The word “gamer” is one that should be easy to define – at its core, it would simply mean one who games. However, the gaming community today debates that definition on a daily basis. According to what I have seen this from online communities this generaiton, people who play CoD or Halo every night are “fake” gamers, people who play Nintendo or on their iPods are “casual” gamers (whom are sometimes blasted as a plague to the gaming community), those who don’t game every night are not hardcore enough to be a gamer, etc. The varying amount of criteria to earn the title “gamer”, by many, is mind boggling.
As a veteran of the gaming world who has been enjoying the digital realms for over 25 years, I can say that many gamers today are horribly misguided as to what being a gamer is, or better said, what it should be. I want to review some of the key “claims” made by a lot of the voicetrous members of the gaming community, show why they are wrong and then end with what I believe it means to be a gamer.
Playing CoD or Halo Nightly Means You are Fake (Or Stupid)
This is one claim I have seen all over the internet. Apparently playing a mainstream FPS every night makes you a fake gamer. And that makes zero sense. Some people may actually enjoy these games as well as the social aspects that come alongisde competetive gaming (which is usually what they are playing every night, the competetive MP). The game you choose to play should have zero bearing on your right to be called a gamer. Playing more obscure titles (Shin Megami Tensei, Catherine, Record of Agarest War, etc) doesn’t make you any more or less of a gamer than the CoD or Halo faithful – it merely means you have a difference in gaming tastes. Get over it.
Casual Gamers Aren’t Gamers
This is one I have always found especially interesting. I have seen countless attacks on those who play titles like Dance Central, Angry Birds, anything on the Wii besides Zelda, etc. Playing casual games doesn’t make you a gamer? Really? How? Those who play casual games are gaming. Period. Whether they like to curb stomp enemies or dance around like a lunatic, they are still playing games. And the good times associated with gaming are not solely linked to “hardcore” titles. Many gamers, both old and young, have had as much fun smashing a bird through a brick or hitting a friend with a blue shell as they have had stopping the covenant or sawing through a locust.
You Don’t Game Enough to be a Gamer
Another complaint I have seen lobbied from one gamer to another is the amount of time played. Apparently if you can only play a night or two a week, you aren’t a gamer. It can’t possibly mean that you have several real world responsibilites that demand your attention and you love to play when free time is available, no no. It means you aren’t a real gamer. This one is just hilarious to me. Many of us who were there for duck hunt and mario (NES) are now adults, many with kids, jobs and some with part-time school. Not being able to log on every night to game doesn’t diminish your passion for gaming – it merely means you have other things which have to be done first.
Gender Bender – “Fake” Female Gamers
If there is any one part of this gaming generation which has blown my mind, it has been females and their presence in the gaming community. And by that, I mean how many of the male and female gamers have behaved this generation in regards to one another. One could easily confuse the gaming community for a 5th grade playground and blame for the gender issues that reside in gaming fall on both sides of the gender pool. For every guy who has dismissed a female gamer as “someone’s girlfriend” or labeled them as fat, ugly, or slutty, you hurt the gaming community. For every female who has used gender as a means to act superior or as a reason to be unduly praised, you hurt the gaming community. Those who participate in gaming come in a variety of shapes, sizes, ages and colors. And one’s asthetics or ability/inability to be pee standing up is not a criteria for being called a gamer. As much good as the term “gamer girl” has done (allowed female gamers to emerge online with a sense of pride and confidence), it has done just as much bad (created a divide within gaming based on a factor of birth and has spawned extremeists on both sides of the gender divide). And the number of people who exploit the girl gamer popularity craze aren’t doing the community any favors – it has merely encouraged “attention whore” gamers (those who do it more so for fame or popularity, vice passion for gaming) to come out of the woodwork. That is a shame, too, as all that does is make it harder for “real” gamers who happen to be female to get the respect they deserve. And that has also caused male gamers to become somewhat dismissive of females who may look a certain way (which still is not justified). I would like to think one day we will not assume someone is a gamer based on looks. That one day we can let a person’s passion for gaming speak for itself. Sadly, that day does not appear to be this day.
So, what does it mean to be a gamer?
I have spent four paragraphs breaking down what doesn’t disqualify someone as gamer. So, what does it mean to be a gamer? I can sum up what it means to be a gamer in one word.
It doesn’t mater what game you like to play, how often you get to play it, if you pee sitting or standing or if you are unattractive or “muy sexy”. Being a gamer should simply be based on one’s passion for gaming. It should be based on one’s love of the game. Gamers today get too caught up in seperation, hardcore vs casual, male vs female, platform vs platform, etc. It should not be this way. And the sooner the community can focus on what brings us together – vice what sets us apart – the better all of our lives will be. Or the better our 99 lives will be, if you used a cheat code. Up, up, down down…
Live and Let Game !