I’ve been thinking about this for a long, long time. I already know it’s going to piss people off, but it needs to be said. I’m willing to deal with any negativity that comes my way as a result, but it’s been bugging me for a long, long time.
Gaming was a niche thing for the longest time, and it WAS quite heavily male oriented (that’s being remedied as time goes on, whether people like it or not.) It was a small community, a culture; a secret club. You knew the games, you knew the jokes and you knew the references. It was great.
Gaming has very recently in the past 10 years or so taken a huge spike in popularity and acceptance in the mainstream media. This is normal, of course; I can’t think of any successful form of entertainment that makes billions of dollars year after year in such a medium that WOULDN’T become as big as it has been. With the sudden growth, our small community, our “secret club” suddenly exploded, and there were more people than you could shake a stick at.
This obviously upset some older people who’d been with gaming “before it was cool”, but I mean really, fuck those guys. I was with gaming “before it was cool” too, and I don’t care that gaming exploded in popularity. You know why? Gamers are gamers. The club is not-so-secret anymore, but anyone who decides to proudly wear the title of a gamer, does so because of one thing; they have a passion for the hobby.
This is where things get silly. Inside this giant club, you have people who want to stand out amongst the gaming community, or feel “accepted” amongst the community. This is why “girl gamers” and “gaymers” became a thing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a website dedicated to “gay gamers”, or “girl gamers”, because everyone should have a community they feel safe within, especially with the hostility of the internet and people in general. What I do not like, however, is that people labeling themselves begin to segregate the community. If you start going around calling yourself a “girl gamer” or “gaymer” it seems like you’re trying to distinguish yourself from the pack. As if you’re trying to be “above” the culture, or be “different” for the sake of being different.
I’m not stupid, and I’m aware that isn’t the case the majority of the time (Attention whores will always be attention whores) but it leaves a bad taste in peoples mouths. When you start calling it “us” and “them”, it’s when divides start, and people start seeing you AS a “girl gamer” or “gaymer”. You’re no longer just a gamer. You’re no longer part of the wonderful culture and hobby, you’re now a sub-group. You’re now different, and it’s silly. Why would we do this to ourselves? I just don’t understand it. I know people don’t want to be associated with all the negative shit going on with gaming right now; that people want to stand out from all the bullshit immaturity and sexism, homophobia, and general awfulness of the industry as it currently stands. This industry has a LOT of growing up to do. Guess what? It WILL grow up. These are growing pains, and we are all GAMERS, together, united. We are going to be united against these blows to us and to our public image, and we’ll whether the storm, UNITED.
We do not need to segregate ourselves. Let’s also talk about casual vs. hardcore; it’s becoming FAR less common these days, because who knew, the angsty teenagers grew up and realized there’s more to the world than their “hardcore” games; they’re getting older, time is becoming more scarce, and hey, a phone game can be pretty satisfying on those 15 minute breaks at work. Who knew, right? Who knew that “casual games” could actually be fun? It’s silly, just.. silly.
I know moms who play casual games more hardcore than most “hardcore” gamers do. I know some moms who rival on MLG-levels with how much time they spend dedicated to their specific game. It’s the same hobby, folks. Just different flavors.
We call ourselves gamers for one simple reason; we love videogames, and we love the industry (despite its flaws and it’s growing pains) and we all share that in common. Why can’t we just bond over that? Why can’t we have good feels, and be happy, and all just be “gamers”? Why can’t we unite, for the greater good of our industry and change things for the better? Lessen these growing pains!
We’ve already seen through childs play and through other various acts of kindness, of exactly what the gaming community is capable of. We’re smart, we have good hand-eye coordination, and fast reflexes; we have been training ourselves through videogames to think outside of the box, and if we all worked together, there’s nothing we couldn’t do. It’s just a matter of staying united and working towards that great goal!
I’m not even going to touch on the “console wars”, because as nasty as it can get, it’s not much different than sports teams. You pick your team, and you’re dedicated to them. Sure, the big companies don’t care, but rivalry is also part of gaming. It’s that competitive nature.. and while I may not agree with how nasty it can get, it’s still not as bad as I’ve seen some sports fans behave.. (lookin’ at you, soccer!)