Further Reading: The Name of the Game is the Game(r)

“Gamer” has long been the status quo label for those of us who partake in the past time of electronic leisure. And no, I don’t mean vibrators.

Video games came about at a time when they were thought of as toys. Much like other artistic pursuits of other eras (ragtime music, early filmmaking, skateboarding), they were kind of shrugged off as a joke, or exploited as a passing trend. This is the kind of behavior, belittling or segregating something, that leads to an enthusiast culture. Skateboarding people became “Skaters”, because the mainstream’s abandonment of serious skateboarding led to a homegrown skate culture, with it’s own magazines, and lingo, and products. The idea of “gamers” has taken much the same root.

skaters

Our closest relatives: Skateus maximus.

Unlike “Skaters” though, whose subculture has remained largely removed from pop-culture (sans the 80’s and 90’s, and select icons like Tony Hawk and Ryan Sheckler), Video Games have become every increasingly shoved into the spotlight as part of the mass consumption of media. Or, in short: video games have become popular. Not that they were ever unpopular, but now, they are popular for everyone. A 30 year old man tells you he spends his spare time playing video games? Even 10 years ago, that would have raised some eyebrows. Now, it’s perfectly acceptable behavior. “Gamer” subculture has recently been put under a microscope, as now, mainstream media and consumers are paying attention to video games more than ever before.

During GamerGate, a large amount of discussion actually ended up redirected to the idea of our subculture as a whole. Most in the GamerGate camp were all for keeping the term they had grown used to (unsurprising, given that it was part of their movement’s name). Some in the opposite camp disagreed, and believed what they were seeing was “the end of the ‘Gamer'”. This debate has continued. As games have become more mainstream over time, why do we still use the label we had before, when we were looked down upon? Why do we want to hold onto the time during which we were “nerds”?

So, is the “Gamer” dead? No, I doubt that. Should it be? I don’t know. I’m personally inclined to say ‘no’. Don’t get me wrong, I see the reasoning behind those who say the term is obsolete, but I think the danger isn’t with the term, it’s with the identification.

We aren't all like this, but there is no denying that these people exist

We aren’t all like this, but there is no denying that these people exist

For some context: I’m in film school, currently. There are lots of film school kids who believe that to be in movies you have to “eat, breathe, and love film”. I think this is a, at best naive, and at worst, destructive, view of being involved in a medium. Nobody should define themselves by what they do. Categorize, maybe, but never define themselves. People who say “X is my life” are people who need a wider scope in their life. I want to make movies for a living, true, but those movies are made irrelevant if not backed up by other interests. I love history, so I can make historical movies, or documentaries. I love literature, so maybe I can do book or story adaptions. To see all of life in only one context, though, is disadvantageous. As Extra Credits once expressed, and I’m paraphrasing, good game designers are technical, great game designers are well rounded.

These guys can probably still go home and watch House of Cards like normal people/.

These guys can probably still go home and watch House of Cards like normal people.

Now, this applies to all titles. “Nerd” is the same way. If you have no interests in anything that isn’t nerdy, or look down upon “mainstream” things, that’s an ignorant view. Or, if you are a “retro gamer”, and you snub all modern games, you need to extend your horizon. I consider myself a gamer, but that is only a facet of me as a gamer. Within that subtext, I am also a shooter player, a Nintendo fan, a PC gamer. None of that is exclusive! Outside of that, I am also a Triviaddict, a soda enthusiast, a film buff, an actor, and a traditional pop fanatic. On even more general terms, I am an American, an Alabamian, and so forth. You’ll never see me, however, trying to fit everything I do within the context of being from Alabama. The only danger in labels is the difference between self-categorization and self-definition. If you consider yourself a gamer to the point that you have almost no non-gaming interests, or you look down upon non-gamers, that’s an issue. If you just use it as a description, I’d say it’s rather benign.

You have to ask yourself: if tomorrow, video games were wiped away from the face of the earth, It’s a Wonderful Life style, how would it affect you? If you feel like it would be akin to an identity crisis; that you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself, you probably need to reexamine whether “Gamer” is a damaging term to you. Myself, as someone who spends his time writing about gaming: I would be upset, invariably, but it wouldn’t destroy me. I have other things to write about and express my thoughts on. So, the debate over labels is not as much an issue of words, but an issue of self.

So: Are you a gamer? And if so, what does that mean?

Further Reading

Extra Credits – So You Want To Be a Game Designer

Extra Credits – “Gamer”

Forbes – The Gamer Is Dead: Long Live The Gamer

Series NavigationFurther Reading: Either You Die an Indie… >>
What do you think of this post?
  • Hop! 
visage

About Daniel Lamplugh

Daniel Lamplugh is a guy who spends his spare time writing about things he knows nothing about. And reviewing soda on his Instagram, which he knows a lot about. He also has a massive amount of knowledge of Jazz and Traditional Pop music history, despite not being able to play any instruments.

5 Comments

  1. great read

  2. I’ve never really considered myself a gamer, for much the same reasons that though I studied philosophy and played hockey, I didn’t consider myself a philosopher or hockey player. I’m a librarian because that is my title. It is what I do professionally. Those other things I did for fun.

  3. I’m a gamer and a skater. Just don’t call me a nerd 🙂

  4. I have to say: I agree very much with this piece.

    I agree that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the term “gamer.” I would call myself a gamer — simply because, by definition, I am a person who plays video games. If people want to read into that too far or make judgement/assumptions/presumptions/what-have-you, whatever, I don’t care.

    And it’s because gaming isn’t The Most Important Thing in my life that I have the freedom not to care. Me being a gamer will always be a secondary, even tertiary, identity. I mean, I’d never capitalize the friggin’ word. Eesh.

    The idea of gaming being The One Thing that whips you into a raging froth, the one single item in life that you are passionate about… not only do I believe that is wrong, and bad, but vocally so, and I plan on being vocal about that. Games are supposed to be diversionary pursuits, a stress relief and a recreation, not a defining characteristic.

    But anyway, yeah. Etc. Good stuff here.

  5. The term implies video gamer and I’m not a hardcore video gamer. I generally game, but spend most of my time LARPing. The term won’t become more inclusive due to GamerGate; in fact GG has made people want to label themselves in more esoteric ways because many don’t want to be associated with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *