It’s Sunday night, dinnertime. The one time in the week where the four generations of a family can get together and enjoy good food and strengthen family bonds. But two members and their significant others can’t make it this week so they won’t be eating with the rest of the family. Are they working late? Not tonight. Volunteering at the local hospital? Nope. Well then where could they be? One couple, we’ll call them Couple A, is engaged in a time honored activity that involves imbibing copious amounts of alcohol and watching others play a game. The other, Couple B, is engaging their brain in an often chastised activity that requires them to participate in a game using their skills in math, reading comprehension, and acting. Fast forward to the following Sunday, once again all four generations arrive at the designated house to crowd around the table and share food and companionship. The patriarch of the family unit asks Couple A about the game they watched last Sunday and laments that he couldn’t go himself. After discussing this for most of dinner, the patriarch turns to Couple B and states that if they didn’t waste their time playing some stupid game then they wouldn’t have had to miss family dinner last week. After saying this, he turns back to Couple A and ignores Couple B for the rest of dinner.
Unfortunately, this scenario plays out all too often in homes around the country. Both Couple A and Couple B were enjoying an evening with friends. Both were engaged in a legal activity where no one was injured. Couple A was watching a football game in their living room. Couple B was playing Pathfinder around a living room table. One was encouraged. One was shunned. But why is this?
The most common response to this is testosterone VS dorkiness. Even though Couple A was only watching a sporting event, football is considered such a masculine activity by people, that just watching it is also considered masculine. As such, it is chock full of testosterone. On the other hand, Couple B, even though they were actively participating in the Pathfinder game, is considered less masculine because of the general perception of such activities. Namely, that table-top gaming is not associated with masculinity. As such, it is chock full of dorkiness. So from the perspective of the patriarch of the family, dinner is greater than dorkiness, but less than testosterone. As such, missing dinner for football is fine. Missing it for role playing is not.
Expanding on the concept of testosterone VS dorkiness, the logical direction is video games. Is playing Call of Duty more masculine than playing WoW? If we go by the formula used above, then yes it is, because playing a soldier sniping somebody is more masculine than playing a mage throwing a fireball. But if you take away the graphics, what it breaks down to is pushing a button to cause damage to an enemy. An even better continuation of the previous football/Pathfinder argument would be playing Madden NFL 12 on Xbox Live versus playing a PVP match in City of Heroes. They both require good reflexes and knowing the correct time to use each move. It's just one is done in spandex, the other is done in spandex and a cape.
Hopefully one day, people will realize that spending time with friends is what’s important. What you are doing during this time is really secondary. As long as everyone is enjoying themselves, does it really matter if you’re watching a hockey fight on a TV, imagining yourself tossing imaginary lightning bolts at an imaginary dragon, or shooting digital bullets at digital enemies to capture a digital flag?