Friday, December 4, 2009

He said, she said

I can well relate to the feelings that Marquis describes when he, sitting in a boring business meeting, smells a woman on the fingers of his hand, and wonders while scanning the room what life must be like for the other people. Staring into the bored and boring faces of lifeless men who radiate a general lack of interest, passion and masculine spirit, it becomes blatantly obvious that their world is not yours. And your life entails events they only know from cable TV - far removed from what they believe is possible for a man like them to achieve. And since this is the majority of people that we are surrounded by there is a sense of strangeness to oneself. You're a wolf hidden among sheep.

The masculine mind craves to be daring and explorative. Men need risk and adventure. It is literally part of our DNA. And it is not like these guys would be able to deny their nature. What these men do is substituting the kick of living out wild inner urges with stale, fake, second hand experiences. Marquis mockingly refers to "Halo" as the unthinkable alternative to his action packed life of danger and debauchery. There is a reason that we think of "gamers" as pathetic underdogs who trade a wild youth for lonely late night couch sessions, unproductively interacting with other creepy guys. Video games are the lesser man's adventure porn.

Having said all that, I just bought an Xbox. And I fucking love it.

My apartment reflects the various (admittedly geeky) projects I have going at all times. Cameras and lenses for my amateur photography. There's my geeky 8'' telescope that provides me with night time motives. The keg in which I brew my own beer in. A guitar. A MIDI keyboard for my sorry attempts at creating music. I was obsessed with rare plants for a while, which I paired with some Monarch butterflies that I raised as pets. The art on the wall, while exclusively from friends, are testament to my attempts at drawing. My books and classical music collection are stored away, so most room gets taken up by my sports equipment. I can't remember the last time I was bored. I have no need for a TV. 

And it is because and not despite all that that I love this machine.

Yes, it can be creepy and sad to get your stereotypes confirmed by checking out an online multiplayer game avast with the the forlorn chat of ever adolescent guys who think that "cool" is equal to using swear words during virtual shoot outs. And while you wonder whether your impulse buy made you one of them, there are flash backs of that feeling of estrangement you had during the meeting.

But for me, the console basically acts as a geeky central media device that wirelessly links my music library or internet radio to my surround sound system. I stream free movies and occasionally rent a good TV show or two. It is easy to browse facebook and MSNBC news clips (well, both ain't that great, but still...). I linked the toy drums that came with the box to my music set. And I love the concept of an interactive trivia show. It's addictive to test your general knowledge against 100.000 other people simultaneously while a moderator comments live. And if you watch these clips, it quickly gets clear that the Xbox will soon evolve into an interactive telecommunication device that households won't go without.

And to my big surprise - women love it, too. Granted, I tend to be surrounded by ambitious, high achieving girls that are in competitive jobs, but the passion that a plastic guitar can unleash in these girls is astounding. No wonder, apart from the "classic" first person shooters, games become increasingly more attractive to women as they combine increased physical activity with social aspects (the online trivia features a "He said, She said" episode that is designed to pit guys against girls). House parties can turn into even greater fun with a set of plastic guitars, drums and some microphones. Some games appeal to women as much as men. If you still are caught in the early phases or male betterment and look for ways to invite women over to your place, here is a hint.

The reason I write this post is the comment an anonymous reader left the other day. Whether he was trolling or not, there is a point in noting that having a passion - any passion, even if it is video games - can reduce your neediness towards women.

Of course, as noted above - if that passion turns into your sole activity in life it will turn against you. But I see many friends repeatedly do the same mistake over and over again with their girls - they give up too much of their own lives to make space for the relationship. But by letting their partner become a hobby, they essentially lose the independence that women need to see in a man to keep up their interest. In these rare occasions, it is conceivable indeed that a man's new found passion for something other than the woman he sees could rekindle an ailing relationship.

In any case, and importantly, an Xbox can be a lot of fun. And just that.

I still haven't played Halo yet.


  1. Call of Duty 2 Modern Warfare.

    'Nuff said.

  2. The only games I've ever got into were strategy games like Civilization. And I haven't owned a gaming console since I got the original NES as a kid (the one with the gun AND the robot).

    But I know exactly what you mean about striking a balance between living your own life boldly and indulging in a little old-fashioned vicarious thrill.

    David Deida puts it well that men thrive on overcoming difficulties. It's a rush for us. And if a man isn't overcoming any real difficulties, like seducing a flat-out 10, or making your first million, or fucking up Al Qaeda motherfuckers in Afghanistan or whatever, then he will naturally find another outlet.

    One is games like halo.

    But another one, another hugely popular thing, of course, is televised sports. And that's my particular vice. I love me some NFL games big time, and also college, and NBA, and EPL soccer. Watching Adrian Peterson literally run over the safety in the open field gives me a rush. It's even better when it's my own team conquering the opposition.

    This is healthy and fun. But of course, I also have a job I love, travel around the world, go out at night and meet girls, etc. etc. The problem becomes when someone makes it their whole life, just like with gaming.

    And another thing... I've never been able to wear another man's jersey. No matter how much I used to love and admire Gary Payton, I would never put on his jersey. Because to me that is an open admission that he is a greater man than I am, which I don't consider to be true at all. It's a form of subservience in my book. Not sure why I draw the line at that when I consider it perfectly acceptable to cheer my head off for an athelete, but I just always have.

  3. So you first criticize game players are nerds who don't get laid and substitute it for real adventure, then you try to justify your own gaming habits by saying you don't often. I have to disagree.

    I haven't played games since I was 15 when I lost my virginity. I find sports, reading, traveling and meeting women to be a more fullfilling activity, since you can see the result from performing it. Gaming companies are catching on by making stupid ranks that no one really cares about.

    The only acceptable time to play games is against friends or female for competition.

  4. @Master Dogen - yes, you got my point. Interesting self observation with the jersey.

    @Anonymous - yeah, there might be some some cognitive dissonance between the lines. I prefer spending time on productive activities, as emphasized in the post. There is a difference, though, between a "gaming habit" that keeps you from meeting actual people and having an Xbox per se. I actually got that thing for the Guitar Hero IV set of (MIDI-able) drums, and figured it can spice up the parties I host.
    But then I was pleasantly surprised by the extras that come with it such as free Netflix streaming, facebook, wireless-music/photo sharing and the online trivia. Much of that appeals to families (and girls) and might be a hint at things to come. If the Natal videos turn into reality, this device could soon evolve from a fringe geek toy into another integral social device such as today's smartphones.

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