Turning on the Television and seeing a League of Legends tournament is weird. Seeing an ad on Snapchat for Hearthstone. That's weird. Weird is not bad. I get excited to show my friends a video from League's Worlds 2018 Tournament, the opening show, and proudly state that the video reached trending for multiple days. A mom walking past me with her kids playing Pokemon Go, that warms my heart.
I vividly recall as a child being made fun of for being a gamer. The connotations of the tag "gamer" went from "Loser who doesn't get sunlight and plays games" to "Person who plays games". The bitey bit of the tag "gamer" lost its weight in the last fifteen or so years. The reality that 80+ Million Playstation 4 consoles were shipped through the world hit me hard; that number is only one current console. Rainbow Six Siege has a peak of 100,000 players on PC through the Steam app. With many other gaming systems of this generation and past... gaming is now a larger part of our culture. Gone are the days of Mario being unheard of to the general population. You can walk the streets of a major city and see an ad plastered on the side of a building for the hottest games of the season. And these ads are right next to movie, television, and fashion ads.
But what does that mean for gamers? Surely we are treated with more understanding, but we never had it bad, to begin with. Unlike the LGBT+ Community, the identity of "gamer" was met with snide remarks, not actual opposition. If anything, and I'll be honest, the cultural sweep of gaming has slightly nullified some of my enjoyment for it. We get games that have more microtransactions because the average gamer might not pay attention to it. Certain games are now aimed at a more generalized audience, losing its niche and value as a unique game with a specific focus. But these caveats aside, I welcome this normalization.
The pluses to gaming popularity are easy to see: Look at E-Sports. Take Street Fighter, Tekken, and Marvel vs Capcom. These long-running fighting game franchises helped shape E-Sports, although the EVO fighting tournaments are not as popular to the general population as League of Legends or Rainbow Six Siege. Tournaments like EVO bring the community together to celebrate. What was barely done when home consoles first came out is now fully accessible due to the widespread use of the internet, in all of its thorns and glory. Without the connectivity of the internet, most people would never have seen or heard about gaming tournaments. What the Olympics is for strength and agility, these tournaments are for video games. Obviously, that last statement is a bit of a hyperbole. I love the Olympics, and this isn't gatekeeping. People should enjoy what they want, but it wasn't until gaming hit a threshold of popularity via cellphones and multiple styles of consoles that people saw it as a norm. All of these things factor into a world that games more. And I think if it wasn't for E-Sports, something to cheer towards together and participate in, our web of interconnectedness would not be as strong.
This whole article is just me spewing words down, excited to see the emerging culture of gaming in a world more accepting of it. Feel free to disagree, debate, or anything else.