true appreciation for the art of gaming, yet still I wasn’t able to reignite the enjoyment of playing.
I feel like many gamers out there play for the love of the endorphin release in their brains when they accomplish whatever task in the game they are playing. To this day, I don’t know if that part of my brain is broken, or if it was just something that I never acquired. However struggling to improve at something that you really don’t get that much enjoyment out of, is just not appealing to me. I was always more into reading and other forms of art, because I lack the competitive pride that you feel when you win. It just doesn’t affect me that way.
So button mashing is more my style and I know people who truly appreciate gaming, HATE a gamer such as myself for one main reason. When you button mash, you lose the integral part of the gaming experience, the actual skill. I have never actively avoided playing a video game, and I would play more with my boyfriend if I actually enjoyed it, even if I lost every time. This however rarely happens because I am honest with my friends who love gaming and they understand that is just who I am.
So yes I am a button masher, and I’m proud of it. I get more enjoyment out of watching others play than I do picking up a controller myself. Not just because of my past experiences, but because I have tried and found things I enjoy more to spend my time and energy experiencing. For all the nerdy button mashers out there, stand proud in your solidarity. I know how you feel. You have the right to enjoy video gaming culture without the enjoyment of actually playing. So mash away and have fun irritating anyone who actively tries to play legitimately in Street Fighter.