Experience Points: Are You The Games You Play?
I regularly wonder what defines us as gamers. Are we the games we play, or not? Normally this is a topic I often stray away from because it’s so broad in its nature and discussing it can be quite troublesome. I think often gamers become preoccupied with the games that other gamers play, and see it as some sort of indicator about a gamer’s status as a “gamer”. Caveshen, another writer on this site, has spoken about this kind of a topic many times before, more so in relation to Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2.
But this is not an issue particular to only one game or subset of gamers. For those not in the know, I recently completed a thesis about gaming and gaming culture within South Africa. So the topic of “What defines gamers” is truly up my alley in terms of its research promise.
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One of the biggest factors I identified in figuring out what defines gamers is that many “real gamers” or “hardcore gamers” (both terms are used constantly to pinpoint the dedication levels of these types of gamers) revere certain games as being staples of gaming at large. What I mean is there is this the prevailing sense that if you haven’t played a particular game, you are deemed invalid as a “gamer” by other gamers. The same can be said of console platforms and fanboy gamers, but the focus of this column is on games. You know what I mean, when another gamer finds out that you haven’t played Half-Life or Half-Life 2 you are seemingly inequal in status. It comes across that these judgemental gamers have some insider knowledge, a level of regard for games, that they feel you may not have for playing a particular game. If you haven’t played every single game on their list, you are now somehow not a gamer.
Really that’s the impression I get when dealing with these kinds of gamers in online environments and in real life at social events and expos. It becomes quite interesting when I addressed this dichotomy in my thesis between what gaming culture has defined as the casual gamer and the hardcore gamer. I often encountered the type of gamer that was neither of these categories, neither constantly dedicated to playing games every breathing moment and expressing a casual interest in games with a great focus on accessible gaming experiences.
Quite a few times the term “midcore” has been throw around, for gamers who have played some of the classics and also play “in-the-trend” games, that self-proclaiming hardcore gamers would classify as the staple of true gamers. These types of gamers will casually play these games, and are far less dedicated than the hardcore gamer. Are they less of a gamer, then?
Because when it comes down to it, all gamers play games and if what we play defines us, then what’s the problem if the game is not highly regarded by other gamers. Not all gamers are the same and have the same tastes. This type of judgemental behaviour does more harm than good, especially online and in the end it just helps to perpetuate stereotypes about gamers.