Finding Yours

I have a friend that loves to make wide, sweeping generalizations that, to him, are pure fact free from conjecture or idiocy. To me, these proclaimed absolutes exemplify the fact that he’s never taken a statistics class because they’re all based on a sample size of two, usually either out of ignorance or laziness. When we talk about good actors in bad movies, he says “everyone’s allowed one!” When we talk about people’s quirks, he says “everybody’s a little crazy!”

All right, that last one may be closer to the truth than his other declarations, but the fact remains that he has little evidence for saying so. There is one of his statements, though—and this isn’t really his at all as I’m sure you’ve heard it before—that I find to be a rather stout theory if nothing else: there’s something for everyone.

If I were to really ponder it, I can think of at least one thing of every particular form of art, genre of performance, type of sport, or what have you that I can appreciate. I’m not one for abstract art, but something in Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket by James Abbott McNeill Whistler really speaks to me. I don’t especially like dance movies, but Step Up 3 somehow strikes a very specific chord in me where the ridiculousness, the spectacle, and the suspension of disbelief bloom into harmony.

I’m sure if you were to think about it, you could find something redeeming in every leisurely activity you’ve previously admonished, too. In fact, as a theory, it stands that I think this applies to everyone and everything.

Including video games.

I don’t mean to argue whether or not video games can be art, but that doesn’t mean that they in their entirety or certain aspects of them can’t be appreciated like they are. When broken down into discrete components, it’s easy to lump each facet into categories that could easily appeal to certain people. Dance, art, music, fighting, shooting, or whatever; there’s something somewhere that can speak to you.

The problem is finding it. Just because you like music doesn’t necessarily that rhythm games will jive particularly well with you (and, in my experience, often won’t) and just because you like to watch MMA doesn’t mean you’ll like fighting games. Flipped, it could make ostensible sense.

MMA is all about reactions; if presented with this situation, you respond with this situation. That is what rhythm games are all about. When presented with this pattern, position your hand or feet thusly and respond with the appropriate movement. Music is all about hitting the beat and unifying the harmony and melody within the key and style. Applied to a fighting game, you are searching for the tempo, finding the give and take between yourself and your opponent, supplying the subtle counterbalance to his main theme. The game is your march and the fighter your scale.

But how do you convince these staunchly set fans to explore outside their lot in life? What can you say to a Mozart-lover that will convince them to try Street Fighter IV? What can you say to a UFC dudebro that maybe Dance Dance Revolution could be their jam?

But that is the larger issue here: how do we overcome prejudice? The nerd one is still a strong one. Even recently a friend’s fiancée said derogatorily that he was off to do “nerd things” when had an online game session set up. It wasn’t a lighthearted jab; she wholeheartedly hates that fact that he or anyone plays video games and that anything within the realm of such things (somehow including comics, cartoons, board games, and everything else derived to give people joy and pleasure) is a bad thing, hence using “nerd” and “geek” in a hateful manner.

The thing is, just like how I’m sure that folks can find joy in cross-genre interests and games, I’m sure there is a game out there that exists that she can enjoy. Maybe it’s Telltale’s The Walking Dead adventure game, which has in the latest episode become even less of an adventure game and more of interactive fiction (even the mechanic of free movement seems superfluous). Maybe it’s something super artsy like Journey where the solitary experience but deep bond with a stranger-turned-necessity can speak to something inside of her that she’s buried away, long forgotten. Hell, I don’t know, she might even dig Call of Duty if she ever gave it a chance.

The point is that you don’t have to like every single video game (the opposite of the theory is seems equally plausible in that not everything is for everyone), but there is something out there for you. In fact, there is something out there for you in everything. Sure, you don’t like to watch ballet, but have you seen a real, honest-to-goodness hip hop dance battle? Maybe you think anime is ridiculous and a waste of your time, but perhaps something more grounded like Kids on the Slope is your calling.

And if you think all video games are a waste of time and should only be played by children under the age of 10, then you probably just haven’t found the one made for you, and I guarantee you that there’s one out there that is.

So start searching.

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