I'm jealous of the people at BlizzCon 2014.
Their costumes might look a bit strange, their fervour for World of Warcraft might seem a bit fanatical, but they belong to a small percentage of the global population that has managed to find something they genuinely enjoy, and throw themselves into without reservation or shame.
The goddamn liberation of these people!
Blizzcon is a pretty exclusive event that you can't enter without an expensive pass, but still, the confidence and guts it takes to dress up and go out and holler in public about how much you love a video game - fair play, seriously. So it's kind of geeky and impenetrable, and if you don't know your pandaren from your zerglings, you're unlikely to feel welcome.
On my first night at BlizzCon, a bunch of attendees in World of Warcraft T-shirts were standing outside a 7/11 having a chat when some douche in a Humvee drove past and yelled "neeeeeerd" at them. I thought if that's the kind of crap people have to deal with out in the so-called real-world, then by all means, they should get a couple of days a year where they can go somewhere and be themselves.
But gamers are notoriously entitled and, particularly in the wake of the GamerGate scandal, where a bunched of pissed off white guys got indignant about their "rights" being threatened by journalism that actually gave a damn about women, I'm cautious to talk up the BlizzCon crowd as some kind of put upon social underclass.
A lot of us started playing games because we felt alienated and marginalised at school and that was fine. But the average age here is about 25 and I wonder whether there comes a point where you have to poke your head back up and take another look at reality.
BlizzCon is a pretty innocuous event, but the feverish devotion these guys seem to have to Blizzard and its myriad products makes me think they might be missing – or purposefully ignoring – the more important parts of being alive.
I don't think society has the responsibility to accept everything, to allow people to do whatever lawful activity they want in the name of self-expression. If you're regularly being called "nerd" in the street, as much as those people are bullies, maybe take a look at yourself as well.
This is getting off from BlizzCon and onto all conspicuous gaming culture. It's the reason I stopped wearing Insert Coin T-shirts. Not only do I want to try harder to ingratiate myself with the body politic, since not doing that at school just led to further exclusion, I also want games to find mainstream acceptance.
By setting up these idiosyncratic memes and events, I think the people who claim to love games so much and want to share their passion out in public are actually closing the walls in this culture. It's a kind of paradox. The more you talk about games and wear them on your sleeve, the more you seem like a weirdo.
And you have to remember that Blizzard doesn't care about you or your feelings. The company has some charismatic public-facing employees, but it still exists to make money for itself, and if it turned out that there was more profit in making games that appeal to jocular bullies, it would turn its back on the people here in an instant.
So again, I wonder: is this worth the effort? As well as deliberately disengaging with reasonable social norms, am I and the other followers of Blizzard devoting ourselves to something that doesn't care at all?
I think so. You don't get to be part of this culture unless you buy the games, the shirts, the tickets.
But what the hell, right? You dig deep enough into anything - any car show or fashion week, even something like Crufts - and you'll find the same hypocrisies.
I feel uncomfortable sitting at my laptop, picking apart something which clearly delivers a lot of happiness to a lot of people. If Blizzard and it's dogma brings you joy then the more power to you.
I really am just jealous.
Not one of the other 'cultures' - from punk music to nihilism to just basic iconoclasm - has brought me any pleasure, so if BlizzCon serves as comfortable haven for people who find everyday, standard issue living distasteful, it's a good thing and complainers like me shouldn't be allowed to come here.