It’s slowly been happening, over the course of the last year and a half. Gradually, my weekend trips to the gaming shop my boyfriend and I frequent have become more work and less play. At first, I thought I was just being annoyed by some of the people who go there, but it’s not that. Disturbingly, it seems I’ve lost interest in playing many of the games I used to enjoy.
When I had my laptop with me at the shop, I could use it as a “shield” from all the bothersome conversations; I didn’t have to sit there thinking, “Do we REALLY have to spend 5 hours doing nothing but discussing new Magic cards? Do we REALLY need a long and involved discussion over dinner about the new HeroClix set?” I could surf the Internet in relative peace, doing what I really wanted to do (blogging, Facebook, surfing sites I never get to see over dialup), instead of being immersed in this gaming culture that I increasingly felt outclassed in. Now that my laptop baby is in the shop (and has been for almost two months), the situation’s scabbed top layer has peeled back, revealing a deep resentment and no small amount of anger about it.
My frustration with gaming (and my apparent loss of interest in it) is frightening and strange to me. This is an activity I used to enjoy greatly with friends and my boyfriend–in fact, my boyfriend and I bonded over HeroClix and Magic. Now, I find it useless to even play anymore; I know what’s going to happen as soon as I choose one of my Magic decks and he chooses one of his. It seems pointless to play. Same with HeroClix…I feel like I don’t have enough mental energy for the strategy required anymore, and even if I did, everyone would be using all the new “hot” figures and I’d be swept off the board before 5 rounds had passed.
It’s like I’ve lost my gaming mojo. Pardon the Austin-Powers-ism, but there it is. This activity, which I used to take such pride in and such pleasure in, is now almost worthless to me. I’ve suffered depression enough times in my life to know that “loss of interest in favorite activities” is a hallmark, but I don’t feel depressed in any other aspect of my life. Just gaming.
Since I at least have a passing knowledge of psychology, I sought to delve into this problem, and I came up with a few possible explanations for this:
- I am female and the rest of the gaming crew is male
- The current gaming crew is more cutthroat and competitive than my old gaming crew
- Every weekend, I have to “share” my boyfriend with these competitive guys and I get almost no quality time with him
- The old gaming crew has splintered apart, with most of them becoming competitive jerks like the current crew
- With all the new expansion sets coming out in both games, I feel beaten before I even begin a game
- I don’t feel like I’m friends with anybody in the current gaming crew
- I can’t be my whole self with any of the current gaming crew because no one there cares about my writing, my music, my church activities, etc.
Let’s delve into each of these reasons, just a bit.
I am female and the rest of the gaming crew is male
I am bewildered at how much this bugs me. It never used to–I always got along better with guys than girls when I was growing up, and I never was particularly “girly” in terms of fashion and gossip. But I am an adult woman now, an adult woman with very few female friends left in my home state, and I find myself suddenly more isolated from “girl talk” than I realized. Most of my female friends have already “grown up”; gotten married, had babies, gotten jobs, etc. And here I am, still playing in the sandbox with the boys. The boys might be okay with a girl in their midst, but I increasingly feel that it’s not “my place” anymore, as bad as I want it to be. What began as a great way to spend my Saturdays is now the worst day of the week because I don’t feel like I fit in.
The current gaming crew is more cutthroat and competitive than my old gaming crew
When our old gaming shop closed, it seems, the old casual gaming crew went with it–we all went our separate ways for a few years. In the interim, we began attending a shop in another county, another city, with all new players. All was well and good for my boyfriend, who has a great love for games and blends in well with the other players because he knows rules better than anyone else. I, however, did not feel as though I had a place, because my casual style of play was simply outclassed by the competitive styles preferred by the “new” crew. I don’t like 5-turn defeats and alpha strikes, but I’m forced to play against these types of strategies just to ward off the painful boredom of sitting and watching.
Every weekend, I have to “share” my boyfriend with the new competitive crew and I get almost no quality time with him
This is a pretty big beef I have. We’ve been going out 3 1/2 years, and some Saturdays I feel more like a glorified taxi driving him up to the shop rather than an active participant once I get there. He tries to engage me in games, but more often than not he’s called away from our game to answer a rules question in another game, or he ends up talking strategy or new expansion sets with some of the other guys and it leaves me completely out. I feel like I have to “share” my boyfriend with everyone else on Saturdays, when I barely get any real quality time with him during his crazy-busy work week or on Sundays, and it leaves me feeling cheated. It’s hard to even bring this up with him because I feel like if I complain, then I’m being a typical whiny girlfriend and yanking him away from time with his friends, which I know he needs. But if I don’t complain, then it looks like I’m perfectly happy with the arrangement, which is not the case at all.
The old gaming crew has splintered apart, with most of them becoming competitive jerks like the current crew
I used to love playing with the old crew because we just HAD FUN–we weren’t trying to one-up each other all the time, or win money, or gain any kind of prestige. Now, at least 2 of our former number are always talking “best strategies to win tournaments” and playing like they’re in competitions all the time instead of playing against friends. There’s only one of the old crew I still even talk to like a friend anymore, because the others have become strangers to me. We all grew apart, I guess, and I find myself more nostalgic and wistful for what has been lost rather than trying to build anything new, because it just won’t compare.
With all the new expansion sets coming out in both games, I feel beaten before I even begin a game
I don’t play Standard format in Magic, and I don’t play Modern Age in HeroClix. Most of my cards and figures come from Vintage format and Golden Age…which singles me out among the players at the new shop. My strategies, therefore, don’t match up to a lot of the “new hotness” that is being produced by both game companies. I’m not drooling over the latest 13-attack Clix figure, nor do I care about the latest monstrous Infect creature that’s starring in all the Poison Counter Magic decks. I just want to play MY strategies, the ones I made up MYSELF, not something I got off the internet. But my strategies are not good enough to beat Tier 1 strategies, and like I said, I feel beaten before I even begin a game these days.
I don’t feel like I’m friends with anybody in the current gaming crew
Because I have withdrawn from the current crew’s gaming scene, I feel like I can’t get close to anyone. I desperately would like to make friends with them, even just to chat about random stuff, but no one seems to bother with talking about anything that doesn’t have to do with competitive Magic or HeroClix, etc. I feel hamstrung; I don’t always WANT to talk about gaming stuff because it’s become a smaller and smaller portion of my life, but what do I have in common with these guys otherwise?
I can’t be my whole self with any of the current gaming crew because no one there cares about my writing, my music, my church activities, etc.
I am much more than the sum of my games. But you’d never know that if you saw me at the gaming shop. I feel unable to talk about anything but games (see previous subheading), even though I have tentatively tried to broach other topics a few times. I have tried to share my poetry, my music, my church activities, the fact that I’m writing a novel, and tons more stuff about me, but no one seems interested. My forum threads are stillborn; no one is interested in me, and thus, I find myself less and less interested in them. How can I enjoy myself if I’m limited to talking about (or more often, listening to) stuff I don’t find interesting anymore?
A Kind of Summary
One thing’s for sure, this loss of interest in gaming goes much deeper than just hatred of a particular shop, a particular player, or how the games have evolved. It seems as if my very identity is shaken by this. I used to identify myself as a “gamer girl.” Now, I find myself wondering if I even want that label anymore. According to this very blog article, many things have changed in this situation, including myself, and…I am now at a crossroads. I’m sure I’m not the only female to find herself in this situation, but I am powerless to do much about it except write.
Perhaps, by writing this and getting some of these poisonous feelings out, I can find a way to either renew my interest in gaming or withdraw from it completely. After all, gaming is not life…at least, not for me anymore.