Anthropologist Thomas Malaby has said that games are, “approaching the texture of everyday life.” And the combination of rowdy assholes in a never-ending action movie? One that feels, well, pretty viscerally real?
There’s a certain pleasure to be taken, in building up your abilities in a game. In something like Baldur’s Gate, there’s a slow bootstrapping process while you pick up crappy “level 1” swords, hats, and pants. They’re enchanted, sure. They make you slightly more powerful. But it’s a few hours before you get the “level 15” hat. And a few more after that to get the +5 swords of righteous dragonsex, or whatever. The slow build of aiming skills, in something like Counter-Strike, and the slow build of gear in something like BGII, both are a kind of subtle internal grin that we might call pride.
Game developers enjoy calling this, “Fiero,” the Italian equivalent. Sounds fancier, and I’m sure there are minor cultural variations, but cazzo. Lo non parlo l’italiano. In the interest of being understandable, I’ll stick with the ‘merican term pride.
Pride also refers to the, “big win.” Author and researcher Jane McGonigal has some great screen captures of gamers’s “fiero faces,” after they’ve just climbed some daunting Everest or another. She talks about them pumping their fists, screaming, and describing an intense rush. To look at them, I just hope they had a change of undergarments nearby, and also hope that I never get caught making a fiero face.
This is made all the better, of course, by sharing a prideful place with other live miscreants. Especially one with the “texture of everyday life.” Between the presence of being inside a new space, and the display of your skills to other people, pride is amplified.