That it isnít prompts some good questions, though. My Firing Line colleague has a longstanding aversion to calling games ďfun,Ē saying that the term is meaningless since everyone has a different interpretation of the word. Heís got a good point. Especially when it comes to computer and video games. And you can extend that definition of fun to the entire gaming hobby itself, as just telling someone that you enjoy playing games is akin to saying that you like moving your limbs at the local YMCA. Without specificsóI like shooters! I like aqua-fitness because Iím 74!óa phrase like that is impossible to quantify.
The gaming experience is so varied that it does the hobby a disservice to lump everything under a single term. Aside from the fact you sit down and stare at a screen, what are the similarities between Unreal II: The Awakening and Civilization III? Between Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and Madden NFL 2004? Between Knights of the Old Republic and Super Mario Sunshine? You need reasonably good hand-eye coordination and motor skills for all of those games, though you could say the same thing about driving a car and eating dinner, and nobody lumps together those two activities.
We donít often appreciate the different experiences that games afford us. In the massive amount of time that Iíve spent with my computer and console over the past two weeks, I could have restored a dozen classic automobiles and become a Cordon Bleu chef (and probably lost a few pounds), yet I never got bored. While it looked like I was just ďgaming,Ē I was actually sneaking down castle corridors in Thief, honing my skills with the Force in Jedi Outcast, haunting frat houses in Ghost Master, perfecting a draw play with the Cowboys in Madden NFL 2004, duelling with baddies CCG-style in the Etherlords II beta, playing gladiator in Nexagon, and even seeing how badly I could hurt a stick figure falling down the stairs in Porrasturkat (check it out for yourself).
Joe Two-Point-Five Kids doesnít get that, seeing only a mesmerised stare straight out of Children of the Damned and a great way to develop carpal tunnel. I think thatís the biggest reason why thereís still a great divide between people who play games and people who donít. Games may be getting more mainstream than ever, but itíll take a hell of a lot more than Tiny Fey joking about Grand Theft Auto on Saturday Night Live for the average person to understand what theyíre really all about.