So, as I promised before, I have content in the works. This is one piece of that content, and I'll try and keep it short, but not short enough to not cover at least some small, vague portion of the topic. Hold on, I'm going to grab a Coke Zero and some popcorn while I explore just why, exactly, I'm a gamer. Wait a minute, that's you're job! I have to do the typing... *grunble grumble*
I would say that gaming started early for me, like most of us here. However, I was always a little farther behind everyone else I knew when it came to gaming. I ended up skipping around a bit because my parents didn't quite understand what I was talking about when I asked for something specific. For me, the first thing I had was an ATARI 2600.
The 2600 was the most awesome thing on the planet when I was 5. I don't remember all of the games I had for it, but the one that sticks out the most was Pitfall. If you've ever played Pitfall for the 2600, you'll know it's a rather simplistic game, to be kind. But, at 5, it was pretty damned awesome.
Fast-forwarding a bit, at 6 my next console was a SNES. Yea, one year apart. I was that kid that skipped the NES and the Sega Master System and Sega Genesis all together. I love the SNES, but as a kid, I really wanted the Genesis. I was more of a Sonic kid and the last Sonic game I've enjoyed was Sonic and Knuckles, but my favorite was Sonic 3. We'll get more into that when I get around to writing an article on retro-gaming.
So as a kid, my gaming grew into the SNES world. Super Mario; all the Star Wars games (ever), several of the horrible Star Trek games, SimCity2000 and an ungodly huge array of other games. There was a lot of money spent at the local rental shop. I'd say that most of the games I ever played on the SNES were probably rented and beaten in a single weekend.
But, the same year that I got the SNES, my parents bought their first computer: a Hewlet-Packard (not HP at the time) 486 machine, complete with turbo button. Man, that was the start of me becoming a serious gamer. We started off with the typical family-friendly educational games, but eventually those wore off for games like Doom and Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. Yep, I got my hands on my two favorite genres by age 8.
These types of games are, more or less, what I've spent a majority of my time with since. My latest favorites being Portal 2 and Starcraft 2, both of which have fantastic narrative stories and über-solid gameplay. But, of the two genres, I mostly prefer RTS games and have enjoyed some of the greatest of them from early on.
RTS games are a bit of a bland genre now-days, with very few big titles coming down the pipes anymore. In the genre, my personal favorites are Homeworld (1 and 2 for different reasons), Age of Empires 2 & expansion and Supreme Commander with Forged Alliance expansion and Starcraft 2. Homeworld has one of the greatest narrated RTS stories of all time, in my opinion, which makes it my favorite. I could write a whole article on Homeworld and why there needs to be another one, which will probably happen.
To me, my past experiences with interactive entertainment growing up makes me a gamer. I derive a vast majority of my entertainment from gaming and even use gaming to relax or vent frustration. I'll play through a game every few years like I was reading a good book. I've lost count of the number of times that I've played all the way through Homeworld and Half-Life and Diablo 1 & 2 just to relive those stories. The opening sequence of Homeworld still gives me goosebumps almost 12 years later.
I've spent so much time playing games rather than watching movies or TV shows, that I honestly don't know much about either. I see some of the better movies when they come into the theatre and at home. Right now, the wife and I are enjoying Game of Thrones. However, there's not a whole lot else! I spend most of my time dicking around in games and reading/studying IT related topics from my computer.
But when it comes down to what my favorite is, I still think it's PC gaming. I have an XB360, but I spend considerably less time on it than I do my PC. I enjoy the things that PC games try to do and a lot of times it ties in with one of my other favorite things in life: technology. PC games will tend to take advantage of some really great things, like Eyefinity/Multi-monitor and incredible new graphics capabilities. To me, the PC is the experimental platform and that's why I enjoy it most.
But, I think really we have to break it down a little. What is a gamer? Is it anyone who has ever played a game? Is it someone who simply derives enjoyment from playing video games? Is it someone who spends a majority of their time gaming? These are all hard questions. They are questions without any one good answer. I think "gamer" is actually a really vague term that we give ourselves to associate with one another.
From my perspective, I don't see too many other forms of entertainment assigning broad labels to those who enjoy them. There's no Bookers or Filmers that broadly describe people who read books and watch movies. Sure, there are bookworms and movie buffs, but those define a very niche group from those mediums. So why do gamers call themselves, gamers? It's kind of a unique thing once you start to really look at it.
It's a great thing, really. We've created a sub-culture completely based off of references we've created and contextual humor from those references. We truly enjoy ourselves when we've got a bunch of us together to frag the hell out of each other and completely obliterate each other in a whirl of pixels and yelling "PWNED, BITCH!" across the room or over the internet to our buddies.
I wouldn't give it up for the world.
God damn it, get back here squirrel! Stop throwing popcorn at me! *chases after the pants squirrel.*