What exactly makes someone a “true gamer”? According to my friend, the only people that can call themselves gamers are the ones that live for the scene, not just some Mario-Kart playing posers. There’s nothing wrong with playing FarmVille on occasion but it seems that people like to differentiate between “people who play games” and “gamers”.
Some believe a gamer is anyone who enjoys playing games, even including casual games. However, going with this definition would be the same as saying that anyone who watches movies is a “film buff” and anyone who eats food is a “foodie”. That would be ridiculous because then literally 90% of those living in non-impoverished situations would be considered a film buffs and foodies; the terms would lose their meanings.
I think the purpose of this distinction is not to brag from a diamond pedestal of elitism and say “you are not a true gamer”, but rather to reduce the probability of someone thinking that casual games or brainless shooters are all there is to gaming, in an effort to encourage people to discover a world of amazing games that most don’t even know exist. At least, I’m hoping that is the mindset. It’s the only logical explanation. Otherwise, you’re just being a jerk. We can argue that even though that a professional basketball player invests more time and effort than the regular athlete in perfecting their talent – someone who plays basketball for their local high school is not any less of a basketball player.
There isn’t a true definition in the Oxford Dictionary so this leaves a lot of room for opinions. To me being a gamer means having passion for the craft, dedicating any free time to a game and trying to show others how great games can be. I’m really not convinced that spending hours on end and buying every single release is the only way to gain the title. Sure, if you’re in high school or university you could pull it off but throw in a full-time job, a booming social life and living alone in the big city – this becomes next to impossible. Trust me, I speak from experience. Most days, I’m grateful I can squeeze in one game of LOL. Am, I suddenly no longer a gamer? If I’m not, is there a grand jury that decides my fate?
Now, I totally understand that there is a distinction between hardcore and recreational gaming. There are people who spend hours bantering on message boards and defending the honor of their favorite franchise. The modern hardcore gamer, would say the worst thing about gaming is casual gamers. And then there are people who play video games a lot but don’t necessarily follow the industry’s every move. Aren’t both of these people gamers? Maybe different levels of gamers but they are both still gamers to me. I’d consider anyone who get excited when talking about something they did the night before in a game a gamer, just because I don’t think it’s about the type of game you play. There’s no need to create a tear system for something that is mean to be fun for everyone. There are too many ways to categorize people in the world today and this doesn’t have to be another one.
A hobby that used to be viewed as “un-cool” by society a decade ago, has how boomed into a national phenomenon and it continues to grow. I think gamers should rejoice that their passion has gained popularity and be proud of being part of the changing times. The great part about it is that no matter how good or invested someone is in the gaming world, everyone has a different experience and no one should take that away.
Cover image by: Jorge Gutierrez