Not long ago I was participating in this thread about the definition of the term "Hardcore Gamer"
. A few days later I saw "We Gamin' "
in Destructainment. The thread got me thinking about how, while everyone was debating the definition of "hardcore", everyone was also taking for granted the term "Gamer". Then, upon watching the video, I was hit by this line that got me thinking even more.
"We about to make video games officially cool."
How very Nineties of them.
The truth of the matter is that gaming is so prevalent in our society, in our culture now, that labeling yourself a "Gamer" as we, the enthusiast subculture views it, is as meaningless as labeling ourselves as human beings. It's practically a given. Everyone is a gamer. Not only that, but contrary to what "We Gamin' " would have us believe, gaming itself has become a widespread socially acceptable pastime. Gaming is
cool. This leaves an interesting dichotomy.
We "Gamers" have always viewed video games as a type of schism that separates us from the general public as a whole. But in recent years, just like with anime and internet culture before us, the use and acceptability of video games has become mainstream, and that gap has closed. In a time where even grandma likes playing Peggle and Windows Solitaire (Sorry, no matter how hard you fight it, they are
both video games), we find our social identity under attack from within. We are being accosted by the very thing that we sought as our refuge (thus the title of this editorial. Yeah. See what I did there?). Our response to this assault has been largely negative.
We attack casual gaming as an enemy. Do you see how they're ruining gaming? The deluge of simple and catchy titles with a pick up and play appeal is forever destroying gaming for us, the Faithful. We were here first, and we don't like it.
But casual games aren't targeted at us. They're targeted at casual gamers. They make money from their demographic. They develop to their demographic. Casual gaming hasn't ruined anything for us, it's nothing more than a natural splinter of the gaming behemoth as it gains size due to its increased social acceptance as a pastime. Nothing more than the natural business evolution. Besides, before we point the finger at casual gamers, perhaps we should think back. Perhaps we should recall that it was us who bred the seed that would become casual gaming. Back before the popularity of gaming it was us who made famous games such as Tetris and its many clones. We started this trend of pick up and play. We made it a hit. We made puzzle games all the rage. And then now for us to say that they are the death knell of gaming? That's nothing less than hypocritical. When it comes down to it, I'm willing to bet that the majority of us still play casual games. I know I do. How then do we justify vilifying what we, ourselves, engage in propagating?
In the end what happens to us is, as it has always been, up to us. Perhaps change is called for. A change in definition of a social structure. A change in acceptance at a macro-community level. Perhaps we will continue our trend of turning a blind eye and laying blame on an emerging community that has yet to truly find its voice. Regardless the approach we as Gamers choose, a shift has already begun in our community. A shift that requires more thought and more effort on our parts. A shift that means that our idea of social identity takes on new meaning and transcends the boundaries that were previously so clearly marked.
What happens next is up to you and I.
We, the Gamers.