By Brian Feng

Everyone has things they love and hate. Just using food as an example, I was shocked by the blasphemous nature of a conversation I had with my friend.

F: “I don’t eat sushi because I hate seafood.”

Me: “Why would you hate seafood?”

F: “It’s just slimy…and that seafood smell…yeah…not it for me”

Me: “huh.”

Amongst other polarising things exist durians, microwaving milk and vegan food. Some people love them, others absolutely despise them and would crucify anyone who thinks otherwise. They trigger a tribalism in us, no matter how trivial it is.

For me, something I love is gaming. I started with Halo and Dino Attack when I was 8. Then Maplestory and Team Fortress 2 in Year 6. In high school, Hearthstone, League and Counter-strike. Numerous hours that could have granted me a better social life had been put into gaming. Heck, I could have actually gotten a Band 6 in English if I finished reading Macbeth instead of playing first person shooters.

Despite the time I’ve spent on gaming, I’ve noticed (being the reflective practitioner I am) that I don’t really view it the same way as my other hobbies. If I was asked in an interview, “What do you do in your spare time?” playing League till my vision starts blurring wouldn’t really be on the top of my answer list. I’ll stick with something safer:

“Yeah, I play a lot of classical viola…not the violin sir, the viola.”

As the SH course puts it, I have a bit of an “internalised stigma” about gaming.

I should be growing out of this by now. I should be socialising or studying, instead of wasting my time on League. I still have my assignment and project to do…and a whole week’s worth of lectures.

I don’t have the same thoughts when I spend a whole afternoon playing basketball, or a whole day binge reading a book. Not at all. This is why I think I have an internal stigma towards gaming. I have a lot of hobbies, and I love them all equally… but gaming, for some reason I view it in more of a negative light. I’m more inclined to hide it.

Was it my mum’s catchphrase in high school?

“还在玩游戏? Still playing games?” as she threw me a disapproving glance.

Even though I love gaming, I have a picture within my mind that separates things into good and bad. Sports. Good. Indoors. Bad. Medicine. Good. Staring at a computer. Bad. It’s a picture representative of the environment I grew up in and the society that has surrounded me since birth. But another artist’s painting should never exist inside the canvas of our minds. If you truly do enjoy something, then be proud of your love. If you truly hate something, then be firm in your disapproval. Don’t let other people graffiti and vandalise the life that is yours to colour.

Society has somehow persuaded my subconscious that gamers are overweight, unemployed – losers. It makes absolutely no sense, but neither do many other things. So, I did my best to clear things up.

The most important things we gain from hobbies are enjoyment and growth; which are traits arbitrary to the hobby itself. One person can stand on top of an oil field and find nothing of value, while the other becomes the next Rockefeller. That’s the whole point of our prized diversity, so that people are free to choose what they love and hate.

If you like something and derive enjoyment from it, then dedicate time to it!

Shopping as a hobby means you’re materialistic.

You like K-pop only because there’s pretty girls.

Liking make-up just means you’re a superficial person.

There’s a lot of different labels that I’ve heard slapped on other peoples’ passions. And it’s depressing, because I see people deflate when they get shut down like so. Maybe you’ve been through a similar experience, being ridiculed for the things you love and hate. But a label’s just a label. For those who aren’t confident about their hobbies, just like how I am with gaming: it may take a bit of time, and some reflection, but I hope you’ll be able to rip that label off and embrace what you enjoy.

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