Many nerds and geeks find themselves at the heart of misunderstanding and rejection from the general public. Not everyone gets the obsession that can come along with being a geek, and I’m sure many of you can relate to an outsider insisting that you drop your interest, back off of the hobby, and move on with your life. How many out there have ever been told that cartoons, comic books, and video games were something you’d grow out of?
In college, nearly all of my photography assignments were video game based seeing as they were what interested me the most. Eventually, my focus on gaming photography became a problem with one of my teachers. He said that I should try to branch out and take pictures of different things. I explained that I was told to photograph what I loved, and that I loved gaming. He delicately explained (and I'm paraphrasing here) that the photos were only interesting to me. No one else around me cared about video games or video game photography.
Naturally I felt a bit insulted, but I also believed that what he was saying was absurd. Plenty of people care about video game photography! I told him that I had a great idea for a new project, one that would be a little bit different. I wanted to photograph gamers from the position of the TV or the handheld system. We all know how interesting people can look while they play a game, right? The concentration, the facial contortion, the exaltation when winning and the rage when losing. I felt particularly good about this idea, and my teacher's response was to, more frankly, tell me that no one would find that interesting except for me.
At that moment another teacher heard our exchange. He came by and informed me that I couldn't do that project because someone else already had. I immediately felt heartened, and I used it as a "See?! Other people care!" example. In spite of his insistence that I photograph other things*, I continued with video games. I believe that some of my best work lies within those images. I put in so much care, thought, and love with each shot.
This "adversity" didn't stop me from allowing my geek flag to fly, or letting my true self shine. It was difficult to repeatedly be told that my work was interesting to only me, but I'm proud that I continued with it, that I followed my heart and created images that lots of people enjoy. Everyone should be doing what they want to do, and focusing on what they love. We work our hardest in those situations, and we reap the most satisfaction upon completion.
When a gamer sees my image of the original Legend of Zelda against the NES, they see so much more than plastic boxes. The photo, like all photos, becomes almost a mental time machine. The person can be transported to a young age, their first experience with gaming. They'll remember the sensations surrounding the NES, blowing into the cartridges, the start up sounds, the feel of the controller in their hands. A photograph can show stacks of games, and if the viewer recognizes any of them, there's an immediate sense of relatability and satisfaction. Or perhaps anger and frustration, depending on their memories with a particular game.
It’s important that we never allow negative views of our passions to bring us down. Video games as art has been a hot topic as of late, with many traditionalists believing that gaming has no artistic merit. Whether discussing the music, design, or story of video games, or the games themselves as a springboard for other forms of art (such as sculptures, movies, and photography), I believe that it has great cause for artistic celebration and exploration.
Considering how strongly gaming and geek phenomena have affected popular culture, I continue to be surprised by how many people will insist on talking them down as passing fads or branding a devoted fan as a singular entity. It’s my hope that those of us with a passion for video games as art (and video games and geek culture in general) will continue to proudly display our enthusiasm, and maybe someday break free of the stigma that, in some places, still surrounds us.
P.S. If you share my love of video game photography, then be sure to check out my Etsy shop where I sell my prints!
P.P.S. To see more of my video game photography, head over here and see the full album.
P.P.P.S. These photos are property of Miranda Eubanks/abitofgeek. Please attribute and link back if you're going to share them!
*He was a great teacher, I learned a great deal from him. Ultimately he had my best interests at heart as he was consistently trying to push me in new directions to expand my capabilities and interests.