Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What is a Gamer?

Quick musing time! The gaming world is expanding philosophically, educationally, and psychologically. Containing all of my muses to one day seems to defy the growth of gaming. 

I want to spend today’s post defining “Gamer.” What is a gamer? Who is a gamer? What qualifications are needed to call one-self a gamer?

This sounds pretentious, I know. We come from a culture where there are in’s and out’s. Are you cool enough to hang with us or are you a loser? Every group everywhere is a click. Unfortunately that’s the reality. Religious affiliations, political groups, even down to PTA, Scouts, and small offices, there are rules for inclusion. If you don’t fit in, then you’re not one of us.

As a female gamer, I struggle with this constantly by having to prove that I know my shiz. I’m not a gamer until I can show that I know the answers to all of these questions, and I have this score on this game, and this score on that game. After jumping through the hurdles, I’m still not fully accepted because I’m a woman, but that’s part of the dance everyone has to go through at some point or another to show that they belong.

Being a gamer is not someone that plays video games. Even the Wiki article shows that the term gamer has its roots in table-top role playing games. That in itself is a very small community that can be a b to break into.

While gaming now encompasses table-top, physical role-playing, consoles, computers, and everything in between, the definition of a gamer hasn’t really changed. It’s someone that we expect to live and breathe the culture. They absorb themselves into every aspect of gaming life, sometimes to a point of obsession, to prove that they are the best. They want the high scores, the most kill shots, and all of the glory to show off to everyone else that yes, they are a badass in Mario Kart.

But there’s more to it than that. A lot of what being a gamer is about is having love for the culture and the games. The first definition on Urban Dictionary is one that I feel the most connected to. It’s not about the scores but fun in playing the game. A gamer is someone who takes the time to learn, improve, and discuss games from a knowledgeable stand point. Knowledge, as in wanting to converse about games in a theoretical/educational manner that pushes the boundaries. It’s not about who has the highest score or how to defeat the final boss, but the hidden layers of a game. What is the message that the game developers were trying to present with this character? Why was this mythology included to represent this story?

It’s great to see that the term gamer has opened up more study and interest in the things that happen beyond stats and pretty images. It’s also still a club where you have to have some credibility. Just because you play a game, does not make you a gamer. Just because you like to speak about things academically does not make you a gamer. You have to become a part of the lifestyle. Which means online gaming sessions, participating in message board discussions, learning the lingo, and becoming one of us. Mt. Dew and 24 hour binges are not required. Unless you want to be overkill hard core, but really, when was Mr. Dew decided to be the drink of gamers? I hate that stuff.

There are varying degrees of gamer, but I think one thing is for certain. You’re not a gamer until you play for the love of the game. Not loving one game, but all games because they are games.


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