It’s only a game

There’s an old gaming chestnut I’d like to smash today. I’ll try to be brief.

Whenever I’ve been told “Dude, it’s only a game!” it’s always been by someone who just finished bullying me or one of my friends.

Yes, it’s a game. No, it’s not only a game.

By that argument it’s perfectly all right for some asshat to stomp all over my kid’s lovingly-built sand castle. It’s only a sand castle, right?

By that argument, it’s perfectly all right for some asshat to slash up the painting I’ve been working on. It’s only a hobby, right?

We are emotionally invested in these games. We’re supposed to be. If you’re not, and it’s “only a game” then why are you in there playing power games and what exactly are YOU trying to prove? The implied lack of emotional investment and involvement is something I find pretty disturbing, actually.

Why play games if you don’t care about what you’re doing there? Is there a point to playing a game where you have so little involvement and investment that you don’t actually care what happens there? Is that even a game?

It’s often a matter of nuance, too. There’s getting killed/bested in a game and being perfectly happy with the outcome (except you’ll do better next time), and then there’s getting killed/bested in a game by someone who then proceeds to tell you that you shouldn’t care, because it’s only a game. I never did get that attitude and I never will — to me it sounds like nothing so much as a cop-out. “I know I’m being an asshole and I know MY fun requires YOU to be upset, because that’s how I am, so I’m going to make sure it’s somehow all your fault because you can’t take a joke.”

Funnily enough, those people don’t respond well when you return the favour and tell them it’s only a game.

I’m not nearly close enough to Nirvana to have abandoned all attachment to material things, games included. My apologies if I care enough about my gaming to actually give a shit when I or my friends get bullied.

Note — this mini-rant isn’t prompted by anything in particular. I haven’t been bullied lately. But I decided years ago that I wasn’t going to stand for bullying and I was going to call bullies out on their behaviour. Sometimes you have to take a stand.