May 26, 2019
A Multigenerational Look at Video Game Culture
Mortal Kombat arcade machine in Uncanny! at the King of Prussia mallSource: Uncanny! | Penelope Peru Photography p3
From the Vectrex to virtual reality, video games have birthed an entire culture, connected generations, and even pathed the way for lucrative career opportunities in the last decade.
Whether you grew up during the dawn of Nintendo or are coming of age in an era of hyper realistic 4K graphics, everyone has their own special connection to gaming.
To gain more perspective on video game culture, we reached out to a handful of gamers of all ages to share their experiences and points of view.
- Nimrodlenz – Age: 31 | Location: Germany
- Siobhán – Age: 25 (almost 26) | Location: Cornwall, England
- Levi “Doctoroctoroc” Buffman – Age: 37 | Location: Philadelphia, PA
- Maddie LeMarquand – Age: 19 | Location: Pennsylvania
- Xavier “XtaSeay” Seay – Age: 22 | Location: Pennsylvania
- Joey – Age: 15 | Location: Pennsylvania
What is your favorite genre of video games?
Nimrodlenz: “I like RPGs. Chrono Trigger is my favorite game of all time.”
Siobhán: “In terms of themes, more fantasy and sci-fi, that sort of genre.
As for gameplay, the only type I tend to avoid are JRPGs because of the turn-based combat style, which I just don’t get on with very well.
I just like anything, really. I love any video games that incorporate really cool concepts.”
Doctoroctoroc: “To be honest, I don’t actually play a lot of video games. I mainly play ‘The Legend of Zelda’ and ‘Metroid.’ Other than that, I like a lot of puzzle games or brain teasers that I play on my phone.”
LeMarquand: “Choose your adventure games, like ‘Life is Strange’ or ‘Until Dawn.'”
XtaSeay: “Games that you can get the most out of it with a lot of customization; opposed to focusing on one objective the whole time, like a shooter. Anything with an open world for sure.”
Joey: “Platformers, adventure, and open world games.
With open world games, there’s so much you can do. There’s practically no end – like Minecraft, for example. There’s really no end to it. You can just keep playing and playing and playing.”
What is your video game console of choice?
Nimrodlenz: “My first console was the Super Nintendo. I still love this console and buy games for it today.
The 16-bit graphics just had more love and detail.”
Siobhán: “I’ve got a lot of old ones, but at the moment it’s Playstation 4. I am desperate to get a Nintendo Switch, though.
I’m a loyal Playstation gal. I started as a Playstation gamer and I’ve had all of them since.
Throughout my childhood, I just played what my dad had and he always chose Playstation. We are very similar in that we are creatures of habit, so I just stuck with it.
There’s also something about the controllers that I love. I don’t think I’ve ever actually used an Xbox – maybe around a friend’s house when I was 16 – but I had a flatmate who was a PC gamer that used Xbox controllers. We’d play multiplayer and I’d hold the controller like, ‘What am I doing?’
I’m sure I’d get used to it, but I kind of don’t want to. I’m happy with my Playstation.”
Doctoroctoroc: “I stick with the classics. I like to bust out an old system whenever I can – usually the Nintendo or Super Nintendo.”
LeMarquand: “Definitely the Playstation. I think I’ve been Playstation hooked since around 2008 or 2009. It’s been awhile and I’ve never switched.”
XtaSeay: “The Playstation 3. I remember getting it really young and it just stuck with me because it had free online multiplayer and it never gave me any problems.
Plus, the Playstation 3 had Little Big Planet.”
Joey: “Computer (PC).”
How long have you been playing video games for?
Nimrodlenz: “I have been and will play video games my whole life. Currently, I have over 2,000 games.”
Siobhán: “I think I was about five-ish. Around that age is when I played all the [PC] Disney games and ‘Tomb Raider.’
[‘Tomb Raider’s’] probably where I got my passion for badass, action hero ladies. I owe a lot to it.”
Doctoroctoroc: “I was probably around six or seven at the time.”
LeMarquand: “I got the Wii for Christmas when it first came out in 2006.”
XtaSeay: “My whole life. I’ve been playing since my dad bought the Nintendo 64.”
Joey: “I’ve been playing video games my entire life.”
What is the first video game you can remember playing?
Nimrodlenz: “Super Mario Land on the Game Boy. The Game Boy was the first handheld I had as a child before getting the Super Nintendo for Christmas.”
Siobhán: “I have so many early memories of video games that I can’t place which one’s first, but I always go back to ‘Tomb Raider 3.’ I remember picking it up and going around the house constantly – that was one of my favorite things to do.
My dad also had a PC, so we would get the Disney games. I loved this ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ game because it was my favorite film. I was obsessed with it!”
Doctoroctoroc: “My grandfather managed a plastic plant that created the cells for the ColecoVision back in the day. He brought home a ColecoVision as a present to my brother and I when we were kids, so that was the first system I had.”
LeMarquand: “Before [getting the Wii for Christmas in 2006], I also had the Game Boy.”
XtaSeay: “I want to say Galga, the old Pacman, or Rampage World Tour.”
Joey: “‘Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness’ for the GameCube.”
Does anyone else in your family play video games?
Nimrodlenz: “My cousin plays video games. She likes my collection and we’re going together to Gamecon this year, which is a huge video game convention in Germany.
Gamecon is a long day, but I like it. I make a video of it every year for my YouTube channel.”
Siobhán: “My uncle – my dad’s brother. He introduced me to the GameCube, and I’ve actually got his old one now.
My dad – like I said, very much a creature of habit – only had the Playstation, so my exposure to Nintendo came from my uncle.
Apart from that, maybe the younger kids in my family, but no one else, really. At least, no one is as much of a gamer as I am.”
Doctoroctoroc: “We all play together. When my brother and I were really young, I can remember playing ‘Warlords’ on the Atari with the whole family.
My dad never really played much, but when my mom discovered ‘The Legend of Zelda’ she became a total shut in. We couldn’t play on the Nintendo for months because she wanted to beat the game and it took her that long.
When my mom discovered the master quests, we were like, ‘Oh shit, we’re never gonna get our Nintendo back’ [Laughs]. She probably played more than I did, back then.”
LeMarquand: “Not really. I don’t game with any of my cousins, and my parents don’t game, so no one.”
XtaSeay: “Yeah, but not as extensively. My little sister plays sometimes and my dad used to play. My mom doesn’t, though.”
Joey: “Not really. They have other stuff to do.”
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in the video game industry throughout your life, for better and for worse?
Nimrodlenz: “Of course, the biggest changes are the advances in video game graphics today, but I have to say I miss when video games had a good story.
For example, ‘Secret of Mana’ and ‘Final Fantasy 7’ had mega cool stories and I miss that a lot today.”
Siobhán: “[Laughs] I’m going to try and keep positive.
The graphics keep getting mindblowingly incredible. I recently plugged in my Playstation 3 to play something and I was like, ‘Oh my god, this looks AWFUL,’ and that’s only last gen, which is hilarious.
The main change that’s important to me is the subjects that are being tackled in video games.
At the moment, I’ve done a lot of stuff on Hellblade, which focuses on mental health. It’s such an incredible experience as a game.
That shift from being for fun and to actually exploring concepts in a different way is the best thing I’ve seen in video games recently.”
Doctoroctoroc: “For better, it’s become a gigantic industry with the proper financial backing to reach its full potential.
On the downside, I feel that a lot of the money is poured into things that don’t contribute as much to video games.
It’s like any form of art, in my opinion. You have people who are all about the artistic vision. Then, you have big budget games with great graphics and powerful hardware, but a lot of the magic that was there in the beginning is missing.”
LeMarquand: “The graphics are definitely better.
For worse, I’d have to say all of the people causing so much lag.
Overall though, it’s been crazy improvements for the better.”
XtaSeay: “How diverse the gaming community is. It’s not just stereotypes; it’s the vast majority of people.”
Joey: “Definitely the graphical improvements. Even from the GameCube to now. Games are looking like real life, where as the GameCube was very polygonal and 480p.
The color correction [in newer games] is just so vibrant and nice.”
How do you feel about video game culture?
Nimrodlenz: “I prefer to play offline games, because I always worry that someday the server will go down and I won’t be able to continue playing.
That being said, there are many retro markets in Germany where you can always meet nice people.”
Siobhán: “For the most part, it has got a lot more positive.
There was a time during my teenage years until about two years ago where I wasn’t comfortable engaging with other gamers, mainly because of the negativity towards women in the gaming community. There was the whole Gamergate thing and it just made me feel too uncomfortable to talk about with other people.
If you had said to me about five years ago that I’d be chatting about video games in an interview, I’d be like, ‘Pfft, no.’
I’ve recently started to engage with the community on Twitter and it’s been nothing but positive, really. You’ve always got certain silliness going on, but you just have to ignore that.
I think the culture behind it is getting more positive and inclusive, which I think is amazing.”
Doctoroctoroc: “For me, I was never really an online multiplayer gamer. I liked that idea of getting together at somebody’s house, sitting in front of the same television and gaming together. That was an experience I never really got from online gaming.
I remember most of my friends started getting into [gaming online] around the mid to late 1990s. Whereas I was using the internet for information, pictures, and making websites. For my friends, [the internet] was a way for them to connect to people.
I think it’s cool that a lot of people have this community that wouldn’t exist without video games or the internet. It helps to shape a lot of friendships in the same way that cosplays and conventions do.
Negatively, people who have been [apart of the online community] longer have a tendency to grow bitter about it. They’re spiteful of others who joined later or feel they have a right to that others don’t.
I think this shows the most when it comes to women in gaming. A lot of people want to take it out on the industry for not catering to women, but they’re a business. They’re catering to a target audience that will make them money – and a lot of women that want to play games want to play the ‘boy games.’
It also becomes a negative when people lose sight of what video games are. They’re not supposed to be a lifestyle. It can be, and you can get a lot out of it, but when your whole life revolves around gaming there becomes a detachment from reality and human interaction.”
LeMarquand: “I think it gets a bad reputation for no reason. People associate gamers with isolation and sociopaths, but honestly, if more people gamed I think there would be less trouble out there.”
XtaSeay: “It can be really hectic, especially in the YouTube comment section, but it can also be a really beneficial way for people to connect.
People can also take their aggressions out in a game and feel like they’ve accomplished something because they did it as a team, like in competitive games.
Even playing just to blow off steam is fun, too. There’s so much you can do with video games. You could build a house in a game and then bring that into your real life.”
Joey: “I think the events are cool. It’s interesting that all of these people come together to host or play at events and compete.
I think the culture is amazing because there’s so much. There are thousands of games that people like and thousands of communities.”
What are some common stereotypes affiliated with gamers that you feel are completely inaccurate?
Nimrodlenz: “That gamers always in their apartment, sitting in and eating chips. This is very outdated.
For example, I like to travel, play sports, and to meet up with my friends.
I also meet a lot more girls who like video games today.”
Siobhán: “The motion that gaming is either for children or people who haven’t really got their life together, which is so stupid.
I think this comes from people who don’t really understand gaming or the benefits of it. I find it difficult to talk about gaming with older members of my family, and it really comes down to them misunderstanding it.
Another one is that playing video games makes you violent, which really irritates me. If you see video games as how you should act in real life, that’s a problem that you sort of have, anyways.
People can differentiate between what’s right and what’s wrong in real life and video games.”
Doctoroctoroc: “[Laughs] I think they’re mostly accurate.
Obviously, in movies and television, the person who’s into video games always has to be a nerd or unpopular.
Going back culturally, growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, nerds were the ones getting picked on television. Now it’s like the jocks are being called out for being stupid. Being a [gamer] isn’t really a negative thing anymore, it’s actually like a sign of intelligence.
I have friends who are really into video games, as well as my tabletop gamer friends, and they definitely embrace the stereotypes.”
LeMarquand: “That gaming is all that they’ll do. It’s not all that I do; I still go to work everyday, I still do everything I have to do, and at the end of the day, I’ll play a couple games.”
XtaSeay: “Saying that gamers are only ‘nerdy people.’ There are a lot of stereotypes, but they’re all kind of similar.”
Joey: “That they’re all ‘soda drinkers and Dorito munchers.’ I know it sounds silly, but everyone makes gamers out to be these out of shape, disgusting, don’t clean their room, nasty type, but it’s really the opposite of that for most people.”
Where do you think you would be today if video games weren’t apart of your life?
Nimrodlenz: “I think I would be pretty boring with a standard hobby, like football.”
Siobhán: “I don’t think I would be as creative, because I get a lot of inspiration from playing video games. It’s not just playing them, it’s the visuals that attract me to them, as well.
I’ve been blogging for ages, but I really found my stride through blogging about video games. I wouldn’t have as successful of a blog without it.
I’ve recently written a piece about gaming and how beneficial it is for mental health in terms of escapism and wellbeing. If I didn’t have that, life wouldn’t be as fun and relaxing.”
Doctoroctoroc: “I’d probably be designing websites, programming, or doing something I don’t enjoy nearly as much.
My brother’s very similar in how we developed into adults and we both took up creative careers. Video games were definitely a huge inspiration for us, because it’s one of the things we interacted with most in the creative field.
We didn’t go to museums, look at paintings, or go to concerts a lot as kids. We would create things based on games that we played.
I’ve also gotten a lot of work through video game parodies and animations I’ve done, which is obviously a lot of work I wouldn’t’ve had. It’s hard to say what direction I would have gone instead.”
LeMarquand: “Honestly, probably outside.
Maybe I’d be hanging out with more people, but I’m glad are here.
I like time to myself, and I think video games are a way for everyone to hang out without having to [physically] hang out. Sometimes my friends and I will stop hanging out [in person] to go home and play video games together.
[Video games] also bring us all together, gets all of us talking. The parties in Playstation 4 are definitely an improvement, and it’s pretty cool.”
XtaSeay: “Still doing something involving screens. Creative stuff, for sure.”
Joey: “[Deep breath]. Probably just playing basketball.”
What is the future of gaming? Where do you think video games will be in 10 years from now?
Nimrodlenz: “I hope that video games in the eSports area get more recognition, and that video games are finally considered an art that can not be censored. In Germany, many games are violently censored.
Of course, I also hope that games continued to be sold in retail in the future. I prefer a game in hand than on the hard drive.”
Siobhán: “Technologically, it could go anywhere, really. It’s hard to know where they’re going to go with the graphics because they’re already pretty excellent.
One of the biggest things is Virtual Reality (VR) at the moment. I really want them to nail VR. I can’t use it at the moment because I get really bad motion sickness. It’ll probably be sooner than 10 years, but I can’t wait until VR is so immersive – even though I would probably find it very terrifying.
I also hope they are even more varied in subject matter and explore different topics.
I really want to see a lot more female game developers, as well. Even though it shouldn’t have to be a thing, I really do think having more females [in the industry] would make games more diverse. It’s happening, slowly but surely. I want everyone to feel welcome in gaming.”
LeMarquand: “You ever see that video game in the ‘Sims 4’ where they step into it, it creates walls around them, and they play video games by swiping a hologram? Hopefully there’s something like that.”
XtaSeay: “It’s hard to say culturally. Technologically, VR. It’s crazy, but that’s where it’s going.
It’s not a bad thing, but VR could definitely get out of hand.”
Joey: “They’re going to be way bigger in 10 years – I’m saying like, everywhere. There are eSports arenas being built and huge events going on all over. They’re actually building an eSports arena in Philly, and it should be here by 2021.
Video games are really big right now, but I think it’s going to be 10 times bigger in the future.”
Are there any games you’re currently looking forward to playing?
Nimrodlenz: “I must buy ‘Days Gone’ next time and the ‘Final Fantasy 7’ remake, which I hope is good.
I’m also looking forward to ‘Beyond Good and Evil 2’ and the new ‘Metroid’ game.”
Siobhán: “Yes! I really want to get the Nintendo Switch and everything that’s already out for that. I am so desperate to get ‘Pokémon: Let’s Go.’ I can’t even describe how much I want to play that game.
I also want to try ‘Mario Odyssey.’ It just looks incredible.
In the meantime, one of my most anticipated games is ‘Cyberpunk 2077,’ because I love ‘The Witcher.’ I’m also so hyped for ‘Jedi Fallen Order,’ because I’m a massive Star Wars fan.”
Doctoroctoroc: “I pretty much just wait until the next ‘Zelda’ game comes out. I buy every Nintendo system when the first ‘Zelda’ game for it is available, and that’s really what it comes down to.
‘Zelda’ is pretty much the only one I play a lot. It goes back to my mom playing it when my brother and I were kids, and it was this connection we had with her that we didn’t have with my dad.”
LeMarquand: “‘Days Gone.’ It’s about the end of the world and it’s story driven. You play as a guy and all you have left is your gun and your motorcycle. It seems like it has a really good plot.”
XtaSeay: “‘Days Gone.’ A dude at work has it and said it’s really good.”
Joey: “There’s not too many games that have my interest right now, so I’m just playing anything.
I’m looking forward to ‘Madden 20,’ ‘NBA 2K20.’ That’s about it for right now. At least, until other games get announced and released.”
Do you have any final thoughts or additional comments to share about video games?
Siobhán: “Video games are really great. Everyone should play them.”
LeMarquand: “People should honestly play video games. It makes you calm down and forget about stuff because you’re just doing something else.”
XtaSeay: “Go play them.”
Joey: “Video games are fun, they’re a good time waster, and certainly a good hobby. It takes up a lot of my time, but it’s a choice.
It’s insane the income you can make just playing video games because of Twitch and YouTube. That’s why I can’t imagine how it’ll pan out in 10 years from now, with even more platforms to come.”
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