Welcome to Gaming
An introduction and guide to
the world of video games and gaming culture
written for the non-gamer
Welcome to the Game!
Welcome to the world of the gamer! There are a myriad of reasons to pick up a book like this. Perhaps you have an important person, a family member, a girlfriend or a spouse, in whose life video games play a central role, and you want to share it with them. Maybe you have friends who consider themselves gamers and you want “in” but have no earthly idea where to start. Perhaps you are a concerned parent whose child seems swept up in a world you know nothing about, building sky castles in Minecraft, shooting aliens on distant worlds, and collaborating with people from who knows where that you have never met. It could be you think gaming is dangerous, deadly, or just morally degenerate and are looking to understand why it is so widespread. Or maybe you picked up a controller or keyboard to game for the first time and you fell in love and want more.
Whatever reasons for you embarking on this journey, welcome! This book was written for you. The world of the modern gamer is a fascinating and fun place, but one that, for many people, is as foreign as the moon and just as hard to begin exploring. This book is designed to be a stepping off point, a springboard to help you dive in and learn what this “Gaming” thing is all about. Whether you want to start gaming yourself, or simply wish to understand this rapidly growing world, hopefully you will find something that will help you here.
The first and most important thing we are going to do is discuss what it is to be a gamer. Then we will talk about how gaming is done and what a variety of kinds of games there are. We will introduce you to the idea of gaming literacy and get you some knowledge and skills you will need if you would like to try gaming yourself! Once you know these basics we can then move on to the myriad of social, moral, practical and philosophical topics and issues that surround gaming. There is a lot to take in here and a lot to learn. But there is also a lot to explore and enjoy. There is community and fun to be found here as well as difficulty and challenges. I encourage you to approach this expecting to be surprised. Gaming is more than a hobby for millions of people. It is a lifestyle and part of a personal identity. Be curious, and respectful, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember you are a guest, but between you and me, you are one that has been invited in.
So with that in mind, for whatever reason you sought out this world, come and see what gaming is all about! And may I be the first to say, welcome to the game!
A Note To my fellow gamers
Hey guys! While you are not the people this book was primarily written for, I know that many of you will be very interested to read it. And I hope you do! But you are also the readers about which I am most anxious. You, my fellow gamers geeks and nerds, are the source of so much of what is here, and you will also be its most vocal and accurate critics. If there is one thing above all others, that I know about nerds and gamers, it is that we are an opinionated lot! That’s why I wrote all of this in the first place! I fully anticipate that there will be those of you who respond to what you read with every reaction ranging from mild amusement, and “um..actually” style corrections, to irritated intricate critique, or even pure Super Sayian hair dying rage.
I do want to let you all know, right up front, that while I will be doing my very best to present Gamer culture as broadly and correctly as I possibly can, this book is simply me describing my own experience of being a gamer. It can be nothing more. And thanks to the ever shifting, cyclopeanly angled geometry of the nerd world, I guarantee you there is something I have failed to perceive perfectly, misunderstood, misquoted, left out completely, or simply gotten wrong. And that is not even considering the places where my actual opinions may differ from yours!
It is scary to attempt to communicate the whole of one’s culture in a single volume. Much less one as misunderstood, vilified, complicated, and unprecedented as gamer culture! So here is where I am going to ask for just a bit of slack. My goal is to do some good, draw some parents closer to their kids, help some spouses understand one another, and to widen the breadth of the gaming world! I don’t expect this will be a flawless masterpiece, and even if it was, I am sure it would still have its own hate thread on Reedit.
So, here we go! I’m going to make some of you mad! But here’s hoping it is relatively few. And if we get lucky, maybe many many more of us find that our friends and family understand us and our world just a little bit better!