Blog Challenge #9: Explaining gaming to non-gamer Friends and Family

Challenge #9 is a hard one, it involves explaining your gamer hobby to a non-gamer friend or family member.

Well, much like what Cinder wrote in her reply, it all depends on the reactions of whomever I’m speaking with. I’m not going to waste my time regaling someone with the story of how my raid team downed some new bosses in Nighthold or that amazingly awesome Play of the Game I got in Overwatch, or what I did with Geralt of Rivia if they clearly don’t care or worse, are going to judge me for it.

Most people get that video games are a valid form of entertainment as much as reading or watching TV or movies are, and I’ve met very few people who don’t. So telling people that you enjoy playing video games is usually enough. Sure, you’ll get people who ask “oh which games” or something along those lines just to be polite, and rattling off a few titles or genres is usually more than enough to sate their desire for information. Usually at this point the only people who want more information are people who are also gamers and they either want to share experiences if it’s something you both play or get a perspective if it’s something they want to know more about. No muss, no fuss.

But sometimes you get someone who knows nothing and wants to press for more information. These kinds of people fall into two categories, in my experience. People who legit want to understand your hobby, and people who just want to make fun of you or judge you for it. The former requires you to come up with some sort of analogy to make them understand, the latter activates Snark mode and gets the full blast turned against them.

Generally for the former, it’s a simple matter of comparing it to an interactive movie, TV show, or book, and finding the right one of those to relate to them, and then if it’s a multiplayer game emphasize the social interaction. A lot of people in this category feel like there isn’t social interaction involved, and when you explain to them just how much there is that doesn’t involve screaming and insults, they tend to be more appreciative. This approach has worked very well for me in terms of enlightening a lot of non-gamer family members who are legitimately curious.


But then there’s the other side. The people who just want to belittle you for being a gamer, because they have preconceived and usually wildly incorrect assumptions about gaming and they want to unleash all of that at you for some reason. In that case, I will refute their points one by one, usually with a healthy degree of snark, which goes up or down depending on how much they are willing to hear what I say. This approach has more or less evolved out of trying to explain Dungeons and Dragons to my family. I come from a very conservative Christian family, and they all got exposed to idiocy of the D&D scare back when that was a thing. Needless to say when I started playing it in college with some friends, all the nonsense they “learned” suddenly started getting hurled at me. It’s all garbage, and my approach generally “works” the same for gaming. I say it “works” not that it convinces the person they’re wrong, because people get weirdly dug in with opinions, but usually others around will side with my arguments.

So that’s how I handle explaining gaming to non-gamer friends and family. It’s generally a fun and enjoyable experience, because I don’t really have anyone in my life that fits into the “belitting” category. I generally try not to associate with people like that if at all possible.  

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Cinder says:

    I’ve just come back from visiting my family who are lovely, but still don’t really “get’ the whole gaming thing, seeing it as a bit of a timer waster. The thing that got them to understand it was me saying “at the end of the day you sit down to watch tv. At the end of the day, I sit down a play games with other people. We’re spending the same amount of time doing this.” It was nice that they could understand that relation a bit better. Though I doubt they’ll ever get the whole raiding thing 😀


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