Gaming (Gaming's Alteration of Terms)

Time to go all meta on you.
 
When we first moved in to our new apartment, our landlord asked apropos of nothing if I was into "gaming." This was a 60+ year old fellow asking me this, so I was sort of amused and bemused at the same time. Could he mean, like, bejeweled or something? He didn't seem to be a hard-core RPG player, although looks as always can be deceiving, but I was guessing there might be something in common between him and me, which would make things a bit smoother should we subsequently set the place on fire when I'm conducting one of my cooking experiments.
 
"Yes, by gum," I said [I'm paraphrasing here], "I like games!  What kind of games do you mean?"
 
"Well, you know, slots. Poker. "
 
Argh.
 
I've been a gambler of sorts ever since I was old enough to put a coin in a slot: you played arcade games with the chance for glory, putting your initials into the high score list, and maybe even seeing an ending, although those weren't invented for most arcade games until much later. They're often games of skill, and they take an investment in time to get right. Even single-purchase games (remember those?) were a gamble when you didn't know how good the game was from the tiny picture in your Sears catalog, and now we get tons of compatibility errors, patches, and DRM shenanigans. There's an element of gambling in all of them, but not the kind of gambling that you think of when you just say that word out of the blue.
 
Gambling. Gambling was what he meant by gaming. They even have gaming commissions in the States that regulate gambling. They couldn't call them "gambling commissions" because there's something seedy about the term for some people. Gambling suggests recklessness, but gaming is good clean fun, even if a particular game or its participants wind up being pretty reckless. And this sort of gaming exists in a gray zone of legality, sometimes falling on either side, often because people have shown their ability to wreck themselves and their families utterly through irresponsible behavior.
 
That's not to say that "gaming" couldn't be used by random folks to mean board games, card games, whatever. It's certainly used that way by many species of gamers, of which I'm several at once. But I don't tend to gamble, probably because I know the odds are against me. I know that whatever gamble I take on a video game, I've already lost my money and am trying to earn it back through learning about the game and enjoying what it has to offer. The pressure is just as much on the people making the game to give me a good product, as it is my job to appreciate what's going on. Those kind of odds sound a lot better to me.
 
I don't doubt there are people who gamble AND play video games and board games (or sports, for that matter), it just feels like the gambler and non-gambler core groups live on separate islands, both of them exiled from the non-gaming mainland. I'm not sure what the people do on the mainland...  It's been a very long time since I tried to live in a world without games.

11 Comments
11 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

Time to go all meta on you.
 
When we first moved in to our new apartment, our landlord asked apropos of nothing if I was into "gaming." This was a 60+ year old fellow asking me this, so I was sort of amused and bemused at the same time. Could he mean, like, bejeweled or something? He didn't seem to be a hard-core RPG player, although looks as always can be deceiving, but I was guessing there might be something in common between him and me, which would make things a bit smoother should we subsequently set the place on fire when I'm conducting one of my cooking experiments.
 
"Yes, by gum," I said [I'm paraphrasing here], "I like games!  What kind of games do you mean?"
 
"Well, you know, slots. Poker. "
 
Argh.
 
I've been a gambler of sorts ever since I was old enough to put a coin in a slot: you played arcade games with the chance for glory, putting your initials into the high score list, and maybe even seeing an ending, although those weren't invented for most arcade games until much later. They're often games of skill, and they take an investment in time to get right. Even single-purchase games (remember those?) were a gamble when you didn't know how good the game was from the tiny picture in your Sears catalog, and now we get tons of compatibility errors, patches, and DRM shenanigans. There's an element of gambling in all of them, but not the kind of gambling that you think of when you just say that word out of the blue.
 
Gambling. Gambling was what he meant by gaming. They even have gaming commissions in the States that regulate gambling. They couldn't call them "gambling commissions" because there's something seedy about the term for some people. Gambling suggests recklessness, but gaming is good clean fun, even if a particular game or its participants wind up being pretty reckless. And this sort of gaming exists in a gray zone of legality, sometimes falling on either side, often because people have shown their ability to wreck themselves and their families utterly through irresponsible behavior.
 
That's not to say that "gaming" couldn't be used by random folks to mean board games, card games, whatever. It's certainly used that way by many species of gamers, of which I'm several at once. But I don't tend to gamble, probably because I know the odds are against me. I know that whatever gamble I take on a video game, I've already lost my money and am trying to earn it back through learning about the game and enjoying what it has to offer. The pressure is just as much on the people making the game to give me a good product, as it is my job to appreciate what's going on. Those kind of odds sound a lot better to me.
 
I don't doubt there are people who gamble AND play video games and board games (or sports, for that matter), it just feels like the gambler and non-gambler core groups live on separate islands, both of them exiled from the non-gaming mainland. I'm not sure what the people do on the mainland...  It's been a very long time since I tried to live in a world without games.

Edited by BlinkyTM

That's disappointing. I am disappointed in that Old Man for not knowing what a video game is. That would've been so awesome if he meant actual gaming and not gambling.

Posted by kalmis

There is actually something called matched betting. Which is kind of like safe gambling. Not really gambling, but that is just easy way to describe it. 
I used to do that quite lot few years back. It actually has some of similarities to video gaming. Both very time consuming to begin with. Different bookies/casinos/games have different systems which is something you need to get into. Same way as you would need to get into a new video game.

Posted by jetsetwillie

im not really sure what your going on about. but i like to play online poker sometimes. its great fun, won £50 once.

Posted by Still_I_Cry

I am terrible at betting and card games and I absolutely loathe them with all of my heart.

Posted by Brendan

I like gaming. I also like gaming.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Brendan: I've played poker for fake money online before. There's something about real money bets that scare me off, though. Probably traumatic memories of all the money I lost in my first days of dabbling with gambling after High School.  
 
I also bet at the dog track, but I usually wound up feeling bad for the dogs. Almost adopted one once, but I'm pretty sure that would have been an epic disaster on my part.
 
@BlinkyTM: Well, I'm sure I disappointed the Old Man just as much :)
 
@Still_I_Cry: For me the games themselves aren't that big a deal (I used to play Cribbage all the time for the fun of it ), but the groups I gambled with during my brief foray were strangely hostile toward each other (and to me). There was a weird tension, I guess because money was involved, that sapped the fun and made me feel like one slip up and I'd wind up with a knife in my gut... Maybe I ran with the wrong crowd.
 
@jetsetwillie: They were phasing out slot machines where I live, so I decided to play my first and last game before they were removed. I put a coin in and won my coin back. I figured I'd beaten the odds and quit while I was ahead. Was probably the most fun I ever had gambling. (I've been blogging about how terms in gamer culture and terms in the culture at large don't always intersect. Have a bunch of other entries before under "Gaming's Alteration of Terms" but it's hard to index all these blogs I've done over the years.)
 
@kalmis: Intriguing; I've never heard of this before. I'm not sure I completely understand the concept but it seems like an interesting way to mitigate losses.  It also seems like if you don't know what you're doing you could mess things up, especially if you don't take into account the fees or whatever.
Edited by BlinkyTM

@ahoodedfigure: Old man deserved to be disappointed for using "gaming" in a non video game context! Old man should be given an Xbox 360 with Gears of War 3. I guarantee Old Man will never come out of his apartment. Unless it's for rent, then he'll collect that and go buy some microsoft points for DLC.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@BlinkyTM: I think Old Man would be reminded too much of the youngans, with whom he held a very tenuous relationship. He's probably the reason we'd get weird trash in front of our door once in a while. Vengeful little brats probably thought he lives here.
Posted by BlinkyTM

@ahoodedfigure said:

@BlinkyTM: I think Old Man would be reminded too much of the youngans, with whom he held a very tenuous relationship. He's probably the reason we'd get weird trash in front of our door once in a while. Vengeful little brats probably thought he lives here.

Lol. Good point. Looks like Old Man will just have to stick with gambling. Poor Old Man :{

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@BlinkyTM said:

@ahoodedfigure said:

@BlinkyTM: I think Old Man would be reminded too much of the youngans, with whom he held a very tenuous relationship. He's probably the reason we'd get weird trash in front of our door once in a while. Vengeful little brats probably thought he lives here.

Lol. Good point. Looks like Old Man will just have to stick with gambling. Poor Old Man :{

Yeah, don't get me started. I could write a book. :)