If you are a gamer, you have heard this at least once in your life. Maybe you yelled at your husband when he interrupted your Bejeweled Blitz minute after you'd spent tons of coins on power ups and a Phoenix Prism, and he gave you the standard, "Relax. It's just a game." Perhaps your wife told you that after she got you facerolled while you were solo mid, and you, understandably, had a few words to say it. Maybe your WoW tank said it to you after you watched him switch to his DPS gear for "fun" and wiped the raid.
I had that moment a few days ago. I had a player write me because I was really slow in processing a character for him. He explained to me that he had just had four days off work and had look forward to his new character, but now those four days had passed. He felt that those days were days he'd never be able to get back on playing his character. My initial thoughts were, "Man, chill out. It's just a game." Afterall, I'd just been through a week of hell, my company was going through some major (and great) changes, and my child's fieldtrip to Washington, DC had been cancelled two days early. I had a lot on my plate, and here was this guy whining about how he didn't get to play a GAME. Sheesh. The nerve.
But then I stopped and thought about it. This player had just had a new baby. I knew very well how precious gaming time becomes with a new baby. I'd had two myself. He was right. He deserved those days of gaming, and I was just trying to displace my own failure of dealing with my responsibilities by minimizing his complaint by saying, "It's just a game." And how poor a rationalization that was! It was MY game. My business. My customer. He keeps me in the business of making games, and he really would never get those four days back.
I thought about how frustrated I felt when I couldn't play SimCity due to all the server issues. I remembered the people mocking others who had taken time off work in anticipation of the first new SimCity in a decade. "It's just a game. Why would you take time off work for that?" People take time off work for all sorts of stuff they enjoy. Why not a game?
Gaming is valuable time for most people. It's time we carve out from our families, friends, work, school, etc. It's time we're choosing to entertain ourselves. So, the next time some gets mad at you for something and you want to reply, "Relax. It's just a game.", really take a look at your actions. You might be trying to shift blame for wasting someone else's time. And for gaming companies that blow off their players for not being able to access their game (I'm not naming any names. You know who you are.), take their complaints seriously because they take your game seriously.
(Okay, if you're living with a gaming addict, you can definitely say, "It's just a game!" and be justifiably mad. You are exempt from this blog post.)