PixieJenni talks GamerGate with both 'sides'

What is a Gamer? (part 2)

on September 24, 2014

Some answers may have been merged – ie, where I’ve been given the same link/article/answer multiple times, I will just include link with a note of how many people answered with this in the format: [article](x5)

Some answers may not be included if they misunderstood the question – they may instead have moved to ‘bonus’ as a section. Will highlight if that is the case.

People are anon if they didn’t explictly say “call me x”. Email me again if you want to change that 🙂Anon referencing consistent within this topic, but not with others.

1. What, in your opinion, makes a gamer a gamer? 

Anon8: “People who are identified and who identify themselves as being video game enthusiasts. How much enthusiasm you need to have in order to be considered an enthusiast is an interesting question in and on itself. There was a thing in the nineties, you’re not a hacker until another hacker calls you one. It’s a good way of understanding how identity works within social groups. Peer recognition. You got to have love for your hobby. I play guitar but I don’t consider myself a guitarist.”


 Anon9: “Gamer is whose main source of entertainment are videogames”


Anon10: “A gamer is a person who plays games as their favourite form of pasttime.”


Anon11: “Ah yes, that is the question isn’t it? Is someone who runs across the street a runner? Is someone who buys expensive running clothes in the same category as a guy who just don’s sweat pants and jogs for 20 minutes everyday? I’m going to cop out and say that that a gamer is someone who plays games, enjoys games, and considers themselves a gamer. But please, please realize this question is more complicated than it appears, and there has long been debate over casual gamers, hardcore gamers, etc.”


Nathan: “If they’re a game enthusiast, meaning they consider it a hobby, they’re a gamer.”


Anon12: “someone who enjoys playing games, and plans to play games in the future”


Anon13: “Playing and being somewhat interested/invested in videogames.”


Anon14: “I think it’s a level above someone who just plays games – for that reason, I wouldn’t include someone who, say, plays Candy Crush Saga on the travel to work as a gamer. That would be, in my opinion, someone who plays games, but is not a “gamer”. A gamer, to me, is someone who would consider it part of their weekly ritual, something that would impact them if one day it simply didn’t exist anymore. For example, I usually play video games on the weekend to wash away the stress of the week (though my moderation needs some work!). I would hate to see them go.”


Anon15: “In my opinion, a gamer is not simply someone who has ever played a video game of any kind. I believe that the term “gamer” refers to game enthusiasts, those whose preferred method of spending their free time is to play and talk about video games. Regardless of how much free time the person actually has, or what kinds of games they play, a gamer is someone who prefers video games to most other forms of entertainment.”


Anon16: “The love for videogames.”


Anon17: “A gamer is someone who finds real-life value in playing games. It may be a way to get in touch with people or it may be a way to model and understand the world. Just playing for pure escapism does not make a gamer in my opinion. However, the instant you move from simply mowing down hordes of monsters to mowing down hordes of monsters together with friends, or considering what mowing down hordes of monsters actually means, – you are then a gamer.”


2. Do you think gamers should care about social/political content in games, or just whether they’re fun/enjoyable at all?

Anon8: “That’s a bit of a loaded question. I don’t know if you’re referring as gamers under the definition I just gave above, or gamers as anybody who is playing the video game, but it doesn’t matter as both can be addressed by the same answer. I could go for page after page explaining Propaganda Games and how they are dangerous but Extra Creditz did a 9 minute video explaining it better than anybody else. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UP4_bMhZ4gA

By the way, their whole series is amazing and unique. It gives a look on games from a designer’s point of view. I’ll refer to things mentioned on these series many times along my answers. I’m not gonna say if gamers should or not, but I’ll affirm that they DO. A good portion of the people involved in GamerGate is there because they don’t want agenda pushing of any kind on their hobby. Now, since gamers as a community are divided between the genres they enjoy the most, you’ll see some people much more interested in this content than others.

The vast majority of FPS players are more interested in what kinds of weapons and mechanics they can play around with, yet you’ll see people concerned that all these players (did you spot the word that I used there? Players.) spend their afternoons killing muslins and Russians. Does it matter if you hate the ethnicity of the virtual guy you’re shooting? Nope. Just take a look at how successful games like Halo were. I for one am a fan of Grand Strategy Games.

You’re probably not familiar with this genre as it is not very popular (think Spreadsheets On Europe) but it allow players to do atrocities and get rewarded for it. Most Paradox Interactive games from their historical simulation series (Crusader Kings, Europa Universalis, Victoria and Hearts of Iron) allow you just outright commit genocide on countries you invaded, giving you mechanisms to use totalitarian control in order to expand your country. Hearts of Iron even lets you play as Hitler.

But all – ALL, and I’m not generalizing here, it’s ALL – GSG players understand the underlying political connotations of the actions you’re taking. When I click that button that says “force cultural conversion” and it gives me a population penalty for 30 years in that province, I understand that I’m clicking on a Commit Genocide button. I click it anyway, because mechanically it’s a good decision. The moral implications of what I’m doing are not lost to me even though the game doesn’t rubs in my face that in the game I’m literally worse than Hitler.

Should this mechanic be removed because it enforces that genocide gives you rewards? No. GSGs aim to be more like simulators than strategy games (like Civilization or Age of Empires), and since sadly history has provided us with plenty of examples where genocide happened and the invading culture got away with it, taking it away would mud the reflection of reality, especially so when the political and social implications of your decisions on these games are a big part of the core engagement. Find me a Crusader Kings player that doesn’t develop a purpleboner for the Byzantine Empire after a while, and I’ll give you a dollar.

So, to summarize. If you take away the social political context of games where it is not part of the core engagement, nobody’s going to care. But if you take away from games where its part of its core, people will get mad and the game will be diminished for it.”


Anon9: “Games could have political/social views, i enjoy those especially Deus EX franchise, but i dont i dont want them to be restrained to always fit one single political view”


Anon10: “I think fun/enjoyment is the primary factor for gamers but it’s not impossible that someone actually finds the games with social/political content to be more fun.”


Anon11: ” Depends on the context. And the gamer. I do think that games should be games first. If the message trumps content, and the gameplay is bad, it wouldn’t be a very good game. That said the freedom of the creator is most important.”


Nathan: “That’s entirely up to them. If they’re playing games because they agree with the politics, even though they think the gameplay sucks, they’re not someone I’d understand, though.”


Anon12: “thats the thing, nobody HAS TO care about things like that, but everybody should be allowed to. Games, like all forms of media, are evolving. constructive critisism is one of the most important parts of that happening.”


Anon13: “That’s the person’s prerogative.”


Anon14: “I think social and political commentary is important to some extent, and when it is used in games it can make for incredibly enthralling and interesting stories (for example, race issues in the Mass Effect universe like the genophage). However, one thing I absolutely despise is when the creative direction of a video game is compromised in favour of what the media finds “offensive, racist, or sexist”. These critics are by all means free to review a game poorly because of something they find unfavourable (reviews are, after all, opinion pieces), and then the reviews themselves can be help to scrutiny, but to actively campaign against them and for it to be the only narrative? It is extremely callous and in fact rude to the developers, especially when they are critiquing on an unreleased game. It would be like me criticising someone for painting something red on a canvas, where in fact the final colour is purple, and the colour blue had not yet been added to make the finished product.”


Anon15: “I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. It is entirely up to the gamer to decide what they want in the games they play. I simply believe that a game’s mechanics and narrative should work together to create an experience. A game with a heavy focus on story can get away with sub-par gameplay because it is likely that the person who bought that game was primarily interested in experiencing the story. Similarly, a game with a heavy focus on mechanics can get away with a less compelling narrative because the people who purchased that game likely were primarily interested in playing something fun. As far as social or political content in games, gamers have the right to feel any way they choose about that content. Some will care about it, others won’t. What one person finds offensive, another person may find acceptable. If a gamer has an issue with the social/political implications of a particular game, they can simply choose not to buy it. However, no single political agenda should ever be aggressively pushed upon the game development community at large. Developers should feel free to create a game with any message, or lack thereof, that they wish. Gamers vote with their dollars; if a developer or franchise showcases a morality with which most or many gamers disagree, gamers will stop buying their products, and they will stop being able to sustain their business.”


Anon16: “Critizism on social/political content is completely valid. But on the question if a gamer SHOULD care about it, I’d say no The gamer has no obligation to think of the social/political content beyond whether it enriches the gameplay or not.”


Anon17: “Gamers care about both fun and idea content. In fact, a game being fun is a symptom of an idea being well-represented. Shadow of the Colossus, Bastion, The Last of Us – all great examples of this.”


3. Do you think “gamer” is equivalent to “movie-watcher” or does it mean something more/different?

Anon8: “No. We have a word for that. Players. Like I said, I play guitar, I’m a guitar player, but I’m not a guitarist.”


Anon9: “yes, its equivalent”


Anon10: “Not sure.”


Anon11: “I think I already covered this. I do think it’s different, simply due to the differences in the medium. In movies you are passive. In games you are an active participant.”


Nathan: “Well, yeah, I suppose. It’s more of an enthusiast than someone that occasionally spends a Friday night seeing some blockbuster, but it’s not quite on the same level as a cinephile.”


Anon12: “thats something i havent thought about yet. My first instinct was to say, “Gamer spent more time playing games than someone would watch a movie”, but i can not actually be sure of that. The only difference i can tell at the moment, is that since most mainstream media still has some form of negative attitude towards gamers, its more “We are presented differently” than “We are different”. I’d assume this will change in the next few generations.”


Anon13: “Never really heard anyone identify as a “movie-watcher” (“- I also breathe oxygen and digest food”) but I would say “gamer” is closer to something like “movie fan” or “cinephile””


Anon14: “I would liken a gamer to a film buff rather than just a movie-watcher. But that makes the term “gamer” no less inclusive and no less diverse.”


Anon15: “I think a more applicable comparison would “movie buff” or “cinephile.” The identity of gamer, to me at least, implies that one is passionate about the games he or she plays, not simply that he or she plays them.”


Anon16: No answer given.


Anon17: “I don’t feel the notion of “Gamer” is very different from “Movie buff” or “Avid reader”, as long as games, movies and books are treated as potentially meaningful and/or bonding experiences. The social stigma related to term “Gamer” is nothing new and is something any new form of media had to go through. Though games had it harder, because games are a more demanding media time-wise than books or movies tend to be. I don’t consider that a fundamental difference, though.”



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