Ten months ago I wrote an article about being a “newb” at video games. While my other geek credentials are worthy of praise, I neglected this chapter in the geek pantheon. I have a hundred excuses as to why, but none of them are valid. I was a young single mother. I had a career, a family, a failed marriage just to name a few.
I am checking my geek-ego at the door and humbling myself to admit that gaming is HARD. If you’ve been playing video games since the time you discovered your own opposable thumbs, then please feel free to have a laugh at my expense. You won’t be the first (or last). It is a constant struggle to master the most basic skills. I am dumbfounded by the amount of complex thoughts and motor skills simultaneously required to play a game. It’s mind-boggling and humiliating; those are the good days.
I had a choice. I could walk away and resign that this is one feather in my geek cap that I am not meant to possess. Or I could practice. Like every other project, I can always walk away until I’ve invested in it. Last week, I purchased my own console. I am taking it seriously. I am going to do this come hell or high water. What the heck am I thinking?
Every day I turn on that little black box and practice. I hide in the shadows where no one can see me; bedroom door locked, hunched lotus style on my bed with a pink controller in my hands, looking like a petulant teenager being punished for talking back. I run drills. Repetition is king and this is my castle. I see the signs of improvement… And then I try to apply those skills in live game play. Paging Dr. You-don’t-know-jack! Later, after much self-loathing, shouting words that my parents would be ashamed of me for using, and examining the empty bucket that once carried my dignity, I realized something profoundly simple, an epiphany like lightning shooting sideways across the eastern sky at sunset.
“I am not a duck. This is not a pond.”
All too often in my life, things came easily to me or perhaps I’m naturally adept at the things I enjoy. I became complacent, safely treading water in the deep end of the geek pond, but when the time came to swim, I quacked frustrated words and flapped useless wings, propelling myself in circles instead of moving forward meanwhile that vast geek pond became nothing more than a puddle into which I poured so many ideals. I’m still in over my head. A solitary duck splashing around a stagnant, muddy puddle of ill-fitting identity traits that I’m working to waddle out of.The muck is thick and my progress is slow, but a flock has been waiting for me all along, accepting of my pace even when I wasn’t, because they realized long before I did that I am not a duck, and this is not a pond.
I’m learning that geeks are solitary, lofty in their perceptions and egos, content to splash around in their own puddles, quick to identify themselves only as geeks. Gamers on the other hand prove to be extremely social, accepting and humble. They defy the labels and stereotypes that society hangs upon them and fly freely on wings forged of fire.
From the damaged youth made whole again by grace who yearns to help others find their footing down a safer path. To the girl who holds her own against men who tell her she doesn’t belong, she rises above it. To the soulful musician who hides from the darkness, never knowing that the darkness only appears to be all around him because his own light shines so brightly. Each is teaching me something valuable, inspiring me, taking me under the warmth of their wings, lighting a fire and encouraging me to take flight with them. I’m not a duck. I’m a phoenix. Why confine myself to a puddle when a limitless sky stretches before me?
I thought I needed to invest something into gaming to get something out of it. These amazing people invested in me, and I will take flight because they see me outside of the box I put myself in. Before you reach out to shove someone in the same mud the media has begun slinging, remember this. We are all so much more than the labels we identify with. We all burn out, we all fall into the mud… but we all can reignite and rise with the proper support. Gamers. Geeks. Human beings. We are unlimited. God made us to be so much more than merely how we see ourselves.
Melody Evans is a Social Media Manager for a family of healthcare companies and a freelance book review blogger for Up All Night Novels. When she’s not forgoing sleep in the endless pursuit of literary satisfaction, she can often be found diligently glued to her keyboard, seeking new outlets to express her love of all things geek chic.