So, I was reading an article yesterday called “Play a game or watch a game?” The article was actually in response to my previous article, (the one about Let’s Play videos) and it poses an important question. Does simply watching a series of LPs make you a gamer, or are you a gamer if you only play games?
That question only gives you two possible answers, so let me ask you a broader question instead: what makes a gamer? It’s a question that is becoming increasingly difficult to answer as gaming evolves and envelopes so many different forms of media. I think I can safely assume that I’m a gamer, but does that mean you have to do everything I do to be a gamer? No, it doesn’t. The tough thing is, defining a “gamer” with one set-in-stone definition is absolutely impossible. We can only vaguely try to describe what being a gamer means to us, so that’s what I’m going to do here. I’ll tell you what I think makes a gamer, and I want everyone who reads this to leave a response below. Tell me: what makes a person a gamer? Are you a gamer, and why do you think you “qualify?
I think that being a gamer involves a few main points. First of all, you have to have a love for games. No, just because you can play Minecraft for a dozen hours straight, you’re not automatically a gamer. Many people tend to think that if they play one game and devote themselves to it, they’re a gamer. For example “I play Black Ops II, and I’m a Prestige Level 8. That means I’m a gamer.” No, it doesn’t.
Is it possible to be a gamer that devotes most of their playtime to a single game? Yes, that’s entirely possible, but if you do that without looking and trying the other options around you, you’re not a gamer. Let me translate this: are you a “foodie” if you only like to eat pizza and hotdogs? No, of course not! The same concept applies here: you’re not a gamer if you just play one game or one genre. A gamer is open to playing many genres and taking in all the amazing experiences the community has to offer. If you have a tendency to lean toward one genre (whether slightly or heavily) then that’s fine. But if you never give other genres a chance or rule them out completely, you’ve lost your gamer card.
Therefore, in short, a gamer is somebody who appreciates gaming and has a respect for all genres, even if they don’t like them. Secondly, a gamer must be polite, kind, and respectful. I’m a chivalrous person; I wish chivalry were more prevalent in our modern society. I’m just not a mean guy, and some call me a goody-two-shoes for it, but oh well. My point is, as gamers, we can’t be disrespectful, racist, sexist, overly profane, etc. We’ve got to set a good example, and we have to show others that gaming is truly an art form that deserves respect. We cannot obtain this respect if we’re disrespectful to others in our own community.
If you get killed by a cheap headshot, a curse word or two might be acceptable or appropriate. However, don’t go spewing a whole string of them at the poor soul who happened to get a lucky shot. That’s not chivalrous, it isn’t kid or respectful, and it definitely doesn’t improve our standing as opposed to fans of other types of media. In the online sphere, we have to prove that we’re a cut above the rest. As gamers, we have a standard to uphold; we’re the “professionals” of the industry. Go read an article on IGN or in Game Informer, then grab a headset and listen to the kids in a COD match. Who comes off as the real gamer here? The one who can convey their feelings civilly, or the one who rants and rages? A gamer is respectful to others, whether they like games or hate them.
Third, a gamer must be open-minded. This point is somewhat a mashup of the previous two. As gamers, we have to see the viewpoints of other people and accept them. The reason we have so many genres is because everyone likes something different. As gamers, we are diverse, and we have to accept and respect that diversity. If you like puzzle games, and the guy next to you on the bus likes stealth games, then that’s great; discuss your differences and accept them. Bond over them; learn more about each other because of the differences you both exhibit. If he thinks Rayman is a better platformer than Mario, deal with it. When we tear down other people and their views, it makes it hard to be respected in return by other gamers, and people looking at us from an outside point of view.
I’m going to draw one more parallel: gamers are viewed by non-gamers the way outsiders look at those in the dome in the “Gone” series by Michael Grant. Long story short, a nuclear power plant causes an impenetrable, opaque dome to cover an area with a diameter of 20 miles (if I remember correctly). All the adults are plopped outside the dome, and all the kids under 18 are still inside. They mutate due to the radioactivity, and one day, the dome goes from opaque to clear. The adults can see that their children have become savage mutants; they’re killing each other in gruesome ways, and they don’t know why; they simply see outrageous, inhuman and inhumane destruction and genocide. They don’t understand what their kids have been through to get to that point (and let me tell you, it isn’t pretty).
How does that relate to gamers? We’re the kids in the dome, and non-gamers are the parents looking in. They see us attacking each other, sending death threats to publishers, cursing at each other, and destroying the gaming community due to our insensitivity. They don’t understand our conflict, so they see us as savages, hence the “GTA causes kids to murder their grandparents, and Sandy Hook was caused by shooter games” mentality. They think we’re killers with a short temper. That’s why gamers have to be accepting of the views of others, and we can’t be so quick to tear them down. Gamers must be tolerant. If we aren’t, people will see us as the kids in the dome.
Away from morals and values, simply playing games and trying different genres makes you a gamer. Personally, I cover all my bases. I read game related books, I watch LPs, I listen to game themed music, I write gaming articles, I play all sorts of genres, and I have taken a game design class. Is all that necessary to be a gamer? No; I do that since I’m so deeply involved in what I do, but that doesn’t mean I’m any more a gamer than you are. A gamer is a gamer, and that is all. One gamer is as good as the next; all gamers are equal if they can live up to the three basic criteria listed above. If you can’t follow those three rules, you’re not a gamer. Period.
Video games are amazing. They open worlds to new forms of thought. They show us new creations and inventions that our own minds could never imagine. Games are truly unique and awesome, and as gamers, we need to reflect that and protect our beloved form of media. We have to show others how amazing games can be, so as gamers we have a lot to prove. I take gaming serisouly, and I take my role as a gamer seriously. Do you?
So, I need your input. Tell me what makes a gamer in your eyes. What did I miss? Add your thoughts in the comments below!
Then, if you so desire, leave a like or a follow, as I appreciate it immensely. Take a look at the Let’s Play channels in the “Links” tab, and have a nice day.
For Gamers Everywhere