Redefining One’s Gaming Self (by using labels in an anti-label world)
I am going to buck the current trend, which advocates that there is no such thing as a definition of a gamer, or rather that anyone who plays any game should just exist in this amorphous clump of “gamers” with no additional label . I think that is bull, mainly because we define the world largely by how we choose to view it. My view is that I do not really care what anyone else’s definition of a gamer is. I have my own, and I define what type of gamer I am for my own introspective needs. I also define for myself how I view other gamers, again, for my own introspective needs. And while I agree that it is poor form to force your definition of a gamer on others, that does not mean that I am not entitled to my own. And if that is arrogance, well, I’ve been accused of worse. Also, let’s not get it twisted. I do not define who I am as a gamer, but “gamer” is one of the labels that makes up who I am. Along with husband. Father. Motorcyclist. Engineer. SCUBA Diver. Backpacker. Curmudgeon. Get it? It’s an over-under thing, or top level label… versus…lower-level?…just…forget it. Let’s move on. You’ll either get it or you won’t…
Defining My Inner-Gamer
These thoughts have recently sprung to mind because I am, currently, going through another redefinition of myself and what kind of gamer I am. The last time this happened was back in 2010 when my XBox 360 failed for the 4th time, and I left the platform, the service, and pretty much everything XBox. I left behind friends, game saves, content, my XBox Live ID…being trapped in a platform just because I had invested in some other elements besides the hardware did not sit right with me. That decision has become ingrained in me as a pattern of behavior; I do not sit idle in manure just because I have invested time and other things in a relationship of any kind. If it is not right for me to be part of something, it’s just not right and I’m gone.
In similar fashion, my Asus G75 also gave up the ghost in the past two weeks. And as I panned around for a replacement, with several cost constraints in place as I am preparing to move, I asked myself why I was stressing myself out to maintain a toehold on the PC gaming platform. There were, in contrast, lots of reasons why I shouldn’t; besides money, I mean. I rarely had time to really dig into meaty PC games anymore. I did not have a strong multiplayer friend-base on the PC. I’ve also recently clamped my number of allowed x86 workstations to two, or at least only two that run Windows. I’ve been wanting to branch out and play with other PC form-factors which might better support my work in other areas. Having one of two machines always required to be a gaming machine was becoming too constraining.
So, I resolved to not replace the Asus G75 with a pound-for-pound gaming machine. I also decided to focus my gaming on only three platforms at a time. Right now, those three platforms are iOS, the Nintendo 3DS, and Android. Over my nearly 40 years of gaming, I have most often defined myself as a gamer that plays on everything; someone who is in the know and current on every gaming platform out there. It will be interesting to take a breath, tighten my focus on a smaller number of platforms, and dive deeply into that small set. As opposed to buying every major thing for every platform. A burden lifted, one could say.
Being Defined By and Defining Others
That places me more so firmly into the camp of mobile gamers, which some try to define as being synonymous with “casual”. I define myself as anything other than casual. But you know what? If you want to apply that label to mobile gamers, that’s fine. That is your right. I do the same thing. Someone who only plays on one platform does not cross my threshold of being called a gamer. Someone who only plays World of Warcaraft doesn’t either. The person who just buys an XBox or PlayStation and pretty much only buys each year’s installment of Call of Duty and Madden? Also not a gamer.
OK. Throttle down. Let me caveat. Sure, these are gamers if they choose to define themselves as such. My point is that they are not the type of gamer that, generally, I am interested in having a long-term conversation with. They have their thing, but their thing and my thing are not the same thing. Sure, there are and have been some exceptions. A comment or two here or there in a forum, sure. But what I am saying is that the type of gamer that I gravitate towards having a long friendship and dialogue about gaming with is one who is a little more like me in terms of breadth of experience. Multiple platforms. Multiple genres. Not necessarily every single one of either of those, but someone who can speak to them across a wide range. What? Does that make me some sort of gaming snob? Maybe. If you want to take it there. I’m not saying I count those other types out. I’m just describing who I wind up spending more of my time having a conversation with.
While this past year has seen an intense clash between those who wield labels like a stick, and those who claim that anyone who uses labels at all is some sort of non-inclusive fascist, I say the hell with both sides. I use labels. It is a thing I use to keep vast amounts of information, not all of it useful or really valuable in any sense, in compartments for ease of recall and discussion. It is not any different than having friends you don’t mind seeing at a party and that other level of friends who you don’t mind helping move on a Saturday morning. I’ve never said that this gamer’s opinion is more relevant than that gamer’s opinion. I’m just saying, ya know, that I spend more of my time talking to fans of Motorsports than those who love college football. We’re all sports fans; but we’re not all of the same type. It’s just how I do things, and I suspect others are similar.
You know, a guy with a last name that starts with an S made a living for nine years making a show that was a lot about the labels we create to apply to ourselves and others. And most of America thought that show was pretty damned funny. Because it is what a lot of us do. Now, some of us take it to extremes and that is not good. You’d be right about that. But let’s not just go lumping every gamer who does so with regards to other gamers into the lot destined for Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell. Unless that’s a label. Then, of course, it’s your absolute right.