Don’t Call Me a Gamer

About two weeks ago, an incident occurred that got me thinking about the topic I would discuss with our followers. This happened at the beginning of my economics class. My professor doing roll call. What she does is have all of our names written on index cards, and mark off on the cards whether we are present or not. But this time, she was missing a few people. So she was searching her bags, the floor, and so forth. After a few minutes, the girl next to me decided to speak up and said the following (in a non-sarcastic tone): “I’m going to sound like a complete nerd for saying this, but why don’t you get a box for the attendance cards so you don’t lose them.” I was glad I had a dentist scheduled for the following day, since I was sure that my teeth needed a check up after the large amount of teeth grinding/clenching that occurred.

Now, why did this annoy me?  Was it because if people were to put a label on me, “nerd” is very likely to show up?  Was it just because of a pet peeve I have regarding the misuse of the term “nerd”, or was it something more? Am I overreacting? I might be. But after a while of hearing similar anecdotes, I just got tired of hearing the phrase “such a nerd”.

Here’s a quick test to see if see if this irks you too. Go to http://www.openstatussearch.com/?q=such+a+nerd. Keep going until you can’t look anymore. I assure you that you’ll find some status updates that you will find the use of the phrase “such a nerd” inappropriate.

However, the use of “such a nerd” isn’t as bothersome to me as the term “gamer”. I avoid using it to describe myself and in using it in a conversation as much as possible. The meaning of “gamer” is what I really would like to talk about.

“But Steve, you have a website where more than half of the posts are related to video gamers! I’m pretty sure you’re a gamer”.
Sure, I’ll admit that video games are tied with the internet as my primary source of entertainment. I enjoy video games. I would even consider it a hobby. But “gamer”, I am not. I’m sure if you ask any person to describe what is a gamer, the answer you’ll get is somewhere along the lines of someone who spends a lot of time glued to a video screen, playing video games.  The “gamer” is most likely socially inept, has a terrible diet involving junk food and soda, and probably has a funky odor. Probably has a bad temper as well.

However, the definition of gamer has been changing, in my humble opinion, for the worse. You have people who consider themselves a gamer, yet has only played games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja on their phones. You also have people who claim to be an avid gamer, yet doesn’t even know what Steam is (Yes, I’ve encountered this). I even met someone at Gamestop who didn’t know the difference between  composite and  component cables. You could classify these people as “casual gamers”, but even that adjective in front is far too broad. I would ideally would like to see “casual gamer” being used to describe who plays videos on a semi-regular basis, meaning that the person’s lives doesn’t revolve around video games, but treats it as a source of entertainment, just like TV or the internet. However, the typical definition I encounter for “casual gamer” is anyone who tends to play “simplistic” games,  like iPhone games, sports games, and console shooters.

That also leads to the question “what is a hardcore gamer”? You would think that the meaning would be straight forward, since the term hardcore, according to Dictionary.com, means “unswervingly committed; uncompromising; dedicated”. Alas, it isn’t that simple. Now that Call of Duty and similar console shooters have been quite popular, those ‘gamers’  took the term for themselves. The common definition for someone who is considered hardcore gamer nowadays is someone who is working on their next prestige level, relies on quick scope, and is prone to shooting through their Xbox headset. Prior to the popularity of Call of Duty, I would have considered a hardcore gamer  a person who has a extensive collection of games and built their own gaming computer. Nowadays, all you would need is just the latest Call of Duty to be hardcore. Guess it’s cheaper that way.

So what am I to do when it comes to describing my relationship with video games? I can’t describe myself as a gamer since the term is open to interruption unless I explain specifically what I enjoy. Sticking an adjective in front of “gamer” doesn’t help out either, whether it’s casual or hardcore. Speaking of which, please do not get me started on the term “girl gamer”. I will elaborate my feelings on this either in a future editorial or in a “C’mon, Step It Up” episode.

That leaves me with using one of the following. I could be a “recreational gamer” meaning that I just play games for fun, but people would question how is it different from a casual gamer. There’s also video game hobbyist or enthusiast, but then people would ask why I just don’t use gamer. Like I said in the beginning, perhaps I’m overacting. It’s just a word. I even accept that fact that I’m a nerd(more so a geek), but the traditional sense (an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity). But please, don’t call me a gamer. I don’t want to that label if I don’t identify with others that use it. For now, just call me Steve, a guy who enjoys video games.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t Call Me a Gamer”

  1. Interesting post, I appreciate your articulate thoughts on the subject. I got on a soapbox in one of my posts about the “casual gamer” label http://littlesistergaming.com/2012/06/18/death-to-the-casual-gamer/ (which actually, on closer inspection, you “liked”!) but I think our sentiments are generally the same. The one difference being, I prefer people call me a gamer, so then they’ll make fun of me for either being a casual or hardcore or CoD enthusiast, or whatever their misconceptions are, and I can simply say “Nah, a gamer is someone who just has gaming as one of their top three hobbies” (my simplistic definition). So I don’t care if you play 24 hours a day of WoW or play Fruit Ninja whenever you have a free moment, you’re a gamer. This blanket statement does not apply to you, Steve, since you’ve politely requested not be identified as such, and I respect that.

    Bottom line: I think everyone who plays video games needs to stick together to convince others that it’s not abnormal to play games and it doesn’t mean you’re living in your mom’s basement at 30; it truly just means you like games, and then there’s a smorgasbord of personalities and backgrounds and lifestyles within that community, just like any other community of hobbyists. Anyway. Good post, Steve! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject!

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  2. I’m a Gamer. I play any games I want. I don’t let other peoples reviews affect my judgement. So what if I want to play Afrika on PS3. I will play the most causal games on Android. Will I pay for those casual games is a different question and a different subject. Gamers plays games. The problem with casual gamers is they are made up of the same people who always told you “you are wasting your life playing those games” parents and grandparents, and lets not forget the people who look down on gamers and then go play farmville 24/7. I know who I am but that can’t be said for everyone in the world

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  3. I’m OK with being called a “gamer”, it doesn’t really bother me. What infuriates me is when people have to stick “girl” (or even worse – “grrl”) in front of it. Yeah, I’m female and I play video games, big deal.
    Also, the next video game store employee who points me in the direction of the pink games is going to get a kick to the shins. 🙂

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  4. I get what you’re saying. When I got back into gaming some years back, I railed against being called a “gamer.” Sure I played, but I didn’t, couldn’t see myself in the same group of fanatics that seemed to spend every waking with video games. Now I don’t mind it so much, and I’ll identify myself as such in writings for clarity, but that’s about as far as it goes. In my mind a “gamer” is someone who *really* knows games or who strives to understand the industry, like a historian studies history. I like history and I like games, let’s just leave it at that.

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