It’s 2018. The gaming industry is a multi-billion pound economy, and there have never been as many game developers, gaming jobs, and gamers in general. We’re at a point now where people are genuinely debating whether e-sports should be allowed into the Olympics. So why is there this stigma of ‘ugh, only kids play video games’ hovering over the industry, being wielded by those who have never picked up a controller?
I want to share a conversation I had at work the other day. I’m required to work closely with two baby boomers, and we more or less make up a three-person team, all at the same level. We have a quick meeting/discussion every morning where we talk about our workloads and if any of us requires additional help from the others, though recently these huddles have begun to descend into five minutes of work-talk, twenty-five minutes of personal life talk. As I’m a guy in my late twenties, naturally we don’t have many shared interests, and they have nearly everything in common with each other. But whenever they discuss wildlife, or current TV shows, or the evils of carbs (God, SO MANY carb conversations…), I’m always polite and allow them to talk, pitching in occasionally with the odd question, until the topic changes to something we can all relate to.
The other day there were two more people at our huddle. A woman the same age as myself who’s a fellow card-carrying gamer, and we’ve had many enjoyable gaming conversations in the past. There was also a bloke from a different department in his late forties. Over the course of the conversation it came out that this bloke is a secret gamer, and none of us realized! Of course, me and my fellow gamer immediately started asking questions about his platforms and the types of game he enjoys. But it really surprised me when the two baby boomers started being really rude: calling the three of us nerds (not in a good way), pretending to fall asleep from boredom and making derisive statements like “Oh God, here we go”. They started interrupting with questions not to learn new information, but to try and break up the flow of the conversation to try and get it to end. When it did, after all of thirty unsatisfying seconds, I sat dumbfounded. I know gaming has this stupid misplaced stigma of not being particularly intellectual, meant for kids etc, but I never expected this. I’ve talked about my interests that they don’t share before, and they too were polite and asked follow-up questions. So why were video games a massive no-no for them?
I’m really struggling to understand. Is it a generational thing? Maybe, but the gamer in his late forties is close to their age and normally gets on well with them. I’m just at an absolute loss to describe their behaviour towards video games. Has anyone else experienced this kind of thing in the workplace? Does anybody have any ideas on how best to handle situations like the one I found myself in and how to tackle the problem as a whole? Please let me know in the comments, I’d really love to know!
(P.S. – Apologies if this seemed a bit ranty in nature but it felt good getting it off my chest!)