Ah, hobbies – one of the greatest cesspools of toxicity and a discrimination mingled with good-hearted fun. Some people prefer more conventional hobbies like music or sports. Others go for the more peculiar ones like glass-blowing or harassing people anonymously on the Internet. Being the incredibly predictable person that I am, I belong to the former group—specifically, the books and games faction.

As you noticed, I used and – not books, period or games, period. Yes, I do belong to both. I read novels and play video games. Preposterous!, you gasp, clutching your chest like an old lady does her pearls. It’s really not that hard, I snap back as you feel a story that you did not ask for about to unravel.

As a child, I was a voracious reader. I spent every free time I had in our school library, poring over kid’s versions of War of the Worlds and Moby Dick. Of course, I can’t take the title Moby Dick seriously nowadays but back then, it was just a really gnarly story about a legendary whale. Years later, Rowling successfully made a deal with the devil and released the Potter books, to much acclaim. I distinctly remember feeling like Dante entering Inferno as I begged our librarian to lend me the book – The Order of the Phoenix, to be exact. Come college, I started reading books with a more discerning eye, my degree training me to look at crannies people tend to gloss over. From the very beginning, I’ve read books to immerse myself in the narrative, to watch lives that were not mine and experience their hardships secondhand. There’s something about being part of the story yet having the luxury of being an observer whose actions can do the story no harm.
Some time after getting my first job, I bought myself a Nintendo 3DS and later on, a PlayStation 3. A few more steps down the line, I procured a PlayStation 4. (All of these were secondhand, by the way. Please, I am not so rich.) I have effectively become a hobby immigrant.
Of course, the world of hobbies and hobbyists being the war zone that it is, gamers seem to have gained this reputation that they play games because they cannot ReadTM. Although I have not experienced the backlash firsthand, the judgment baffled me. In my mind, video games were just a different form of narrative. A kind of narrative where I don’t have to imagine how the setting looks like or if a character actually has white skin. It is the kind of narrative, however, where my bumbling ineptitude affects the events directly. One wrong press of a button and Chloe Frazer’s falling to her death1. One decision and I would have wiped out a whole town.2 At its core, video games are the kind of stories that gift me the privilege of active participation, allowing me some leg room to control the story as I would like. I can drown my nosy neighbor in my swimming pool and nobody would bat an eye.3
Video games have also been ostracized for, allegedly, making players more violent people. We all know this is bollocks because if it were true, then by the same principle, every person who has ever watched Ocean’s 8 would be shoplifting MAC make-up and robbing the Star Magic Ball. If anything, video games (well, one video game in particular) have showed me that there is still compassion and there are still good people in the world. But that is a story for another time.
“There is no point in creating this divide between readers and gamers because everyone is enjoying the same thing anyway: a story.”

Anyway, the point is that there is no point. There is no point in creating this divide between readers and gamers because everyone is enjoying the same thing anyway: a story. There is no point in belittling gamers, thinking they are of inferior intellect. Gaming simply requires a different set of skills as does critical reading. But at the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying what we do. Granted, there are people in the gaming community who would rather choke than play a lesbian character.4 But, there are also people in the reading community who would rather froth in the mouth than read fanfiction. They’re entities that, sadly, exist in every fandom and there is nothing we can do about it.

I, on the other hand, am just going to be here, pulling a Hannah Montana and enjoying the best of both worlds.

1 Chloe Frazer, my beautiful and sassy treasure hunter, is the protagonist of “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” along with her girlfriend Nadine Ross.

2 This is from “Life is Strange” aka the Bae over Bae Simulator.

3 It’s The Sims. Please calm down.

4 The Last of Us II or the story of how Naughty Dog weeded out the homophobes