Candied, crushed sago't gulaman
Eject the term “mom’s basement” from your dialogues. No matter how joking or true it may be, being reminded of that pejorative can still sting. Dependence isn’t something to be ridiculed. Everyone has their own date of liftoff, and some of them aren’t quite there yet. Besides, everyone knows consoles and high-end desktops perform better in cooler environments. Living in a muggy apartment in the heart of metropolis on a fresh graduate’s salary doesn’t allow for creature comforts such as constant air-conditioning, you plebeian. In a properly cooled and ventilated subterrain, the lifespan of a desktop PC will last twice, maybe even thrice, as long. But of course, that’s discounting the technology depreciation, which will hit systems sooner than physical wear and tear. Of course. Everyone knows that. God.
Did they just call you a plebeian? Be indignant and call them out on it. They’re sorry, they didn’t mean it. Sometimes, they just say things, you know? How can they make it up to you? Sharply sigh and tell them to forget it. Help them understand that you don’t normally say those things in public, to friends and polite company. They’re sorry, again. They’ll never do it again, they promise.
Understand why they react so extremely when discussing their hobby. Reconsider escapist tendencies as an acceptable character flaw. Your gamer has been through a lot. They’ve seen too much too quickly in their too young lives. Allow yourself to intimate the silent ridicule, the physical confrontations, the embarrassing social faux pas that they have endured and committed. Learn to acknowledge the solace they have found in playing their video games. You might find your center in books, in interaction, in nightly excursions and revelries. But your gamer likes the quiet of the surrounding and the pounding of headphones clasped against the head. Their coping mechanism is a Rube Goldberg machine of pipelines, firefights, and sorcery– this is their domain.
Sometimes, most times, they cannot help but protect their pastime from perceived threats, such as attractive people showing interest in the Legends and Fantasies and Gears they hold dear. Theirs is an entitlement they feel deserved, but is misplaced. Never be afraid to remind them they are being a dick. Awaken them from their post-traumatic reverie and help them realize that the status quo has shifted, that the world has changed. Help them loosen their stranglehold on their beloved medium and teach them to share it with the world at large.
Do not comment on the state of their neck scruff. They understand, more than anyone, that beards shouldn’t just predominate below the jaw. Not one day goes that they don’t stand in front of a mirror and lament the discrepancy between their baby-smooth chins and the rough frontier on their neck. If you do make light of it, do it gently. Follow your jibe up with a playful tickle in their grizzle and an offering of Chicken McNuggets. They are not kidding about the McNuggets.
While they may be initially averse to the idea, invite them to social gatherings with like-minded people. Understand that not everyone will thrive in the pulse of a club, or in the hushed dealings of a bar. Consider a small space with great potential for debate. A book club. A listening party. Wherever there’s a fountain of Mountain Dew. Lead and they will follow, because opportunities to frolic outside pixelized confines come few and far between. When outside, make introductions for them then leave them to their own devices. In the right environment with the right people, they will do well on their own. Be on guard when somebody brings up the topic of video games as art. Restrain your gamer by locking your arms around theirs and over the neck. Apologize to the proprietors when you get the chance.
Be willing to stay in and enjoy the games they play. Suspend judgment when they show enthusiasm for titles of questionable name and content such as Beyond the Beyond: Way Past the Far Out or Euro Truck Simulator 2: Toujour Changeants. Who knows, those might have a really great storyline? Relish the all too rare twinkle in their eyes as they boast of their favorite video game moments. They watch you, you know, as you play– their hearts on their sleeves and their souls on the screen, displayed for you to either praise or destroy. As you clack away with your controllers and attempt to capture an enemy listening post, learn to take the good with the bad–they might be a combative, grumpy lot, but you will never meet anyone with less artifice, who are so blindingly honest about what they love.
[Header photo by Kellbot.]