A Gamer By Name and Nothing More
I have played video games since I was a child. I use to play arcade games, then home consoles in my youth during the late eighties. I moved to PC gaming in the mid-nineties and have remained there ever since. I play a variety of game genres but the common factor has always been that I play for fun, amusement and entertainment. There is an element of personal challenge involved and I do like some of the social interaction that comes with certain genres. However I'm don't game to be the best of the best, nor am I looking to be excessively stretched with a steep and complex learning curve. Although I like being part of the gaming community it is not the centre of my social activities. For me games are just a pleasant pastime and an amusing diversion.
Because I play games, I believe that makes me a "gamer" but beyond that being a functional description, I don't ascribe any further significance to the term with regard to myself. However I am fully aware that some people identify with the term a lot more than I do, seeing it as a wider social moniker with broader connotations. Sadly because some of those connotations are now associated with ideologies and attitudes that I don't support, this simply reinforces my choice to distance myself from any wider definition of "gamer".
I have no major prejudice against gaming as a leisure activity. It has its merits and pitfalls, the same as any other hobby or pastime. One can spend too much time fishing, or stamp collecting just the same as gaming excessively. However something I do find odd about gaming is the huge amount of time and energy some people devote to negative or trivial aspects of the gaming scene. You'll find no end of blog posts, podcast and You Tube videos berating gaming minutiae or the perceived transgressions of a developer and publisher. If only there was a similar amount of dedication shown towards pressing real world issues.
Simon Pegg courted controversy last year with his comments (which were grossly taken out of context) about "the infantilisation of society", postulated by French cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard. This along with the growing phenomenon of the "man child" causes me concern, because I feel that gaming culture includes large numbers of people in both these camps. These are not things I want to be associated with as I don't see them as being especially edifying for gaming per se or benefical for society. If it is essential to pigeonhole people, then I wish to be defined by something with a far more robust criteria and less divisive nature than "gaming".
So I'm a gamer, the same way that I'm a reader, a listener and a viewer. Like those mediums, gaming can also provide a degree of insight and an opportunity to learn new skills. However I don't buy into the notion that gamers are an untapped resource of elite problems solvers. Sure video games require a degree of lateral thinking and an aptitude for puzzles solving, but so do crosswords, sudoko and chess. Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of my fellow gamers, but I see no evidence that they’re a group of Nietzschean Übermensch.
There's a chance that some see this post as being "anti-gamer". I don't believe that to be the case, although I am certainly against the cult of the self-aggrandizing, malcontent, savant gamers. Sadly this seems to be the group that gets all the media attention these days. However regardless of these quibbles and distinctions, I'll probably continue to game well into my autumn years and beyond, simply because gaming is an everyday aspect of life now, the same way that social media and the internet are. If an EMP ever puts pay to gaming as we currently know it, I will simply put a colander on my head and play Nine Mens Morris using stones. It would just be a case of same meat, different gravy.