“It’s Just a Game” [en]

[fr] "C'est qu'un jeu!" J'ai beaucoup entendu ça ces dernières semaines. D'une part pour dire "tu as vu le temps que t'y passes?" et d'autre part pour dire "machin t'insulte mais c'est pas grave, c'est juste un jeu". Et toi, tu passes combien de temps à regarder la télé? Quant au reste... le jeu est un jeu mais les relations entre les joueurs, elles, sont bien réelles. Etre harcelé ou insulté dans le cadre d'un jeu n'amoindrit pas le harcèlement ou l'insulte.

“It’s just a game!”

I’ve heard that a lot these last weeks. About Ingress. Of course it’s “just a game”. But.

Before I get to the “but” bit, here are the two contexts in which I’ve heard “it’s just a game”:

  1. you spend so much time on it, how crazy, it’s just a game!
  2. don’t get so wound up that people are behaving like jerks, it’s just a game!

Context 1: how much time do you spend watching TV? at the gym? and if I was walking or jogging around instead of “playing a game”, would you still comment on how much time I play? or if I was reading a book? It’s interesting how because it’s a “game”, and therefore “fun”, spending time on it is a “bad thing”… And in the case of Ingress you can’t even argue that it’s “time sitting behind a computer”, because it’s actually “time spent walking and walking and walking”. Exercise is supposed to be good for you, isn’t it?

Context 2: the game is a game, of course, but the human relationships between players are real. If a player is bullying another player, or insulting them, or treating them badly, the fact that what brought them together is a game is pretty irrelevant. It makes sense to say “it’s just a game” when it comes to gauging how seriously to take the actions of the game (is it really a question of life and death, worth getting mad at others for, if Portal WhatNot is still standing in 20 minutes?) But it doesn’t make sense to use “just a game” as a reason to discount the impact dysfunctional relationships or group dynamics can have on the people involved.

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