"Mom, when are you gonna grow up?" As a Grandma and a Gamer? Probably Never, Dear
by Elizabeth T
This question was asked by my 33 year old son not long ago. My husband quipped, "Have you MET your mother?" Since this shut him up momentarily, (hard to do when he's on a roll), I answered quickly, "Never." The retort that had formed in his mind apparently shut down as his mouth closed, along with his eyes, and he just hung his head and shook it in resignation.
I'm a gamer. I'm 56 years old, I have 2 children and 7 grandchildren, a young husband whom I met while gaming, and a young outlook on life.
I play World of Warcraft, mostly, and have for just over 7 years. That's the clincher. My son, the father of 3, who will play Assassin's Creed for hours at a time wants me to "act my age". Yet, he has no understanding of why I play. In fact we've gotten into some pretty heated debates over it.
One of our debates has to do with the concept of my "friends" in the games I've played and the communities I was a part of.
It began over 15 years ago with the forums on the Lycos communities where I formed a storyline that was contributed to by many members of our particular community. When Lycos terminated it's communities we were devastated. My post had over 4000 replies contributing to a fantasy-based storyline. But, we did stay in contact for awhile. One member is still a friend to my daughter and I after all these years and we have met face to face.
Another game I played and co-wrote storyline for is a game called Sleuth: Noir. It's a much simpler style game, but there are guilds with private forums as well as the public forums for all players. I met a treasured friend there who collaborated with me on a very involved storyline in keeping with the spirit of the game we played. I even organized the first (and so far only), meeting of players. Eight of us showed up from across the country and had a blast. Unfortunately, I became to ill to continue, and there was never another meeting arranged. During this time I also played D&D. The DM played Sleuth and invited me to play with his group online.
I loved all those games and the Lycos Community, but mostly what I loved were the people I met.
They are what kept me playing and coming back. My daughter understands, even though she's never played any of the games, (and got too busy for communities with becoming the single mother of 4 daughters). My son is not so understanding. He says,
"You've never met these people you play with. You don't know them! How could you possibly know people you haven't met?"
I respond with,
"You have no clue! You only play first person shooter style games. You interact with your character, you quest, you fight, you win or lose. And you do it over and over and over again until you get it right and win the game. Then you're done. You wait for the next version to come out."
He will shrug and say,
"Well, yeah. That's how it supposed to be."
And I respond,
"I play because I have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who I might never ever have gotten the opportunity to meet."
(Like the wonderful young man from Turkey whom I met while playing Sleuth) I play because I have interaction with people whom I have gotten to know and love dearly as friends. So when he insists that 'You can't possibly know people you've never met!' I'll give the same answer I gave in a recent comment:
"I know these people, heart and soul. I may have never met them face to face, but I know them sometimes better than those who know them face to face in Real Life."
When we quest together, or run dungeons together, or just talk in chat, (or on Vent), we bond.
We bond partly because there is no "cover" on the book to judge.
There is no "race," there is no "sexual orientation," no too fat, too ugly, too nerdy, etc. Most of the time, there is no way to tell if a female or male character is in RL a male or a female, gay or straight, white, black, brown, red, or pink with purple polkadots. And, to be honest, most could care less! No one judges me because I'm fat and disabled in RL, they treat me as I treat them. With respect and caring. And when we quest and run dungeons or raids together we're a team.
Our Guild has become a family, a clan, a village. We win always. Whether we defeat the boss or finish the quest the first time, isn't the issue. Every time we get a little further, we all win. We rejoice in that success. It's something you don't see much of in the RL workplace. Or in RL at all, for that matter. In the game you can be SOMEBODY, even if you're nobody, (or feel that way), in Real Life. You quest and the quest giver refers to you as a Hero. You run a dungeon with others and win, you're ALL Heroes. You congratulate each other, you compliment each other on a job well done. Or, maybe you don't win, but your guild mates are not blaming each other for the failure, you're asking each other, "What should we have done differently?" "How can we plan better?" (Pugs - Pick Up Groups - are often another matter if you don't win)
I'm the GM for my guild. It stands for Guild Mother, rather than Guild Master.
I am Den Mother to over 400 members, which includes a lot of alts, ranging in age from 13ish, (3 teenagers total), to age 78. And my son wants to know when "I'm" going to grow up. ;) Most of our members range in the 30-40+ age category, with many of us in our 50's. We have Ventrilo, a website, and forums.
We enjoy ourselves and each others' company and are working hard to build a cohesive team for raiding, which some of our members have never done. But, we're a casual, laid-back, fun-loving guild. Yes, we want to raid, but we're not going to focus on it to the exclusion of all else and become what I jokingly refer to as "Rabid Raiders", (mentioned in a comment on another subject), we are probably not going to become a famous guild, either. That's not our focus. It's a game. We are playing to have fun and be with friends who are of like mind and soul.
"When ARE you going to grow up, Mom?"
... my son finally asks again. I reach up to gently caress my beloved son's face, "Probably never, Love.", I answer, shaking my head with a soft smile, "Probably never." He sighs, shaking his head in exasperation, then hugs me close, "I love you, Mom." I hug him back, tightly and whisper,
Originally Published Feb. 4th 2014
"I know, Dearheart. I love you, too."