‘When gamers made me feel Among Us’
I am someone who sucked at gaming ever since I was a child. Being a 90’s kid, I have played arcade games like Contra and Super Mario Bros. on archaic gaming consoles (at my neighbour’s place because my father thought that was a luxury a school-going kid should not have). I experienced the real-time journey of games from television screens to bulky computer monitors, all the way to the modern-day hi-tech gaming computers.
One thing that remained consistent throughout this duration is that I never really developed the aptitude or the skill set to be a good gamer. I still remember being frustrated while playing RoadRash with my friends (who were actually bullies but I had little choice back then) and failing every single two-player race (two-player was a huge thing back then). I faced a similar ordeal in every single game that became popular over the ages, which I tried playing and sucked hard at.
As a result of persistent failures and the growing loathing from my peers for not being able to play games well, I was soon considered an outcast from the community. Like every outcast ever, I began hating and looking down upon the gamers’ group which was apparently too exclusive for me to be a part of. Over the years, I developed other skills, ventured in different directions where I was appreciated and wandered off far far away from anything game-related (all while secretly wanting to be one of these super cool kids who, in themselves, were on the path to forming an entirely new faction of society).
Owing to my orthodox upbringing, my traditional middle-class family background, and because I mostly resided in tiny towns filled with people struggling for their daily bread, I began developing the same obnoxious attitude towards gamers that all the ignorants of our society have.
It was not until a completely unexpected job I took forced me into a totally unanticipated meeting with an entirely out-of-my-comfort-zone person named Zara Rebello, that I was forced into reconsidering my views towards gaming in general. I was supposed to interview Zara for her Cosplay work and being an ethically driven person, I knew that if I had a non-approving attitude towards my interviewee’s profile as a gamer, I would not be an unbiased interviewer, even when talking to her about Cosplay. So purely out of necessity for my job and my ethical adamancy, I began looking at the field of gaming with an open – if not completely accepting – mind.
For reasons neither I nor Zara would be able to explain, that interview led to us becoming considerably good friends almost a year after we first met. As my perspective towards gaming had become more accepting over the years, perhaps Zara also felt comfortable talking to me about games and the likes in recent times.
Zara introduced me to the gaming field one step at a time and when I was still an outsider, still dipping my toes in the ocean of gaming, one day, Zara suddenly asked me if I wanted to play a game called ‘Among Us’ with her group of friends (who are all pretty good, some even professional gamers apparently).
Suddenly, all my childhood insecurities of being cast out from an exclusive group rushed to the surface. My first instinct was to deny the request, stop talking to Zara completely, turn my phone off, delete discord from my computer and cry my heart out in my lonely little bed.
However, maybe because I had come to trust Zara enough to know that she would never intentionally screw me over, I accepted the offer and joined in on the gameplay with her friends.
As fate would have it, I was the imposter in the very first round (which, for those who are unfamiliar with the game, is a very crucial role) while playing ‘Among Us’. Now as expected, I performed just like my history with games would suggest. I sucked so grandly, I almost began hating myself by the end of the first round. But surprisingly, this gang of gamers did not kick me out immediately. Nor did they ridicule me for not being good enough. They included me in another round. I sucked again of course. But regardless of my consistent failures, they kept including me in the following rounds and even acknowledged my presence in the game several times which made me believe that this was not just charity and they actually thought of me as one of them, at least for those few rounds I played with them.
I feel slightly ashamed accepting this as a 30-year-old man, but the kid inside me danced with joy that day, and for the first time in my entire life, gamers made me feel ‘Among Us’.
Image rights owned by Game developer – Innersloth