I Am No Longer A Gamer

152
I Am No Longer A Gamer

If a word has no meaning, or its meaning becomes obscured – what is the use of it?

I was sitting in the audience at Game-Tech, scribbling notes, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. Ron Curry, the CEO of the iGEA took the stage.

“We need to redefine what the word ‘gamer’ means,” he said.

I wrote that part down.

Later, another speaker hit the stage with some interesting statistics. In generational terms, 76% of Gen Y plays games. 90% of the frankly terrifying Gen Z plays games. Even 60% of Gen X, the generation that, insanely, my own parents are a part of, plays video games.

In short – if you’re not playing video games, you’re in the minority, and that got me wondering about the way we represent ourselves as ‘gamers’.

I suspect that calling yourself a ‘gamer’ arises from the need to define yourself in opposition to some imagined majority. I play games. I am a gamer. I am a gamer because you don’t play games, but I do.

I am a gamer.

But where to now? Nowadays everyone plays games– what word will we now use to define ourselves in opposition to the mainstream?

Recently, with the mass market embrace of gadgets like the iPhone, or consoles like the Wii or the DS, we’ve seen people distort the term ‘gamer’. I am a ‘hardcore’ gamer people say. Other people play games, but they don’t play hardcore games.

I am a ‘hardcore’ gamer.

What an utterly pointless, meaningless phrase.

Honestly, what is this strange insecurity? What is this identity crisis I’m supposed to identify with?

As a teenager you form groups, those groups twist and transform according to trends and fashions, but it’s all in a fumbling search for an identity, something that helps define you. As a teenager I was most definitely a ‘gamer’. I played games – but not everyone played games – therefore, I was a ‘gamer’.

Now I’m older. I’m far more at ease with myself, and I think that growth has been reflected in the games industry as a whole. Everyone plays games nowadays, so why do still have need of a word like ‘gamer’. My mum watches TV – I’ve never heard her refer to herself as a ‘TVer’. She’s a mother, a nurse and wife.

My dad watches sport; any sport, and it doesn’t even matter what sport it is. I’ve never heard him refer to himself as a ‘sporter’. He’s a father, a firefighter, a husband.

If you cringe each and every time you hear someone use the words ‘hardcore gamer’, or it’s more marketing friendly derivative ‘core gamer’ – then that is the correct reaction. Because those words have evolved as a selfish reflex – the reaction of a child who doesn’t want to share his/her toys, a teenager who can’t abide their parents listening to the same music they do. Surely we should be past that by now?

I for one vote that the words ‘hardcore gamer’ be obliterated from existence, smelted into the furnace where dead, meaningless words go to die – and while we’re at it, can we chuck the word ‘gamer’ in there too?

As ‘gamers’ we’ve made ourselves far too easy to market to. Like some bizarre Manchurian Candidate, our ears are designed to prick up in Pavlovian response anytime an executive barks the words ‘immersive’, ‘core’, ‘AAA’ – meaningless words. Words that don’t really say anything about games themselves – what they do, who they are for, whether or not they’re actually worth your time.

Everyone plays games now – practically everyone. And as time passes, as new generations come and go, that fact will become increasingly relevant. Do we really still need to define ourselves in opposition to a majority that no longer exists?

I play games – I will always play games.

But I’m no longer a gamer.

Comments

  • Agree absolutely – it is the need to identify and justify as “gamers” that has impeded acceptance into the mainstream. The fact is that gaming IS mainstream, the more everyone accepts it the less need there is for titles and stereotypes.
    The industry at large could handle this better – I’m looking at you GameTV basement dwellers…

  • mmm, I dunno. Your dad plays lots of sports, so he’s probably been referred to as a sportsman, or a sports nut, or whatever (obviously sporter isn’t a word). I’m happy to be referred to as a gamer. I just think there’s a lot more of us now. Perhaps we need better subcategories of gamers (hardcore definitely needs to go into the fire), but the fact remains.

    I play games – I will always play games.

    Thus, I’m a gamer.

  • AS my wife noted. The way I scratched my neck, dived for the biscuit tin and yelled at the kids the week my PS2 and computer broke “Game Junkie” might be an appropriate title for me.

  • No, the term gamer only applies to those who are enthusiastic about the industry and have embraced it.

    People who play iphone, any current nintendo etc… are NOT gamers, the simply play some games.

    Discussion over.

      • That’s a shame.

        Think about it, a “gamer” like myself, tends to be obsessed about gaming. We look forward to the release of games, we own every console available and our computers are constantly upgraded to the latest hardware for gaming.

        When I was around 13 I hand wrote a complex walkthrough for Resident Evil, with pictures, in a scrap book. I had several scrap books with clippings from over 200 gaming magazines I owned, chronologically following the release of titles that interested me. THAT is what makes me a gamer, the enthusiasm, making gaming a part of my life.

        I am now married with a child and my wife, the beautiful understanding woman that she is, doesn’t care that I have a room dedicated to gaming. Decorated with everything from Final Fantasy, God of War, Mega Man, Grand Theft Auto etc… to other interests of mine such as F1 and movies. In that room I have a PS3, PS2, PS, Xbox, Xbox360, Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, PC, PSP, Sega Megadrive, Sega Master System…. THAT is what makes me a gamer.

        Playing angry birds on your iphone during smoke breaks IS NOT BEING A GAMER.

        • Yeah, I understand your point – I just think that attitude is a bad hangover from the times when gaming was a niche hobby.

          • The word “gamer” originated as a result of people like us. We should not have to adopt a new name and assume that the word has evolved.

            It’s like, professional athletes who play soccer, they’re soccer players right? If I play soccer with a few mates on the weekend, just having fun, does that make me a soccer player? Or do I just play soccer on weekends? Should professional soccer players be forced into relabeling themselves?

          • I think your example confuses ones profession with ones hobbie/passion/pastime.

            Can I also suggest that it’s this attitude of requiring differentiation and recognition makes terms like gamer and hardcore gamer so repugnant. The attitude that ones level of investment to this hobby makes them superior to another is exactly the attitude that people should be seeking to move forward from if they ever want to obtain legitimacy.

            Console wars, hardcore gamers, all childish throwbacks to an era when we were all 14 year olds saving our allowances to buy our console of choice.

            We’ve grown older, perhaps we should all grow up a little.

        • Doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, there will always be someone who thinks they are vastly superior to everyone else.

          I play fruit ninja. Bow down before me!

      • I agree the term ‘gamer’ is no longer applicable to a single small group. As you pointed out most of society are now gamers at some level. But, I would argue, there are different levels of dedication. Those horrid terms “casual” and “hardcore” do in a way describe different ends of a spectrum. Yes there used to be a core group hidden away in basements thinking they had a monopoly on this new thing, with some sort of greasy digital hipster mentality โ€œI was into video gaming before it was cool to beโ€ type crap.
        Personally I would call those who see the occasional game and have a go as the everyday “gamer” while people who actively follow industry news and upcoming titles are “gaming enthusiasts” like most of the kotaku readership probably are. Much like in the movie industry where you have people who go to the cinema or rent a few DVDs on the weekends and then the “hardcore ” group that read empire magazine religiously and trawl rotten tomatoes, IMDB and various forums for news and set photos of upcoming flicks. The ones that watch the DVD a second and third time in order to listen to the different commentary tracks.

    • I think the undercurrent of elitism and exclusion in your post are the exact things I tried to avoid in mine, although we are more or less trying to make the same point.

    • Wait, so you’re saying someone who played the original Death Rally on their 486 DX/66 back in the 90’s shouldn’t relive it with the (very good) iphone port?

      You’re saying that someone who loved Metroid, Super Metroid, and Symphony of the Night so many years ago shouldn’t play Infinity Blade, made by Chair, who did a fantastic job with Shadow Complex and are continuing to do amazing things with the Unreal Engine?

      You’re saying don’t clock a hundred and eighty hours on Monster Hunter Tri, skip Mario Galaxy 1+2, and write off Donkey Kong Country Returns as “not core”. Dead Space: Extraction and HOTD: Overkill as titles that “real” gamers shouldn’t care about.

      So don’t agonise over getting through Fire Emblem on DS with all your party surviving; don’t scratch that classic x-com itch with Hunters on iOS or Ghost Recon on 3DS; don’t play anything on a console that doesn’t output to 1080p, because that means you’re not dedicated enough to be in this discussion.

      • I believe what he’s saying is that people who don’t care about games, but just play them (majority of iphone gamers) shouldn’t be called gamers

      • ^^^ THIS… to write off Nintendo as a company and as several various platforms just because you’d rather not associate yourself with the people who play casual games on said systems… shame… above listed games are just the tip of the iceberg, and I’d say the DS/3DS shouldnt be looked down upon as “Casual platforms”, because whilst there are a lot of casual games they also cater to a diverse range of games for all kinds of gamers, same should be said for the Wii… im not into these new iPhone or iPad games myself personally, but I see no logical reason why they should be written off as a platform for “gaming enthusiasts especially if there is potential for some great gaming experiences to be had…

    • I completely agree, I know a lot of people that are “gamers” by the definitions used to create such a large percentage, yet not a single one of them would know what mass effect, oblivion, skyrim or other AAA titles are. They play angry birds on iPhone and wii sports on the wii. If you still want to refer to them as gamers, then call them “casual gamers” and those of us who love games, but don’t have time to play them all the time (thus not “hardcore”) can still be “gamers” and have that word mean something.

      The only thing making the word gamer mean anything less or different is the inclusion of these people who know nothing about games or the industry. Playing games on the iPhone or wii does not put them on the same level of “gamerness” as us.

    • I understand tags/labels are sometimes useful, to make things easier when you wish to communicate certain attributes quickly with little explanation.

      Having said that, I generally hate being “labelled” by OTHER people, as it is someone else trying to define you with certain attributes in a simplistic way, that in all likelyhood will be at least partially innacurate in the connotations it comes with.

      It’s all very context and subject specific and different meanings can and will be infered by different people in different company and settings.

      To me its just like any other subject. For example; if asked if i like girls or guys by a stranger, i would say “I’m gay”. But with friends I might not use that label, as i know they would be more receptive to the more detailed/more accurate/less pc/more scientific/educated etc answer. It matters more to me usually, to define myself as accurately as possible to those who matter, and less to strangers.

      I don’t mind people using labels -except for cuntservatives who purposefully use certain words as negative mind triggers. Like how they have succesfully reappropraited words like “liberal” and “socialist” in contemporary political discourse, particulary in the US.

    • This post reeks of insecurity, like a kid frustrated at his brother for sharing his interests.

      “You CAN’T like it! It’s MY hobby!”

      Come on man, you say you’re married with a child now, yet you’re espousing this exclusive, insecure attitude of a 14 year old.

  • Not everyone plays games.
    A good number of people i associate with don’t play games and wouldn’t call themselves gamers.
    Therefore i refer to myself as a gamer.

    Its not due to a need to classify myself, or feel more secure in some form of minority.

    Some people like to fill their spare time primarily playing a sport, or going for a swim, or perhaps a long walk.

    In my spare time, besides smoking a few things i shouldn’t, i play games.
    I am a gamer.

  • My thoughts of a gamer is not just someone who plays games, but someone who plays games a lot e.g. plays a game whenever he/she has spare time.

    • Exactly. I reckon I wasn’t a gamer for a few years there but for the past year and a half its replaced television as my main night time entertainment.

      Now my wife, she plays games, but short things you can do as a distraction like Bejewelled or Words with Friends.

      So while games are ubiquitous these days, for some people such as myself they are a hobby for most others they are just a distraction.

  • I agree but I’m still so reluctant to give up the term “gamer”.

    I think it comes down to the response when you ask someone “are you a gamer?”.

    I mean, people who play Farmville on facebook all day and Angry Birds on the bus home will still probably say “no, not really”, whereas someone like myself who works all day just so I can afford to go home and turn on my Xbox will probably say “yes I am”.

    I’m not trying to be elitist, and I’m definitely steering clear of the term “hardcore gamer” or “recreational gamer” (like all games aren’t recreational) but the beauty of language generally is its ability to evolve.

    So maybe being a “gamer” has changed from someone who plays games, in any form, to someone who considers games a large (or middle-sized) part of their life?

    Just my 2 cents.

    • I mostly agree with this. I consider myself a gamer, but not a hardcore gamer — I hate that term. The games industry really needs to grow up.

    • I don’t want to let go of the hardcore or core gamer tag. I know it has come to mean a lot of negative things like elitism and is thrown around like a buzz word from the 80s but we do need to make a definition here.

      Like you say, there are gamers who love games and play often, it is a hobby they are invested in and often we follow the industry closely. Then there are those that just play games to pass the time when bored or when they have a few spare minutes.

      There is a difference between someone who loves books and reads every novel they can get their hands on and someone that will read a book once every few months. However in this case distinction is un-necessary, any book can be read by anyone, but is this true to games?

      I am a ‘core’ gamer, I enjoy most games, however I am more likely to enjoy a game that is challenging to an experienced gamer. That isn’t too heavy on hand holding and knows that I have played games like this in the past. I want some complexity and I really like it when games find new things to do.

      However the ‘casual’ gamer will not enjoy those things as much. They will be less experienced and will need more hand holding. They will prefer less competitive games or complex games and will prefer games they can just pick up and play. They won’t know if Mirror’s Edge was a good attempt at something knew that fell short or if Angry Birds is another incarnation of a physics based game that has existed for years.

      There is no reason why both groups can’t enjoy games but there are some games that are clearly more likely to be for one group or another. I don’t want to act elitist but there are games that are dumbed down for the more ‘casual’ audience, and there are games that are made more complex for the ‘core’ audience.

      I do agree that the concept of the gamer and not gamer isn’t just whether you play games. I think it is more how you view them, if they are your passion or your way to pass the time. And even if the current words used to describe these two groups do have some negative connotation we will always need some kind of distinction between them. Not so we can draw lines and be elitist, but so we can know our differences and know what appeals to us.

  • I’ve always hated the ‘hardcore” term, and indeed adopting a title for something that I do. We tend to describe ourselves as the job we do (I say to people “I’m a journalist” for example) which really is no less absurd. In our society I guess our primary, socially-acceptable function is our work, but of course we try not to let that define us. I wouldn’t call myself a gamer despite having played games all my life, because I do other stuff too! It like how people are surprised to learn I listen to heavy metal – people expect a metal fan to be head to toe black with long hair and spikes coming off them. Titles are just restricting, superficial and exclusive.

  • I feel this sentiment exactly. People ask me a lot if I’m a gamer or girl gamer. I always say no – I just like playing video games. Most of my free time is usually dedicated to playing video games. I’ve worked in two very different roles within the industry.

    I’m still not a gamer. But some people love the title of “gamer”, “hardcore gamer”, “casual gamer” or “girl gamer”. If people want to hold on to that for the sake of some sort of identity, then let them be. Their fault if they get sucked into the marketing.

    We let people call themselves “artists” when they can barely manage something past stick figures, or a “photographer” when they know how to use the macro feature on their Sony Cybershot. May as well let gamers be, too.

      • I can certainly agree with that. The whole “girls play games now, too!” marketing angle that seems so prevalent on Facebook and other advertising sources is not only pretty sexist, it’s just plain offensive to girls who have always played games (like, before it was cool?).

  • I agree.

    It’s a sign of insecurity that people self-adopt (or worse, accept from an external source) an identifying label. Entrenching difference and ‘apartness’ through identity politics is hardly ideal for any group wishing to be seen as part of the mainstream.

    Let alone one that now is the mainstream.

    In the case of gaming it perpetuates myths and frankly doesn’t match up with reality.

    I think your last point is great: “Do we really still need to define ourselves in opposition to a majority that no longer exists?”

  • There still needs to be a word that I can call myself the let everyone know. Not only do I play games like you, but I play more variety, more complex, more frequently and worse still, while not gaming I’m thinking about gaming.

    You can have gamer. I’m claiming TAYbie as our new word we can be proud of.

  • People call me different things depending on my actions.
    When facebook updates show I played games, I’m called a gamer.
    When I go to the gym at lunch time, I’m called a gym freak.
    When I drink a protein shake, I’m called a roids user.
    When I order a controller board and electronics, I’m called a geek.
    Fuck’em, I call myself superior and emperor, as soon as others realise this, we’ll get a long better.

  • I am a gamer because I enjoy playing games.

    I am a movie buff because I enjoy watching movies.

    I am an avid reader because I enjoy reading books.

    I am a sports fan because I enjoy watching sports.

    I am a couch potato because I enjoy watching TV shows.

    I am a writer because I enjoy writing.

    I am a coffee snob because I enjoy drinking coffee.

    All of these things are part of what defines me, but each individual thing is not me.

    “Hardcore”, “core” and “casual” are dirty words to me and their definitions are altered to suit the need of whoever is using them at the time.

  • This reminds me of an article Ben Croshaw wrote not too long ago, “Don’t use the word ‘Gamer’ “.
    I’ve sort of avoided using the term ‘gamer’ since I read it, as bloody everybody plays games now. Soon being a geek will be “normal”.

    Snippet from Yahtzee’s article:

    “And as for people who call themselves “girl gamers,” they’re the worst of them. Not only does the word “gamer” give the unconscious segregation effect I’ve adequately ranted at above, but the word “girl” also implies that playing games and possessing a double X chromosome is something particularly worthy of note”.

    • This is the point I was trying to make above, also.

      Labels inherently segregate people and highlight differences, or assumed differences, where there shouldn’t be any.

  • I do find it sad that I am now in the majority (because i’ve always been told i’m not and I quite enjoyed the fact I was special because of it), because being a gamer used to mean something, like a basketballer, scout or firefighter still does.

    10 years ago being a gamer also typically meant that you where also someone that could fix game systems, etc.

    The worse part of it is that a lot of people that play games don’t consider themselves gamers. e.g. my parents that have played tetris and most windows games for the last 20 years and will typically play between 2-3 hours of games a day (on average about an hour more than I can typically acheive) still think that they aren’t gamers and that I have a gaming problem and they don’t (Note that the each have a PC, DS lite, share a Wii, and my dad has a iPod for games and controlling his theatre).

    I think if people ask me now I’d qoute that I’m a gaming otaku, as it means that I have a slightly unhealthy relationship with gaming, thus returning me to the group of people who are different to the unwashed masses that nintendo and apple have created.

  • I would think the apparent need to distinct ‘core gamers’ from ‘casual gamers’ stems from the community/society of ‘core gamers’, and how there are seemingly huge differences between those who are involved in the said community/society and those who don’t.

    There are plenty of people who love games, who even hype themselves up about a new release, but do not actively engage with the wider community of gaming or attempt to keep themselves actively in the loop or involved in with the industry. Or perhaps, it more seems, ‘core gamers’ dedicate more time to gaming than ‘casual gamers’ and perhaps it can be as far as to say that ‘core gamers’ actively spend a significant proportion of their time involving themselves with the gaming community/industry than ‘casual gamers’.

    Obviously, since these are all terms exploited by marketing groups and has become an almost elitist term that somehow make us more ‘true’ gamers than those who simply enjoy Angry Birds on their way to work, the terms ‘gamer’ and ‘core gamer’ have been driven to the ground, and lost some meaning.

    But I would think it does stem from a true distinction between people who casually play games and people who dedicate themselves to the gaming society as a major part of their lifestyle and time.

    And there’s nothing better, worse or wrong with being either and calling themselves a ‘gamer’.

    I have a ton more to say on this, but think I’d ought to be spending more time trying to get my TNT cannon on MineCraft to stop blowing itself up.

  • I think the term ‘gamer’ has shifted from meaning ‘someone who plays games’ to an equivalent of ‘games enthusiast’, which is something that would adequately describe most/all of the people who frequent this website. It is human nature to seek pattern and meaning in all things, and categorisation facilitates this in many ways, so to dismiss the prevalence for terms such as gamer to describe demographics may be a little premature.

  • Hmm. So what does it mean when I call myself a competitive gamer?

    I don’t see what the issue is with defining the different groups of gamers that have emerged – what are commonly referred to as the ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ groups. I mean, it’s just for the ease of distinguishing people.

    My only problem are the people who pretend to be “in” with this newly emerged ‘gamer culture’ (for lack of better term) just for the sake of appearances.

    Yes, statistically, the majority of people play games, but bear in mind these include games like solitaire/minesweeper/poker etc. Just because people play these games doesn’t mean we have a common hobby; the term ‘gamer’ can’t be used to lump us all together anymore.

  • The word gamer is only useful as an identifier in the context of distuingishing oneself as someone who plays games when in the company of non-gamers. It’s a deliberately exclusive and exclusionary phrase – we’re removing ourselves from the ‘crowd’ as it were.

    Maybe Gen Xers and Yers (I grudgingly accept I am Gen Y despite identifying more with the stereotypical Gen X) feel the need to make the distinction because we grew up in an environment where we might be exposed there were people who did not play games at all. Maybe the older crowd of gamers cling to the phrase to distinguish themselves as people who have followed the hobby for a lengthy period of time, from it’s humble reboot beginnings in the 80s to today. I know that there are people who don’t consider others gamers unless they have an equivalent history with and passion for videogaming.

    It’s a silly distinction, you’d be hard pressed to find a community where this is not the majority opinion.

    I could easily consider myself the only person in my team at work to be a gamer, because I have an Xbox 360 and PS3 and spend 10-15 hours a week gaming (not counting the odd weekend binges which can drive that number to 25 hours plus… which may not seem like a lot but I have to share the Xbox with my wife).

    But my Gen X manager has a PS3 (after being impressed with the free PS3 his (Baby Boomer) father received for buying a Sony Bravia TV). One of my younger coworkers constantly plays flash games on her work PC (much to the detriment of her productivity, but that’s another story) but considers video games a “stupid” hobby because she’s rather go out drinking every night.

    Other colleagues have running Words with Friends games on their iPhones and will cheerfully argue across cubicles about the veracity of an allowed word or who’s been abusing dictionaries.

    Aren’t they gamers by definition? Am I really any more hardcore than they are just because I play more? They’re fiercely competitive. They put videogames above other priorities. I split my potential gaming time with my wife, and hell, she tends to finish more games and finish them faster than I do so I’m deferring to her judgement on the occasional gaming matters to the point that I had to ask her to “just let me play” Crysis 2 because she was offering advice on how to play it her way (stealthy) even though I was getting along just fine my way (shooting every bastard in the vicinity) – which I consider a rather wonderful endorsement for Crysis 2, if nothing else.

    Why would I cling to an exclusionary term like gamer anyway? I want our hobby to expand and grow. Gamer has become more than exclusionary, beyond exclusive – it’s elitist. People only refer to themselves as a gamer when they’re trying to make a point that the other person isn’t, and that’s no way to grow an industry.

  • If a person who only plays facebook or smartphone games is also a gamer then thanks to my time in high school I am a scientist, a mathematician, and a historian.

    • You say that as though it’s not true. Or do you only consider someone a “gamer” if they game professionally?

      When you do math you are a mathemetician. When you do experiments, you are a scientist. When you study history, you are a historian.

  • The only thing I’m worried about is if 10 – 20 years from now every game released is some bullshit “appeal to everyone, never take risks, screw innovation and just make profits”.

    The way how I see it, the “gamers” who actually play the more traditional style of games (RPG’s, Action Titles, Strategy games, etc) will always be in the minority. Before games got popular the minority was us, and when the market gets flooded by Safe and Marketable yearly releases (Guitar Hero, Dance Games, Shooters which are carried by their multiplayer modes), we’ll still be in the minority.

    At least it feels that way. Maybe i’m jaded from working in a school and being surrounded by teenagers who admire my Fallout-decaled MacBook and have never played Fallout 2, or look at Call of Duty with the same love and adoration as I looked at my copy of Final Fantasy VII back in the day.

    Wait, fuck it, I’m just old and jaded at the younger generation.

    I just hope the games I love don’t die away and get replaced with shit, much like how the elderly think today’s music is shit.

    • OH GOD, 20+ years from now “my games” will be to the younger generation like me looking at an Andre Rieu CD with contempt!

      GODDAMNIT SONOFABITCH.

  • I am a gamer and have even had my wife call me a “game junkie” because i always need a fix. A bit of time spent on my own or with my kids playing a video game is just the thing i need to get rid of the tensions of 9-5 syndrome.

  • Stupid point is stupid.

    It’s like saying that people who say they like heavy metal are being pretentious. They’re not, its just the KIND of music they like.

    Subcatagories exist for a reason. If i see marketing for a game that is supposedly targeted at the ‘hardcore’ gamer (such as BF3), I immediately take interest, as I know that this will be the kind of game I will enjoy.

    Your TV example is even dumber. Sure, people watch TV and don’t call themselves ‘TV-ers’, but many people will call themselves Sci-Fi geeks, Crime buffs or Anime fans.

    I am a big fan of the distinction between ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ gamer, as it tells me precisely which games (and gamers) to avoid.

    • Of course sub categories exist for a reason. In games they don’t. Not really.

      To be perfectly honest, I think you’re missing the point completely.

      • The term “gamer” has a literal definition, and a cult definition.

        You’re using the literal definition to support your entire argument, which goes against the the word you were using to define yourself for so long.

        • Look – I have no problem with definitions as such. Yes, distinctions are important, the word ‘gamer’ as it stands is completely redundant and meaningless. It’s a hangover from a time when gaming was a niche pursuit, which it no longer is.

          Hip hop fan, metal fan, whatever – it’s pretty strange to hear someone say they’re a fan of music, because everyone listens to music in one form or another.

          I think ‘gamers’ have allowed themselves to be dictated to by marketing and fanboy elitism when it comes to how they define themselves. That’s all really.

          • I understand exactly where you’re coming from BUT you’re still missing the point.

            People who like music NEVER identified themselves as Music fans or Musicers. The term “gamer” is NOT literal. It’s a term used to define what I’ve previously stated.

            You simply cannot play iphone games and call yourself a gamer in the sense that people like you and I do. I’m not a fan of terms like Hardcore or Social gamer either but the path you’re heading down, can only lead to those terms being useful, because you’re throwing all your eggs into one basket.

          • I get the point! The word has evolved – it means something else! I get it! I just don’t like the way the word has evolved. It’s confusing, it’s a relic. It is no longer relevant.

          • But Mark your missing the point.
            lol I’m just joking and everyone else was saying it.

          • This is exactly correct.

            Categorisation for its own sake is fine – humans do that all the time.

            But divisions carry implicit meanings and subtext. Who or what is included? Is the category necessary?

            ‘Hardcore’ and ‘casual’ gaming terms have become commodified by publishers and designers to market their games. They’re functionally pointless and carry very negative connotations – I’d go so far as to say elitist connotations – when they’re used internally.

          • Do you people have no concept of the difference between a literal definition and cult terminology?

    • “I am a big fan of the distinction between โ€˜hardcoreโ€™ and โ€˜casualโ€™ gamer, as it tells me precisely which games (and gamers) to avoid.”

      Urgh you are the epitome of what I hate about ‘gaming culture’. This whole ‘hardcore vs casual’ attitude is a relic that I hope dies out over the next decade, it fortunately no longer exists in most forms of (more mature) entertainment.

      Is there a rule that says you can’t enjoy gears of war AND dance central AND starcraft AND angry birds?

        • It’s implicitly vindictive. The subtext alone implies that “we” are ‘core’ and ‘they’ are ignorant, casual or ‘not as real’ gamers.

          It’s silly. More than that, it’s being used to pigeonhole people into categories and market things towards them.

          I’ve lost count of the amount of articles and PR releases I’ve read that have referred to a game as being “for the core”, as if there’s a solid mass of people with the same interests, values and expectations.

          It’s lazy commodification of people into marketing archetypes.

          • But it’s true. ‘Casual’ gamers wouldn’t know the first thing about, say, half-life, yet we as hardcore gamers know all about angry birds and farmville.

            Casual implies ignorance because casual gamers ARE ignorant. Most of them don’t even identify what they are playing as a video game – “Oh, it’s just some facebook thing, it’s not like them call of halo things at all. Only loosers play video games”

          • Secondly, I LIKED being pidgenwholed into a catagory because it means only things that I like will be marketted to me! It makes perfect sense! Why wouldn’t you only want to be given things you like?

            “Hmm, I really like this delicious pie that you keep giving me more of, but what i’d really like to do is try and eat that dog turd”

          • I don’t even think it’s that, i think that most people who term themselves hardcore, are the ones who believe that the mass market appeal of games and to some the dumbing down or simplification of games is a detriment.

            In a way all hardcore gamer means is that you’ve been around the block for a while.

            It’s the whole before you darn stinking kids came along the music was better And the game stood for more than the monetisation they do today.

            In short the hardcore gamers are really just the old folks who know what it used to be like and wish they could live in the old days.

            In 10 years time all the so called casual gamers will be the hardcore gamers as well.

            They’ll be like back in my day we didn’t need no stupid…. Or we could carry only 2 weapons not 3 if 2 of them were small weapons.

            Or else you have the tech nazi’s(which im proudly one of :P) Who always want to be pushing the limits of there system or just in general arguing there console is better than the other.

          • They’ll be like people who still listen to classic rock radio stations. ‘The Grateful Dead man… that’s real rock and roll! Not all this indie crap’!

          • Not even close.

            Lets use the words casual and hardcore gamers for this one, even though they leave a bad taste in my mouth.

            Like I mentioned before, when I was 14 I created scrap books, some of walkthroughs, some of magazine clippings from over 200 gaming mags for upcoming games. I owned 6 consoles back then, the VZ300, C64, Sega MS II, Sega Megadrive, Super Nintendo and Playstation.

            Now you’re going to say to me, that a casual gamer today at the same age playing tetris on his dad’s iphone relates to me when I was 14? You need to stop playing with yourself. Who knows, he may become a “hardcore gamer” when he’s older, but he needs to adapt the same lifestyle.

            GAMER = A person who surrounds him/herself with games, looks forward to upcoming releases, clocks every game they can and speak enthusiastically about games.

            That is the definition that we as gamers gave the word.

            The survey that accumulated the statistics you show Mark cannot be accurate to any degree simply because they include people who have “played a game”. Let me give you a scenario.

            A businessman, whom works seven days a week, twelve hours a day goes on vacation and finally decides to take a look at the app store on his iphone. He downloads worms, plays it for two minutes and never touches a game ever again. Is he a gamer? No he’s not, but the statistics you show have counted him as a person who has downloaded a game.

            I think this is starting to look like we’ve all had a different opinion / belief on what the word “gamer” really means all along. I believe the true definition is defining of one’s lifestyle choice, whereas yours is taking a big steamy shit on those who have done just that.

          • Wow. You just don’t get it do you?

            The bottom line here is that you’re an elitist, and you’re part of the problem.

            Wah wah wah, I’ve been playing games for 20 years, I’m so hardcore, I know more about games that you, wah wah wah! You only play iPhone games, you’re not a real gamer.

            Back to the stone ages with you.

          • First of all, as a writer for Kotaku I’d assume you’d show a little more maturity, especially when dealing with your readers.

            Second, I’m not an elitist at all, I just see things for what they are. My wife plays a game here and there, she loves sims and facebook games, she does not consider herself a gamer, and she’s right. You on the other hand, are a sell out and for some unfathomable reason, can’t comprehend the difference between a title and a definition.

          • A sellout? For not wanting to buy in to pretentious definitions to feed your juvenile need to feel special? You’re really just digging yourself deeper. The whole point of this argument is that the term is now out-dated. Yet you’re clinging for dear life on to this now meaningless word because it validates you and makes you feel like you’re different from the hoards, so you have an Other to define yourself in opposition to. That’s why you’re part of the problem.

          • Why should I treat you with respect when you claim that I’m taking a “big steamy shit” on readers when I’m clearly not. Why should I respond to that in any other way?

            I have a great relationship with the Kotaku audience. Ask absolutely anyone around here.

            You can disagree with me, but do so with respect or get out.

            And how am I a sell out? I’ve written stories on this site that all other journos have refused to touch – game prices, steam prices, r18, you name it.

            Be respectful or close your door on the way out. You won’t be missed.

          • Dude, I was no scrapbooker back in the day but props to you for your effort. Props also to your well to do parents who were able to buy all of this neat gear for you. You must have had a real hard time when one of them got a little dust or moisture on them eh?

            As a kid, I grew up with a couple of random systems. Owned a C64, Amiga 500 as well as two Sega consoles (the Mega Drive I bought myself). I was plastered up against my 32cm tv for hours. I didn’t have all the cool stuff, and only started to aquire more as I became older and started to look after myself… So your privilege is really your defining factor, as without it you’d be just like me but with a few scrapbooks. +10 for the dedication but anyone who plays or seeks to play videogames is a gamer as far as I’m concerned. You wanna be hardcore? Go play with the weird looking kids in the corner.

            I cannot believe that you would consider yourself exclusively worthy of such a throw away descriptive term or identifier.

            Now that I’m a financially independent adult I have a modest amount of gaming paraphernalia, HD tv’s, monitors software etc. I regularly check news, reviews and casual sh*t like that. I am a gamer. In fact, my 8 year old step son is as much a gamer as you are. He plays games all the time. I give him all of the figurines and posters and stuff when I get ’em. He’s stoked…

            /

        • Its possibly a manifestation of the ‘hardcore gamer’ feeling uncomfortable about losing their domain of ‘gaming’ to the wider audience. It often comes out being vicious, but its just insecurity – Just watch the typical comments on the next Kotaku post covering an iPhone game.

  • What I tend to think is that the term of “gamer” has shifted over time because of what people consider to be a mainstream of games. Think back to the late 80s and early 90s where Mario, and Donkey Kong games were just the best games to grace us, which were platformers. If you were into those sorts of games back then, you’d be considered a “gamer”. Nowadays the top of the charts are dominated with FPS and the like, so to be considered even a “gamer” by any means means that you have to be enthusiastic about the latest Call of Duty or Battlefield game.

  • Why do we have to label ourselves based on our interests? It just allows people to generalise and stereotype us. My parents once described me two distinct characteristics of a ‘gamer’. 1) A ‘gamer’ is usually neck beard basement dwelling geek. 2) A ‘gamer’ is someone who enjoys Farmville or Angrybids. In the end it just marginalizes our hobbies and allows marketers to grab and capitalize on the word.

    Perhaps what the iGEA really need to address are the issues facing us ‘gamers’. Price discrimination, regional segmentation, piracy etc. People directly affected by these are the ‘gamers’.

  • Most people drive cars, doesn’t make everybody a petrol head.

    Most people watch movies, doesn’t make everybody a film buff.

    Most people listen to music, doesn’t make everybody a muso.

    There will always be a cultural label applied to the enthusiast of a medium/item. The term gamer is essentially no different, although perhaps that actual language of the term could use some refinement.

  • gamer
    1620s, “an athlete,” agent noun from game. Meaning “one [BOLD]devoted[/BOLD] to playing video or computer games” is attested from 1999.

  • BEARDED
    SHOOOOOO
    RYUUUUUU
    KEEEEEEEEN~!!!

    *Flies upwards, totally wrecking the ceiling, sending gyprock falling everywhere*

  • I’m a bitch (Mass Effect)
    I’m a lover (witcher)
    I’m a child (Zelda)
    I’m a mother (Heavy Rain)
    I’m a sinner (God of War)
    I’m a saint (Saint’s Row 2)

    I do not feel ashaaaayaaaaaAAAAAAAAaaamed~!!!!

    … (the hell is wrong with me today? Also, not too sure on heavy rain, since I’ve never played it. Just plucked that one out my ass.)

  • I love the dialog – I’ve just got to make sure my missus doesn’t see this – she thinks gamers are geeks and she has a thing for geeks. So if she finds out playing games is “normal” I’m out on the street.

  • The word “gamer” means nothing to me now. Only because after reading the word like, a BAJILLION times in this article and all the comments, it just looks like a confusing collection of letters.

  • I will continue to be a gamer, so long as my passion and enthusiasm for the act of gaming and the industry remain fervent.

    To hell with debating definitions. Call me what you will, give me whatever label you’re comfortable with, it won’t change a thing.

  • This is a definition that pervades in so many aspects of life.

    People struggle over what it means, for example, to be a ‘writer’ – is it dependent upon taking it seriously enough to get published, or to have scribbled a short story or two, or does it apply to beautifully calligraphised shopping lists too?

    And it seems to pervade most thoroughly where the activity in question is a hobby and/or when the line between hobby and vocation becomes blurred.

  • If you have not had a discussion about an experience playing a video game then in my books you are not a gamer.

  • An alternative angle: perhaps we need to stop calling them all ‘games’?

    My main issue with the ‘gamer’ and ‘gaming’ terms is completely different. I don’t like that the same terms have been co-opted to also refer to gambling. Losing your life savings on the pokies is something fundamentally different to spending a few hours playing a console game.

  • @ Ben Jones:

    So, someone who plays Angry Birds isn’t a gamer, but someone who plays COD is?? Is that how this works?

    So how do you define it, exactly? Where do you draw the line between gamer and non-gamer?

    I know people who spend every waking moment playing World of Warcraft, but they’ve never touched another game. Are they gamers?

    What about those people who play Sims? Sims is a casual game, isn’t it? So what about those who MOD the Sims – Those who spend hours of their own time creating content to share with others? Are they gamers?

    By your, or someone else’s definition, they’re probably not gamers. But isn’t that unfair to them? They’ve invested the same amount of time into the game as you may have into whatever game you choose to define yourself as a gamer.

    After all, I play games on everything – PC, Xbox, PS3, DS, iphone – and I play all kinds of games, from Assassins Creed to Zuma. I’ve played games that were never released and that you’ve never even heard of – doesn’t this make me more of a gamer than you?

    If so, what gives you the right to call yourself a gamer over me, for example? Who made you the boss of the word?

    You’ve admitted people who don’t play iphone games can be called gamers, so does that mean iphone games are not games?

    If you think not, then as a developer of iphone games, I take HUGE offence to that! I’ve lost hours of my life to overtime to get games made on iphone – my effort in making iphone games is not diminished because it’s on the iphone!

    So, exactly how do you define it?

    I think this is what Mark is getting at.

    At the end of the day it’s a ridiculous term that means nothing to anyone except those who choose to use it to discriminate against another.

  • I definitely agree with the idea that “hardcore gamers” should be relegated to the playgrounds of the 80’s and 90’s – along with console fanism (I can not believe that someone who defines themselves as a player of video games would honestly forsake an excellent gaming experience because it was on a different game system. But really, that’s a whole other discussion and I’ve really derailed the point I was originally trying to make. In fact, this should have been it’s own paragraph rather than a bracketed aside, since I’ve clearly gone past the point where I can close this neatly. Ok, here goes nothing…)

    I still define myself as a gamer though, in an all-encompassing sense of the word. I play video games, yes, and that’s a large part of it. However, I also regularly play table-top war games, board games, card games, role-playing games. The article about a week back about Tomonobu Itagaki’s favourite strategy games was really exciting for me, since I’ve played many similar games.

    For me, “gamer” has a slightly different definition to how it’s used within mainstream media. It means I make sure to explain the fullness of my hobbies if that’s how I’m defining myself, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who open up more talking about military strategy than video games.

  • I call myself a ‘gamer’ because it is my preferred hobby. For isntance, when I was young I did archery and called myself ‘an archer’. Another example is my friend who enjoys playing games, but is most passionate about music – he’d probably call himself a ‘muso’.

  • I am a digital entertainment enthusiast.

    The fringe of gamer culture who desire a complex, mature experience are at odds with the broad majority who prefer instant simple fun.

    You have already chosen your side in this battle for the future of gaming by entering such a discussion as this.

  • We can’t deny that anyone who plays a game or has played a game now considers themselves to be a gamer. Unfortunately, I feel that people who aren’t just playing casual games feel the need to distance themselves because they don’t want to be associated with the people from those wii ads.
    I grew up with games, starting with the nes era, I do consider myself a gamer. I have no qualms with the word. Hardcore gamer I definitely do. I despise the word. But I think because games weren’t always popular, people want to hold onto that.
    For example, a lot of young people (under 15 mind you) play call of duty and it’s the best game in the world to them. They know no better. Graphics are the greatest innovation in games! (these are the so-called hardcore gamers)Well, try playing the old games that I grew up with. You had to read the manual, the graphics were amazing for their time and you can always go back to them. I think this is the other reason that some gamers need to define themselves from other gamers.

  • I love the fact that ANY ARTICLE that kotaku actually writes themselves about their views is complete shit and formed under a elitist banner.
    Hilarious if you ask me, that they are so out of touch with peoples views on gaming culture.

  • I was thinking about AAA as a game definition the other day and how the industry definition and my own are not the same.

    Industry take,
    1st A = we spent heaps of moolah on making this.
    2nd A = we spent heaps of moolah on marketing this.
    3rd A = you know one of our employees by name.

    My take
    1st A = Original concept (eg. it could just be play mechanic, I give the some wriggle room on this one)
    2nd A = Original art and assets
    3rd A = Original engine/code

    Most games I see these days are only ABB titles. At least from my picky and petty view.

  • So does AustralianGamer.com have to change it’s name now? ๐Ÿ˜›

    Some of you (who know of me) may or may not have noticed that I recently resigned as a writer for AustralianGamer as I no longer feel like a ‘Gamer’ (or whatever title comes of this article) as I just don’t find the time or motivation to play anymore. I have probably bought 3 games in the last month and two are still in plastic. So what does that me? Is there a class for ‘quick-fix’ gamers who can squeeze in a round or two of COD MP action, or as mentioned Angry Birds/Fruit Ninja… maybe a Mario Kart lap or two? This is the gategory I fit into now. I think it’s Time-Poor Gaming.

    Oh and Dale S? I would like to invite you to dinner….. you can ‘chow down in wang town’

  • I can see your point there, but what about this though…I never really saw myself as a “gamer” when it came to digital pursuits…..

    but im also a table top gamer….

    ahhh soooo conflicted ๐Ÿ˜›

  • I usually agree with you Mark, but I can’t on this one. I still use the word hardcore gamer because every year I see another developer who makes complicated, engaging, challenging games die of bankruptcy because it’s quickly becoming impossible to develop anything but 2D indie titles unless you let everyone and their mother – literally – be able to take on the hardest difficulty.

    In 2008 an enraged Rathalos charged you for at least 90% of your health. Today he takes off 10%. Dante’s getting a hair cut, Unreal Tournament is long dead, and Nier was Cavia’s last gift to us before they expired.

    You raise a good point about ‘TVer,’ but it’s my exact same point. The day good games become as rare as good TV is the day I stop playing them.

  • Definitely agree with Mark here. Do gamers need to justify themselves as a unique sector of society when a large majority of people play videogames?

    It’s simply a part of society now.

    I watch movies and enjoy good ones with an intelligent plot, but I don’t call myself “hardcore movie buff”.

    Anyway, I’ve always found the term “hardcore gamer” an amusing one, since really the hardcore gamers I know all have a different view on what includes and excludes others from the “category”. If a hardcore gamer is a gamer that enjoys good games, then non-hardcore gamers are the minority of people that buy, play and enjoy “bad games” judging by the sales.

    Of course, more casual games blur this line a little more. But if a person spends 10 hours on Farmville a week, is he a casual player in the eyes of a person that spends 10 hours on World of Warcraft a week?

    So yes, Mark, I cringe with you when I hear hardcore gamer. I also cringe reading AAA when speaking of games, because even game developers don’t know what it means and there’s no actual measurement for it.

  • The first time I heard the word “gamer” was in high school. I was talking with a friend about something we’d both been playing recently and the skinny pot-head/thug guy in baggy clothes sitting across the aisle from me said “Hey, so you’re a gamer?”

    “What?” I replied.

    “You’re a gamer? You play games and shit?”

    “Yeah…”

    “Yeah, I play Madden and shit… It’s Dope. I got all of them. Which ones do you have?”

    “I don’t play Madden.”

    “I thought you said you was a GAYmuh! Man, you just a Pohsuh”

    “… sorry?”

    I relate this story to provide some personal background and context because I fully recognize and admit that this experience likely painted the way I see the word in general.

    So yeah I don’t like the term “Gamer” (meaning, also, “gaming” or “to game” as a verb in general). I think it just sounds backwards and is impossible to use in such a way that does not carry some kind of additional implications about the individual described by it. I also find it embarassing when people feel like “Gamer” is some kind of title or honor that they need to defend tooth and nail. If anything, that just solidifies my feelings about the word and its use. (Also, It kinda feels like a word that sprung from a marketing meeting somewhere, but maybe that’s just me.)

    Playing games is my primary hobby, but I don’t define myself by my hobbies. I play them and love them and sometimes obsess over them, sure. But I do the same with other things too.
    I wouldn’t call myself a booker/filmer/music-er/etc.

    And everytime I state this opinion on the interwebs it seems to make people upset, so please understand that I’m not being mean or holier-than-thou… I just personally prefer not to use the word.

  • ” 76% of Gen Y plays games. 90% of the frankly terrifying Gen Z plays games. Even 60% of Gen X ”

    89% of statistics are made up you know? also farmville is NOT a game. =-P

  • In reply to your last post Mr Serrels… oh and your little bandwagon that can’t see past agreeing with you because you’re apparently a celebrity to them.

    I’ve been reading Kotaku for … gee it must be four years now. I’ve contributed to the website with sources and even a story last year. But none of this has anything to do with the fact that you haven’t got the faintest clue in THIS particular article. I’m usually a fan of your articles, but it seems when someone doesn’t agree with everything you say, it all gets really childish.

    The term “gamer” is not out dated and it never will be out dated. It will only be used flimsily by people who have no realisation or connection to it’s intended meaning. And if farmville “gamers” are going to label themselves under the same pretense then I’m afraid that I’m going to have to assume the roll of a pretentious elitist, because I’d rather be a pretentious, elitist twat than associate my passion for gaming with those who do not appreciate the industry for what it really is. A lifestyle.

  • “Honestly, what is this strange insecurity? What is this identity crisis Iโ€™m supposed to identify with?”

    On the other hand, it might be argued by some that a desire to abandon a subcultural label and embrace games as a common past-time is a product of another insecurity; specifically a desire to “just be normal and fit in.”

    The teenage identity crisis, after all, goes both ways.

    Also, you are right that playing games is a common hobby. But there are clearly levels of involvement. There are people that causally listen to music on the radio, but there are also those with a strong interest in particular genres who will seek out obscure artists etc. We tend to separate the “hardcore” music fans (whom we will call “enthusiasts of x genre” or “music lovers”) from casual people that just “want something in the background.”

    So gaming isn’t alone in its use of different labels to separate out those involved casually from those involved deeply.

    Sports may be a very mainstream hobby in Australia, but in the United States people who are very fond of sports will explicitly call themselves “Sports fans.” Whilst it is a common hobby in the US, it isn’t as prevalent, hence the label.

    Also, really, I must disagree with this idea we’ve ‘trained’ ourselves into pavlovian obedience to marketing via these labels. I admit, my own taste is games is relatively discriminating but I don’t think everyone that plays games is as mindless Pavlov’s Dog to marketing.

  • The first page disected it enough for me. T’was a good read.

    For me, I don’t necessarily feel the need to define myself as a gamer to others. Unless as stated to differentiate myself from people who don’t play games. In real life situations more often than not I will identify as a “gamer” or simply “someone who plays videogames”.

    I do not set out to make this distinction however society demands a category. I’m happy enough with the term “gamer”. The term “hardcore” is lost on me. It is certainly a term incited to cause derision to “we who are not hardcore” and is no more than a self prescribed ego boost to those who need to define themselves as unique to a now very common demographic.

    Simply put, I have friends who play games, friends who don’t and friends who dabble every now and then when they’re over for drinks. Everyone of them would call me a gamer (and party animal :)) but few would consider themselves gamers. It doesn’t matter anyway cause we’re all pretty pissed. As drinkers.

    I’ll just lull myself into a false sense of security and pretend that there is/ and doesn’t need to be a distinction made between the broader spectrum of video game enthusiasts, people who put 200 hours into an RPG (not me), people who play CoD all the damn time (also not me), and people who own race wheels and cockpits among an assortment of other titles across multiple platforms(that’s me).

    I am a man. I play video games.

    I’m a “mangamer”.

  • I find myself at odds with the article. I do believe there is a difference between the various groups of people who play games. It doesn’t come down to time spent playing or the type of game we play. I would summarise it as our emotional investment in those games we choose to play. How many people here have stayed up well past when they should have gone to bed in order to get to the next level, or started a game again to see what it is like on the evil side? How many were surprised when they discovered that sheik was actually zelda in disguise? Bought a game because it contained a demo for another game? Spent time creating a youtube video of a glitch or speed run, or even watched one? Visited gamefaqs for hints on how to EV train your pokemon, or who almost cried when they finally beat the facility in goldeneye in the 2 minute (odd) timer? Spent months playing wow until rhe obtained that epic rare mount? Who has attended a midnight release, then stayed up most of the night playing the game? I’m sure all gamers have moments that they remember with happiness, sadness and frustration. I see that as a division between casual players and gamers.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!