Dropping the Ball

Sports and video games? Not as easy a combo as you might think, explains Mel.

By Mel Turnquist. Posted 09/07/2011 16:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

All Your Baseballs belong to us masthead

Believe it or not, I have to perform a balancing act every time I hang out with my friends.

I have two very different groups of friends– I have my video game/anime fan friends. With them, I can show my creativity a lot more, be enjoyably spacey and just legitimately enjoy myself. Then, I have my baseball fan friends. These ones are a lot more snarky and slightly more temperamental. These are the ones I feel the most confident around because I can easily hold my own in a conversation with any of them. However, the easiest way for me to get the weirdest of looks is to combine both fandoms or drop some knowledge of either of them. For example, when I was talking about the latest Red Sox game (yes, I’m a Red Sox fan…I live in New England, cut me some slack!) I joked that one of the Red Sox’ pitchers looked like Porky from Mother 3. Obviously, this got a lot of eyebrow raisings from both sides. Meanwhile, I once began to narrate a battle I was in while playing Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as if it was baseball broadcast and then talking about how I must be “clutch like David Ortiz.” Once again, odd looks and a few eye rolls.

Now, I don’t hate my friends for not being into all the same things that I’m into. That comes with the territory. I can see why some people may think baseball is boring or sports are rather barbaric. I can see why some people may think of video games or anime as kiddie stuff as well. Sometimes, however, I find it really hard to find anybody who regularly crosses over between the two. Whenever I do, they are more of the folks who are into sports video games more than anything else. They’re the ones who stay up till midnight for the latest Madden launch or their video game library consists of Charles Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam, Blades of Steel, MLB: The Show, and whatever else is out there. When they’d try to talk these kind of video games with me, I humor them but the problem with me is this–

I don’t like sports video games.

First off, let me clarify that I’m not talking about Wii Sports because that’s actually a little bit different. That takes motion gaming and also gives you a good workout if you play it enough. I’m talking about the ones that cause you to sit there and just press buttons to manipulate the game to your liking. Sometimes it can be pretty cool, like you can make up your own lineups or your own plays, but all in all I’m not that into it, for a number of reasons.

Surely Mel must like Super Monkey Ball? Right? I mean the ball has a monkey in it! -Ed.

One reason why I don’t like it is actually a huge reason why I do watch sports, mainly baseball: I like to see what happens. I like the unexpectedness of the game, like the fact that anything can truly and possibly happen. When you play the games, you manipulate things enough and you try to make things happen instead of just sitting back and seeing what’s going on. I like the imperfections of sports and video games seem to be more about perfection.

Another reason is, on the other side of the coin, a huge reason why I play video games: the the unrealistic scenarios. I’m not one who likes to have too much reality in their games. If I do have reality in my games, I like to have some sort of element of fantasy like the way Earthbound or Sakura Wars does. Those are a lot of fun and are fascinating. Sports are more of a reality thing to me and playing them as realistically as possible just isn’t my thing. However, I don’t necessarily rule out playing Mario Super Sluggers but it’s not something I’d always play. The thing is that I love video games because of the fantasy point.

The final big reason why I don’t like them is probably the most obvious of all– I suck at them. I get bored way too easily playing sports video games and I end up just slacking off and doing awful in them. It’s a shame because I like to think of myself as a pretty good video game player or at least try to come across as one.

Of course, I have nothing against those who like sports video games. I won’t go on any soapbox rants about how someone shouldn’t play them, but you just won’t see me playing any of them anytime soon. With this one little preference, it can make the gap between my two fandoms seem so much larger than it really is. I do have a couple friends who are into both baseball and video games that aren’t sports-related but only a rare few and I hardly see them.

I guess you could say that in essence, it’s just the fact that I don’t like sports video games, which makes me have to balance fandoms so much. Baseball may be a sport that brings everybody into the picture, but to find the video game and anime fans that are also under that tent is pretty tough, at least in the US. At least, for now, the balancing act will continue until I either snap or I find more than three people who share the same duality of baseball and video game/anime fandom. I wouldn’t change my fandoms for anything, I just wish that people would stop thinking that just because I like sports means that I like sports video games.

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