What is a gamer? We rarely ask that question because we are usually certain what a gamer is. If you’re reading this, then chances are you see one in the mirror every morning. Being a gamer, however, is not the same thing anymore. When I say ‘what is a gamer?’ I mean ‘what is a person whose lifestyle involves, or is based around, playing video games?
I consider myself a gamer, and I have a friend who plays video games but he does not identify as a gamer. How we play games are entirely different. His gaming ‘methods’ are incoherent to say the least, and consisted of running around like a chicken without a head blasting zombies, the Ai survivors and pretty much anything without knowledge of what he was doing. We barely survived any round of any game we played. I’m not mad at him.
Casual gamers were essentially created as a result of games attempting to reach out to a wider audience. Games like Call of Duty and GTA, games with no inherent tie to fantasy or sci-fi, appealed to people who might enjoy games if they were less ‘nerdy’. While good games by most standards (in quality, this isn’t a morality topic), they essentially teared a hole in the boundary between gamers and the rest of society. People who never even played games before enjoyed a universe they could identify with, but one that didn’t have the same boundaries.
And since then that has been the focus of the gaming industry. It must be remembered that any video game business is still a business, with profit being the number one priority. Instead of cultivating the gamer lifestyle, companies tend to capitalize on it.
There would normally be a tenuous to kinship-like peace between these two groups who share a common hobby albeit for different reasons, but recent conditions in the gaming industry are creating a Cain and Abel esc effect.
First and foremost, there is a freezing tension between the two over the favoritism of the gaming industry. As previously mentioned, game developers are businesses with the intention of making money. Their focus is primarily that, which means they will make games that appeal to the majority, which at the time is casual gamers. With that respect there isn’t enough in terms of time and energy to go around, which means that if the gaming industry is appealing to the majority, they will make games geared for casual gamers first, and then regular gamers if there is any money left to use. Strategy games, survival horrors and certain rpgs play second fiddle to games such as multiplayer oriented shooters and rhythm games. You can imagine how unhappy a pc gamer who loves FPS games will be when FPS’ stop being made. It already starting to happen with the rise of third person shooters.
I was a bit annoyed that my friend enjoys gaming only as a novelty when I practically view it as an art-form, so I can only imagine how often strangers meet under similar circumstances and create tension.
In the end video games mean many different things to different people. They can be art, culture, hobby, time waster and even a drug, but when people view games in one light and not the others it creates problems with those who don’t share the same beliefs.
I will continue to play video games with my friend, because he is my friend. Nothing will ever change that. My belief is that there is more to being a gamer than just playing games. Being a gamer means having a passion for everything gaming. What does that make people who just play games?
If I had it my way I’d give them the word “gamer”. For the rest of us it’s just life.