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Monday, January 25, 2016

Gamer Tags

I am 40.
I am a father.
I am a son.
I am a nerd.
I am a gamer.
I am not a gamer.

Do I play COD or WoW or know what the difference is between a Hunter and a Promethean Knight is?  Can I perform a 360 no scope?  No.   But so what?  You don’t get to give me a tag of gamer or not.   That is not for you to decide.  Now, I would never call myself a soldier because I’ve never been in the armed forces or trained in the military.  That is an entirely different thing. The reason you don’t get to call me a gamer, or not a gamer, is because you aren’t the governing body of video games.  You are not a part of some hierarchy of video game admins that decide who or what defines me as a player of video games.  You are a gamer or you are not a gamer, by your own definition.

Let’s face it, video games have been around a lot longer than some of you who consider yourself to be MLG.  And, by using that term alone I sound like an old man, I know.  But I also know that video games are older than I am, which makes whatever you think of my gaming ability to be irrelevant.  You have no idea what being a gamer or not being a gamer is.   You’ve never stood in an arcade, with your quarter sitting on the rim of the bezel, waiting for your turn as some geek stands there, their eyes darting back and forth as they move left, right, down, and up to avoid pixelated enemies, knowing that there is no save point or continue.  One quarter.  One shot.  

Now, you may also wish to contend that the games of old, back in the days of the arcade, were simplistic.   All it took was memorization of some pattern or repetitive moments to be good.  Sure, go ahead and keep believing that.  I dare you to even try to keep up with someone like Billy Mitchell.  

Video games have come a long way.   From text adventures to monochromatic 2D sprites to isometric RPGs to millions of polygons per second rendering on the screen, we’ve seen games that have told stories of searching an underground kingdom to saving a princess in another castle to surviving the night in a haunted pizza restaurant and sometimes, it’s not even a game by traditional standards, but an unfolding tale of lost loves from car accidents or cancer.   We simulate everything from amusement parks to prisons to farms.  We blast aliens and fruit.  We build vehicles contraptions and even other video games.

Playing one specific type of game does not make someone a “gamer”.   It’s an understanding of many disciplines and it doesn’t mean you have to be any good.   You don’t have to compete in tournaments or carry your own custom controller and gear.  You can sit in a cafĂ© and play across a network connection with someone next door or across the world. 

And when someone else says they are a gamer or not a gamer.  If someone plays video games they can consider themselves whatever they want to be.   They can be old, young, male, female, Christian, Muslim, or Jewish.   The fact that they play, that they care, gives them the right to call themselves whatever they want.

This idea that you have to be a male with a Gamerscore over 20,000 to be a “gamer” is ridiculous.  Who cares?  I don’t have a Gamerscore.   My daughter plays video games.  She records videos.  She’s under the age of 10.   She can be a gamer if she so chooses to be called one.   This shaming and violently attacking others for playing games is a ridiculous practice that needs to stop, yesterday.  Are there problems in the world of gaming in way of gender exclusion and objectifying of a gender?  You betcha.   I remember the Nude Raider mod for Tomb Raider, Strip Poker on the Commodore 64.  Come on, we need to grow up.  We need to start acting like human beings.  

Gaming is an outlet for expression and creativity and we should embrace anyone that wants to be a part of that.  We should nurture the desire to figure out what makes games work.  We should engage in a community that doesn’t hate someone because they don’t know how to play a particular game, but helps them learn so they can enjoy the same thing we do.   When you tell someone that you play video games or that you like video games what is their reaction?  Do they roll their eyes or do they continue a conversation, invested in your attachment to the activity?  Maybe if they understood it like you do, had your passion, they would be more open to accept that you like to play video games and don’t brush it off as something juvenile or a waste of time.   With that in mind, why would ever try to dissuade someone from joining your ranks as a person who appreciates and partakes in the playing of video games?  We need more people in this club.  We need help from all walks of life.   We can’t make this idea exclusive to who we feel is deemed worthy to wear the tag of Gamer or whatever is an appropriate title. 

Not a gamer
Human Being

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