On labels among gamers

Reading Talarian’s thoughtful piece on the gamer identity reminded me of my old ‘hardcore gamer’ debates.

The last time I got sucked into them with my console casual of a colleague, he left me with an analogy I can’t forget, which, coincidentally, Murf also used:

“I don’t call people who only play certain games gamers. Just like you wouldn’t call someone who only enjoys ramen a foodie.”

I recall I went, “Okay, so you would call that person a… ramen lover?” He concurred, and I continued, “So what does that make someone who only plays DoTA? Or Destiny? Or…”

(Hence if they ever make a game called Dog, I’m going to have to deep-dive into it for reputation’s sake.)

Labeling falls short here, because games are not food are not games. But the knock-on effects of self-identifying as a gamer aside, I think it can be quite utilitarian in certain settings.

‘Gamer’, like ‘hardcore’, is not always a badge to be worn with pride (or shame). It can be a shortcut, a filter, a mode of categorization. “I’m a gamer” has opened social doors for me in certain company. Similarly, “I’m not a hardcore gamer – I avoid competition games” has elicited reactions that warn me immediately that I’m preaching to the coven.

And the latter is where it gets interesting. Because so few where I am put any serious thought into defining the abstract concepts behind gaming as a hobby, the very nebulousness of these labels is an asset. Some I’ve met think ‘hardcore games’ means MOBAs. Or popular, mainstream titles like the Call of Duty franchise. Others, curiously, think it means ‘arthousy’ titles like Gone Home or Elegy for a Dead World (I know, what the?).

Which means that if one is willing to be flexible, labels become excellent ice-breakers and conversation starters. I think I’m a touch too sociopathic to take Dale Carnegie’s life-changing advice on winning friends, myself, but I acknowledge the wisdom of something he said on that count: avoiding the acute angle.

Better to accommodate others’ preconceptions than to correct them. Especially if there is no real correct answer, like in this case.

Any conversation about gaming hinges on not just what the parties involved know – but what they think. One side accommodating on the thought front is good for social interaction. All sides accommodating could make for a great discussion.

Postscript

I have also been thinking about the ‘gamer girl’ issue since Ravanel’s post on the same. But I shan’t go further.

My comments on that post stemmed from personal experience as a geek gamer in a society where that activity is not only frowned upon, but, in ultraconservative households like mine, ruthlessly castigated. The topic of gamer girls is (while still an identity issue) a sideshow as far as I’m concerned.

They’re less rare a breed where I am than they were 20 years ago. Which is a good thing. And I don’t care how they style themselves, as long as they, to use Murf’s words, broaden the love of gaming. All aboard!

Advertisements

Shtay a while, and... talk!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: