Do you play a game you dare not admit to?
Just like books, games have a certain snobbery attached to them. For those of us in the know, there are specific types of games that are looked down upon and those that play them are pitied or mocked.
These games are the Twilights or Harry Potters of the gaming world. You play them secretly in a dark underground bunker just in case somebody pops round and catches you at it.
Of course there is a ton of debate as to exactly which games fall under this umbrella – everybody has different tastes, right?
Well, yes, sort of. But, like trainspotting, Solitaire is considered one of those unmentionables. If you nurse a secret addiction to Algerian Patience on Facebook or Spider Solitaire on your Windows desktop I’m willing to bet that you’d never admit that in company.
Imagine the scene: a group of gamers chilling out over some beer at the local and talking about their latest efforts in [insert cool game here] and you then confess to having spent eight straight hours trying to beat the computer at Hearts.
It will never, ever be cool.
And yet there are plenty of people that do enjoy a nice game of solitaire with a hot cup of tea, and they aren’t all wearing curlers in their hair or knitting a sweater either. In fact, one pleasant (and extremely anonymous) person that I chatted to when I was writing this piece said to me, “It’s funny because my partner will play Left4Dead for hours and that’s ok, but if we get into a fight about it he’ll openly sneer at my time spent playing Patience. It’s as if his gaming is an acceptable time sink but mine is not.”
Solitaire isn’t the only game to meet with an arched eyebrow and a pitying pat. What about Train Simulator? I’ll be brave and admit that I loved it. I spent hours and hours playing that game until a chance conversation at a gaming event had everyone stop talking and stare at me as if I’d grown an extra eye.
I succumbed to peer pressure and stopped playing pretty much immediately (not without a couple of sad glances at the case though). Still, at one point most of the games being released were sim titles of some shape or another so, as a reviewer, I got to play them all without the fear of being burned at the gamer stake. Obviously I pretended to hate every minute of it....
The Sims were also shrouded in this veil of shame at one point although it seems that later incarnations have seen it become a more universally accepted title. The more dedicated gamer is likely to be snorting into his caffeine at this point but overall the comments on gaming sites are a little less patronising when referring to the Sims nowadays. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that Train Sim may still be considered dodgy.
Another title that was thrown my way during my investigations was Flight Simulator. Yes, I’m aware that I’m still lurking in the sim genre but this one I simply had to raise. I’m definitely one of those gamers who looks at fans of Flight Sim and goes, “What? Seriously??”.
I understand that it’s got every airport in the world including Barack Obama’s personal landing strip but what on earth could be the attraction of sitting in your chair for the (wait for it) same length of time as the actual flight itself? Then you get there and fly somewhere else. You don’t, as I would expect after such a long wait, get out and have someone hand you a beach and a Mai Tai.
Age of Empires, during its giddy heyday was also considered something of a no-no in gaming circles. While the fan base tried not to take it too personally, FPS lovers would stalk them at events and menace them in dark corners. Usually it was best to keep it all a bit quiet.
Interestingly World of Warcraft has actually become the King of the Game with Shame in spite of being one of the most popular games on the planet. Talking about it in any circle gets you looks of dismay (oh, God an addict), pity (play a real game weirdo!) and fear (he isn’t going to go all Jehovah’s Witness on me, is he?). You can kind of see where it came from but it still takes me by surprise when I realise how far the mantle of WoW has fallen.
What about you? What games have I completely missed out on that you believe fit neatly into this category? Why not admit your little gaming secret while you’re at it, after all if we all confess to one tiny little lapse in taste then perhaps we’ll be more accepting.