Answering Big Questions #007: Defining Gamer (again)

After my last Answer to a Big Blogging Question, I’m happy to report this is a topic that does not get me nearly as riled up. Usually.

This is a question I’ve actually already talked about and subtly answered before the well-regarded Well-Red Mage posed his seventh Big Blogging Question. If left to my own devices, I would stand by what I spoke about before: if you play a game, whether it is on a console, a PC, or a mobile device, you are a gamer.

The end. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!

I’m just kidding. Of course there’s more to this issue than just my opinion. I’ve unfortunately been around the internet long enough to know that gamers are often categorized into three categories: “hardcore,” “casual,” and “non.” Interesting, these categories are often assigned by the people who put themselves in the “hardcore” category, and not by any sort of agreed-upon standard.

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Personally, I find this to be a ridiculous way to categorize people. After all, if I were to stick my nose up and say that you aren’t really a reader because you don’t read as much as I do, that would be ridiculous. If I said that Irving Berlin, Ella Fitzgerald, and Bob Dylan weren’t real musicians because they didn’t hold any degrees or “formal” education in music, you would think I was mad.

But here we are: if you don’t play X amount of hours per week, or if you don’t play this or that certain type of game, you’re a casual. And Maker forbid you play mobile games. Those people are “real” gamers at all.

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Let’s face it, people. If you’re not getting paid to play video games for a living, you’re a casual gamer. You’re a hobbyist. Your hands get just as sweaty as anyone else’s when holding your controller/mouse/whatever.

I would think that we should be happy that people are enjoying our medium. Perhaps, if you play games more than someone else, you might have more insight into games, or maybe your relationship to games is different, but I never heard Roger Ebert – a professional who was paid to watch and critique movies – say that the general public couldn’t enjoy a movie, or couldn’t be “real” cinephiles (and just to remind you all, a cinephile is simply someone who greatly enjoys movies. They are movie enthusiasts in the same way we are game enthusiasts).

But I digress. I’m not going to comment on the type of people who are so defensive about hardcore vs. casual gamers, because from my experience when haunting message boards, they usually seem to the be same people who think women aren’t real gamers, and I don’t want two of these Big Answers to be me being angry about something.

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In every hobby, there are people who have achieved a high level of mastery, and at that point, we usually see two types of characteristics come out: one type of person will see themselves as “elite” and look down on all the plebeians who have not achieved their high and mighty level of skill (who I lovingly refer to as “insecure in their actual abilities”), and the other type of person will see that they have a certain level of mastery, but realize that their hobby is still a hobby that can be enjoyed in many ways without making anyone feel bad about themselves (who I lovingly refer to as “self-assured and self-possessed”).

Did that seem too biased? Nah…

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At the end of the day, I really can’t abide by the whole “hardcore” and “casual” nonsense. There are different genres of games that different people enjoy, and even within those games people enjoy the games in the ways that are the most fun for them (a novel concept, I know). You clocked 3598461687 hours in Skyrim? Cool. But that still doesn’t make you more of a gamer than I am, clocking in at about 75 hours. We just enjoy our games differently.

So… in my opinion, if you play a video game as a means of entertainment, or if you play a video game to make money, you are a gamer.

Keep calm and game on.

What do you think? Do you believe that there is a hierarchy of “gamer” descriptions? Should there be? Why or why not? Let’s chat more in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~ Athena

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17 comments

  1. I think that there’s clearly a perceived hierarchy, at least for some that enjoy the entertainment medium. Should there be though? In my opinion no. We’re all gamers essentially enjoying the same things in different ways. At a very base level, that’s all that should matter.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. It just sucks that people don’t all view it that way. Elitist and bullying attitudes are just plain awful regardless. Still, I find that in most activities, I come across people that I enjoy hanging out with and people I don’t. I suspect that if I gamed online more, I’d find plenty that wind me up due to their attitude. The key – for me at least – is finding the people that I like interacting with and focussing my time on them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The elitism that amounts to bullying is staggering coming from a group that complains about having been bullied in high school. I really like the equating of casual to non-professional. That puts things in a very clear light.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to these!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, right? I guess it’s like how bullies are generally people who aren’t too happy with themselves to begin with… hm… I’m glad you liked that analogy, too.

      Thank you for another great questions! (even though I think I somehow pre-gamed a little bit haha)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This jerk elitist nonsense on the internet just makes me laugh. Good for you for beating a game on super-crushing difficulty… I’m glad you enjoyed spending all that time banging your head against the wall and gained a sense of accomplishment from that misery. If you think I’m a lazy casual for cruising through the game on easy just to have fun, well, I don’t really care at all. 🙂

    As for women not being gamers, I came across a lot of that mentality during my 8 years in WoW. Most people just assumed my female Night Elf Druid character was a dude IRL and I just gave up trying to “prove” otherwise. I just wanted to get the shiny lootz from the group activities I had to do. I stopped caring about what gender those idiots thought I was in real life. *shrugs*

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yep. I always say that I judge people based on how they treat service people. How you treat people who have no real bearing on your life is the best indicator of who you are. And unfortunately some of the internet throng don’t really understand that.

      Hobbies are not things people should be required to “prove” anything for. Prove to me you like music as much as I do. Go ahead.

      How ridiculous, right??

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah, the git gud crowd. I am happy to say that the segmentation of media covering and discussing videogames makes it much easier to ignore them. I only know what they are up to these days thanks to websites like Point & Clickbait or satire videos like Commentocracy.

    To answer your question, I agree with you. To say you are more of a gamer because you play more hours or in a harder mode, is every bit as ridiculous as to say you love music the most because you spend more hours listening to it, collect vinyls or like “the right genres”. It is utterly ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Commentocracy!! And yes, so much of the gaming world seems to be “niches” now – reporting and otherwise – that it’s easy to just side-step negativity. Of course, that just creates echochambers, which I guess can also be a different sort of issue…

      I think it’s less of a gaming issue and more of a “people need to feel good about themselves” issue. And it then creates a vicious cycle as people then try to either defend themselves or “out-enjoy/master the thing” the other person.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is something really satisfying about hearing those kind of ridiculous takes in a pompous aristocratic voice.

        Yes. I guess I instinctively see side-stepping the negativity as the lesser evil, but you are right about echo-chambers being a problem of their own. Especially when they start generating negativity themselves by way of new unquestionable opinions/beliefs/discourse. Also, outside of the discussion regarding games in general, fandom echo-chambers can become very nasty without any of that “true gamer” stuff.

        Agreed. This is just my personal experience, but the worst cases of “I am better than everyone because I enjoy this hobby/thing more” I have encountered were in music and, of all places, a freaking webseries.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Good old Tönnies was right, it’s all about society vs. community. Gamers make a society because there is a huge number of them, playing so many different genres and games in so many different ways that it’s simply pointless to call anyone a “pro” or “noob”. Such type of hierarchy only makes sense in video game communities, relatively small groups of people playing the same game and, importantly, communicating and interacting with other. So unless we’re playing an online shooter together as teammates, or exchanging posts at the same forum, I don’t give a damn when you call ma a casual or worse.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with the spirit of this. The scope of games is so large that one person might be a master at FPSs and not be able to function in an RPG, and another is great at a rhythm game and totally bomb an adventure game. My only question is why is it ever considered okay to insult someone you don’t know? Or do you mean that you only care about the hierarchy in the genre of your choice?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Obviously, it’s never okay to insult anyone, be it in real life or online. My experience is that when you get to know another player reasonably well, whether you play together or have a discussion in your blog comments, they may even use harsh words in a joking way but your response to their criticism is constructive, that is, you’re trying to figure out why you screwed up and be better next time. If it’s just a random teenager popping up in the game chat and calling you words, you just shrug it off and don’t care about their opinion.
        Now, it’s not just about different genres but even individual games, each having its own fanbase. Someone can be good at speedruns, other people beat the hardest difficulty and get all the achievements. Others may be not so skilled, but they finish the game anyway and they write an insightful review or great fanfic stories. So, it makes no sense to call somebody a “worse” player. Come one, video games ARE a serious matter, but players shouldn’t take themselves too seriously.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s identity. You will never roust as much anger as you do when you challenge someone’s identity. And when someone’s identity is wrapped up in the labels they apply to themselves, seeing other people doing the same type of things for which they would use labels leads to a lot of small offenses that they really shouldn’t be taking so personally. It’s far from being specific to ‘gamers’ but it’s still an ugly side to human nature.

    In my personal gaming cultural hierarchy, there’s me. And then somewhere below that, there’s everyone else. See, that way, everyone’s equal. Except for me. That’s much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Don’t you just adore gatekeeping?? It’s right up there with “fake gamer girls doing it for attention* If you define yourself as a gamer then you’re a gamer. Even if you haven’t played in a while. The one-up-manship is one of the reasons I stopped talking about games IRL and on social media, because that’s ALL it was about. Who was the biggest gamer *rolls eyes* I just wanted to talk about games without people bashing everything and not letting people just enjoy things, but I think those who think like that have something to prove, and it pulled me in that direction. I still find myself thinking like that and judging myself. It’s hard to get out of and so freaking toxic.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, that sounds about right. Can’t we all just get along, play some video games, and smush some bad guys?? And you’re right that when you’re surrounded by a way of thinking, it’s really hard to not adopt it for yourself, especially if that’s how “The Community” acts and, subconsciously, expects you to act, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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