You find yourself in a new place, with people you do not know. For many of us, especially myself, this situation happens far too often. Throughout my twenty-three years on this planet, i’ve had my fair share and more of new situations; the past three years, i’ve lived in five different states and met many eclectic groups of people.
However, there’s always been something that has linked us together: video games. Whether you play competitively, professionally, or even if it’s just a hobby of yours in your free time, there’s almost always some aspect of gaming that can unite us as people. Over the past few years, i’ve found myself time and time again making new friends out of complete strangers because we are able to bond over electronic fun.
Video games, at any level, have become commonplace in the United States. In fact, as of 2015,155 million people actively play video games in the United States and 42 percent of them play more than three hours a week (source). It’s slowly becoming as commonplace as traditional sports in our society.
Writing about this topic was something that kind of struck me in the moment. Just yesterday, I took a flight from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to visit me family for a few days before embarking to Los Angeles, California for work.
Something to know about me is that I am not a small guy and of course, I found myself in a middle seat on a packed plane in between two fully-grown men. On an eighty-five degree day, it seemed like I struck out comfort wise on the four and a half hour flight. I put in my headphones, blasted the ac above me, and prepared to stick out the flight.
The first hour or so of the flight, I was knocked out cold; staying up all night being anxious as to what the near future holds will do that to you the next morning. When I woke up and saw that we were only an hour into our flight, I was pretty bummed out. I took out my laptop from my carry on and turned on my N64 emulator to play some Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of
Time. Any of my 90’s homies understand that this game is one of the cornerstones of the gaming scene. As I opened up my save state and started to play, I looked to my right and was not expecting what I saw. The man next to me, most likely around forty years old in age, was playing the new Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo Switch. To make matters even more weird, the man to my left, about fifty-five to sixty years in age, was playing Legend of Zelda: Wind
Waker on his laptop. Here we were, three men from three completely different walks of life, time periods, and environments, enjoying one common thing: video games. Trying to not freak out and ask a million questions, I casually struck up conversation with the two guys about them playing. We spent the rest of the flight running through the games and talking to each other about the stories of each. The man on my right helped me with the caves in Ocarina of Time, and the man on my left explained to me how he enjoys playing games on flights because it’s more fun than reading to him.
This experience made me reflect on the other instances in my life where I made friends in places I did not expect to. I immediately thought back to 2014, where I moved to a ranch ten thousand feet up in the mountains, in order to take a breather from our hectic, high pressure society.
I met the people I would be living/working with on the ranch: about a dozen other guys roughly around my age. Being in a place of solitude and nature, the last thing I expected was for us to bond over something electronically, but low and behold, within days, we were chatting during lunch and dinner about all of our favorite video games from our childhood. We developed a close bond over things that I would have not expected to bond over. The past few years of my traveling life is littered with experiences like this, bonding with people of all age groups, regions, lifestyles, etc.
The moral of the story is that you never know where you are going to find a friend, and many times, gaming, in one way or another, can be a catalyst for you to develop these relationships. We understand that even though video games are becoming commonplace in today’s society, there is still a slight mores in our world regarding them.
I suggest throwing society’s perception of them to the side, because more times than none, you will find a friend where you least expect it because of a video game.