IRL: Gaming, Blackness, and Me

Promo art from Bioshock: InfiniteĀ Source: Wikipedia

by Ian Tingen

A couple of weeks ago, I had a profound experience at the intersection of gaming, allyship, and communication.

Have you ever had an experience like this? Let me know: comment and share below.

After finishing up a visit to the doctor, I saw a GameStop across the parking lot. Figured what the hell, I can go in and see if I was missing out on anything. I’m not, but I had a great conversation.

After a few minutes of chat with the clerk, a man in his early 60s entered the store. Weathered biker jacket: Jesus Saves, Roll with Christ – those kinds of patches. Looking for a new first-person shooter to play on his Xbox 360. After browsing for a little bit with him, I suggested BioShock Infinite.

He pauses. “I started off liking that game. And then, I really didn’t. In fact I wrote a letter to them and said they should pull it off the shelves.”

“Oh! Do you mind if I ask you what your objection was?”

He looks at the clerk: “Should I tell him?” She responds: “Yeah, he cool.”

He directs his conversation back at me: “I don’t play games where they call me nigger.”

I search my mind; “Does that game use that term?” The answer doesn’t come to me as quickly as the biker’s next words:

“It was great until that mess with all of time colliding. Then that word came out and I just couldn’t.”

Me: “It sounds like that was a huge letdown. Did they ever respond to your letter?”

Him: “No, not yet.”

Me: “Try tweeting at them.”

Him: “Thanks, I will try that.”

We then talked for a few more minutes about race, gaming, and scifi. Our final words were “thank you for talking with me” and “no problem, we gotta talk if we are gonna change things. Have a blessed day.”

It was a good reminder that not every conversation about heavy topics is a marathon, not every interaction is radical, and that we should be ready and willing to listen when others share.

Talk. Ask. Listen.


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