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COMMENT | "Gamer"

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
Features
Tags:
gamers

COMMENT | "Gamer"

No, this isn't an article about that lousy Gerard Butler flick. And I'm definitely not going to engage with the ongoing barrage of flashpoints and hashtags that have dominated certain corners of the internet lately.

Does that make me a coward? Yes, probably. But here's my excuse: right now the more vocal portions of the tubes seem to be taking 'sides' and drawing battle lines when there are actually a dozen complex and completely separate issues on the table. Some of which are specious, shortsighted and cruel tabloid paparazzi at its most shameless, whereas others are incredibly important and demand serious introspection. Untangling this sorry web will take time and understanding, and frankly, I'd rather write about videogames. Seeing as that's technically my job.

What I will write about, though, is the term "gamer," which has been a talking point for several years and is now back in the limelight. It's a term we use daily, but as the medium continues to evolve, many have argued that the label is outdated and we need something new, or perhaps need to stop using arbitrary labels altogether. Including myself on occasion. But, ultimately, I still identify myself as a "gamer," and I'd like to explain why now that the discussion is hotter than ever.

COMMENT | "Gamer"

On a very basic level, many of us writers love the term "gamer" because it's lazy shorthand. We use it interchangeably with "players," "people," or "people who enjoy playing videogames and are passionate about it as both as entertainment and a legitimate form of artistic expression." Which doesn't flow particularly well, let's face it. To be honest, I could probably stop there, but I'd like to dig a little deeper into why I still use the word.

One of the classic arguments for "gamer" being obsolete is that there isn't really an analogue in any other form of art or entertainment. Books don't have "bookers." Films don't have "filmers." Music doesn't have "musicers." Many pundits have made this point time and time again over the last few years, but for me, this line of reasoning ignores one of the most unique fundamental quirks about gaming and our relationship with it.

COMMENT | "Gamer"

See, a movie, novel, or painting (just as some obvious examples) are self-contained things. They need someone to appreciate them, but our relationship is largely passive beyond engaging with the themes, subtext or larger discussion. They broadcast at us while we sit back and take it all in. A book is still a book when you put it down. A painting still hangs on the wall. Once a film begins, it runs its course even if there's no-one in the cinema.

Games, conversely, are fundamentally interactive. Without a player to play them, to drive the character's movements, to make second-by-second decisions, to push the narrative forward or even just click on the 'next' button, they are literally nothing. Just lines of code or a motionless start menu. We conjure them into being and give them life. We are part of the art. "Gamer" seems, at least to me, to be rather appropriate - perhaps in the same vein as "musicians" are required to bring life to someone else's compositions.

COMMENT | "Gamer"

There's another reason why many of us balk at the idea of letting go, however. It wasn't so long ago that "gamer" was an insult, a smear loaded with negative preconceptions and even used as a verbal put-down in playgrounds or mainstream media. The rise of geek culture and shift from niche to the mainstream was a huge milestone, and many people feel that they've literally reclaimed the term from the people who used to torment them. As such, I can totally understand why so many have reacted to some of the more antagonistic headlines on the subject, even if the way they've reacted sometimes missed the original point of the discussion entirely.

But at the end of the day, you're free to identify yourself in any way you choose. If you want to label yourself by your hobby, by your pastime and passion, then go for it. There's no battle to be fought here, but if you love games, play games and want to call yourself a "gamer" then more power to you.

I certainly do. Right, time to crack on with some more previews.

Add a comment9 comments
abigsmurf  Sep. 4, 2014 at 12:01

Good article.

There's been a weird politicisation of gaming sites that you simply don't see with Film, TV etc, sites and whilst this trend may have been started with the best of intentions, all it's done is spread a lot of hate from all sides, usually directed at the other sides.

It's a bit sad that gaming sites that 'just' talk about gaming have become a rare thing. Even sadder still are some articles (including the 'Gamer' one which I suspect inspired this one) that seem to show that a lot of writers hold their readers in contempt and almost seem to see 'just' writing about games as beneath them.

I go to gaming sites because I want to know about gaming, not for the social politics (especially written by people who have zero qualifications to approach such complex subjects)..

phil16  Sep. 4, 2014 at 12:20


I go to gaming sites because I want to know about gaming, not for the social politics (especially written by people who have zero qualifications to approach such complex subjects)..


Thats why I like dealspwn. They talk about games and deals for games and nothing else. It nice and condensed and I can read it in a lunchtime at work. Keep it up guys. I rarely look elsewhere and it rare I come across a game I've not heard of (maybe a few indies in some obscure bundle).

I'm happy to call myself a gamer as I love games! (even if I have less time for it since parenthood arrived...)

Last edited by phil16, Sep. 4, 2014 at 12:21
Late  Sep. 4, 2014 at 12:56

Well said, Smurf & Phil.
Dealspwn get the balance just right, for me. It keeps up to date with games and deals (I like both - I'm a gamer and a dealer. Oh. Hang on. That latter one doesn't sound as it was intended! Ooh - I went on topic for a microsecond, there. How very unlike me.). And with the relatively small staff you can actually participate in a meaningful way - rather than "bigger" sites with their ("disqus" ugh) comment sections full of spammy comments that nobody will read or will want to trawl through - especially the author of the article.

Keep up the great work, lads :D

JonLester  Sep. 4, 2014 at 13:54

Cheers guys! :D

TheChappy  Sep. 4, 2014 at 18:01

Dealspwn yay! heh heh

snotters  Sep. 5, 2014 at 19:27

Playing Activision's "Remains of the Day" game (the spin off of the film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson as a butler and a maid) remains a gaming highlight, as does MDK 3 on the N64.

I guess you're right - games are pleasing for all, going forward!

TheChappy  Sep. 5, 2014 at 19:47

Playing Activision's "Remains of the Day" game (the spin off of the film starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson as a butler and a maid) remains a gaming highlight, as does MDK 3 on the N64.

I guess you're right - games are pleasing for all, going forward!


Im not sure if youre being serious or not? If you are, im a bit dissappointed. If youre not, youre going to have to be more obvious in future so lets touch base on that going forwards.

TheChappy  Sep. 5, 2014 at 20:00

Oh, and if you cant beat them.. encourage them. Thats how the saying goes isnt it?

Breadster  Sep. 8, 2014 at 14:58

Good article, I seem to have missed it when it was posted. I agree with the comments about Dealspwn too, it's the site I visit most for gaming news and one of only two I tend to post on (the other being Gamefaqs forums).

I like being able to actually talk to the writers on here, and the regulars.

Anyway, in regards to the actual article, I like to call myself a gamer. It's been my main hobby for as long as I can remember and I don't see that changing any time soon.

I'm also a musician, but I don't tend to refer to myself as one very often. I think saying you're a musician, film maker, artist, or anything like that tends to make people think you're arrogant, as if just by labeling yourself in that way you are saying "I'm more creative than you". If you just say you're in a band however, then you're suddenly super cool. :p

If you tell someone you're a gamer they either think it's cool because they're into games too, or they call you a geek, which is fine by me.

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