The game industry is changing, and "disruption" is the buzzword of the day. Everyone now plays electronic games in some shape or form, and inclusion is the name of the game. Every publisher's wet dream is to get the billions of smartphone users to play their game. Because if everyone plays games, it stands to reason that every game can be played by everyone... or so the logic goes.
How I see myself.
One of the targets of this push for inclusion is the word gamer. Many claim that everyone is a gamer
now, while others insist the word should be retired altogether. One such Gamasutra article
is what prompted this response. In the article, the writer argues that "gamer" is a derogatory term that defines you as "someone who plays games, to the exclusion of all else", and is exploited by the news media as another way of ridiculing us, and so should be axed entirely. One commenter added that it was "troubling" that someone would self-identify as a gamer and not by, say, his profession. I'm here to defend, and embrace, the term "gamer".
How the mainstream media sees me.
Words are fluid. They mean different things to different people, and no single definition is absolute. Clearly, Brandon Sheffield has his own definition of gamer, for I cannot find the "to the exclusion of all else" part in any dictionary. I am reminded of how many times my teenager friends (and my teenager self, I must admit) used the word "gay" as a "joking" slur. Should we retire the word gay, then, because it has negative connotations to way too many people? Absolutely not. Far better to retire our own ignorance, which, in the case of my friends and me, has fortunately mostly been achieved.
My definition of gamer is someone who plays games enthusiastically, and to whom games are an important part of life. In other words, "gamer" to me is the gaming equivalent of cinophile, or any number of other words applied to enthusiasts of a number of other hobbies. And I see no reason whatsoever to be ashamed of it.
Which is why I don't see everyone who plays games as a gamer, just like not everyone who reads books is a bibliophile. And there is nothing wrong with that. I've never been ashamed to self-identify as a gamer, simply because I never thought that it "excluded everything else". Seeing myself as a gamer doesn't "disturb" me in the least, because that is not, nor has it ever been, all I am. I am a gamer. I am also an investor, a businessman, a Brazilian, an expatriate, a husband, a son, a friend, a student, someone who suffers from depression, someone who had to deal with the shock of hearing his 31-year old wife was diagnosed with cancer, someone who likes to play the guitar occasionally, a Destructoid reader, and a whole bunch of other things, with different degrees of importance at different times. None of them excludes anything else, and altogether, they make me who I am. And games are a part of who I am.
A good chunk of Brando's argument centers on how society at large and the mainstream media still views gamers as adult children, and thus we should retire the label to help change public perception of the game playing public. As a game developer, which I assume he is, I understand that public perception may have very real consequences for his livelihood, and he's welcome to do whatever he wants to try and change that. As a gamer, however... I just couldn't care less what the mainstream media or this faceless creature we call "society" have to say about me. It also strikes me as somewhat ironic that he doesn't want us to define ourselves as gamers precisely because he embraced the definition of gamer adopted by the news media! As an only child, I'm used to finding my own way. I've never defined myself by what is expected of me, certainly not by an amorphous entity such as "the media", and I'm not about to start now.
How I feel about it.