It might seem like a question without an answer; the word means something different to everyone after all. The idea of being a gamer, or what a gamer is, by definition, keeps being brought up in various forms in the last year or two. The industry has grown, multiplied, expanded in ways that the original developers of games like Q'Bert and Pong couldn't possibly have imagined. When the original Dungeons and Dragons began in the 70's, would they have any idea how large, how multinational the RPG industry would become?
How do we define ourselves under the banner of games? How should we? Is there a way to answer these sort of questions correctly? Fortunately, the Downloadable Content podcast that has recently tried to answer just that.Normally I have found that Downloadable Content is a podcast that enjoys rambling on about its various subjects, and that the time is filled with the various people taking jabs at each other or trying to one up with great remarks or jokes to get their point across. ...Not to say that's a bad thing, it is a podcast after all, many of which are listened to because they can be so conversational and casual. However, with this particular issue, with trying to somehow summarize or justify an entire industry, I was surprised to see us taking more turns, giving people the full chance to articulate their side.
It was a good thing to see: "What does "Gamer" mean" is a question that doesn't really have a right answer. Its more of a "Where do we go from here?" than anything else. To try and say only those that are good at Halo or League of Legends are gamers is much too small a term, and the idea that everyone who picks up a controller occasionally wants to be labelled as such is absurd. On a more serious note, the idea of someone being a 'real gamer' or not became something of a hot point in the last year or two, as women started being verbally assaulted for being 'fake gamers' online and at conventions.
Much has been said on the subject already. There was a well thought magazine article on the subject in Febuary, as well as a Youtube argument started on PBS Game/Show, both of which bring up how the term "Gamer" has been used to keep people out, rather than bring people inside. How a growing industry of mobile games, and more games that are not built around traditional publishing or genres, has caused this debate to really come to the fore. If you read or listen to enough of these articles in a row, its hard not to feel like this is the debate our subculture has to talk about.
The Downloadable Content podcast is here, and myself and Ben argue on it, with several other people, about what it means to be a Gamer...whether or not should the term even exist anymore. To my own credit, I am an optimist; I was born in a time where saying you were a gamer would get a nose turned up at you... now, not so much. In fact, by opening, and excitedly sharing the games I'm interested in at social situations has opened doors for me more than they close them now. I don't want to give that up. To me, being a gamer is like having a constant invitation to try something new, to let yourself have a chance to escape and try something different than anything else I've tried before.
What do you think?