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The Gamer Label

Do you consider yourself a gamer? If so, then what would you say makes you, or anyone for that matter, a gamer? Most people would say it is because someone plays games, but how many or how frequently must you play in order to be labelled a gamer? More importantly, why must somebody who plays games be labelled in the first place? Does playing games somehow make you different from those who don’t? That’s a lot of questions to open with, so allow me to make some statements on the subject.

The term Gamer, along with its ugly cousins; Causal Gamer and Hardcore Gamer need to stop being used. They are as out-dated as a walkman at this point, these terms were used in the early days of gaming to describe what kind of games a person (or gamer if you will) played. More to the point, these terms were never really valid; it is the ways in which a person plays a game that determines which of those groups they would fall into. These terms stereotype people in a very negative way and need to stop being used, people that watch a lot of films aren’t put into hardcore and casual groups and neither are people who read a lot. People that play games do not need a label to gratify or justify their hobby.

The only reason gaming still carries a unique term for its audience, is simply because the medium itself it still young and nowhere near as established as film, literature or theatre are. Games are just a new form of entertainment, a means in which a story can be told or an experience realised. Games are arguably the best way to do both of these, because they are an interactive experience, the chain of events isn’t delivered to you; they are experienced by you, the player. By generalising fans of a medium, you generalise the medium itself, everybody knows what the typical connotations are for the word gamer and they are not good to say the least. 

These are literally two of the three very first images upon typing the word "gamer" into google.
Go ahead, try it and see.

These connotations are important because unlike most things associated with the gaming industry; they are something that we, the consumer have the power to change. Basically what I’m saying is that if you have ever thought that playing games makes you better than people that don’t, you are not helping. Of course there are the ones that we can’t do much about, like the basement dwelling fifty year old that still lives off their parents but that’s sort of beside the point I’m trying to make here. That being that somebody who plays games is not a gamer, nor or is a girl that plays games a girl-gamer. They are simply people with a hobby, in the exact same way as someone who plays golf or hockey. The term gamer is only given meaning by the stereotype that accompanies it. Eliminate that and we eliminate the term.

Above all else, playing games is normal, there doesn’t need to be a name given to the people that play games.  Due to the way gaming has been treated, people that play them have been isolated and set apart from others, which is ludicrously ironic when you think about it. As long as gaming is seen as abnormal, people that play games will be seen as abnormal and as we all know, anything that is considered abnormal must be given a label. For gaming, it is the word gamer, which carries all those negative stereotypes.

So do your part to not isolate gaming from everything else, don’t talk trash online, be capable of talking about something other than games with people that don’t play them and more importantly, don’t act like you’re different from everyone else because you happen to play games. Treat the medium with the respect it deserves, and then maybe just maybe at least some of the negativity associated with the term gamer, will go away.


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