Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Don't Use the Word "Gamer"

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 24 Aug 2010 12:00
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I have a request, planet Earth. I have graced you with my presence for 27 years and I think it's only fair you do something for me in return. I want everyone to stop using the word "gamer".

I know it's going to be tough. Language shifts always are. It's going to be a hard word to let go of. It's been a great comfort in all the years that hardship gamers - I mean, "people who play videogames" have spent battling for acceptance. To say one is a gamer is to belong to a group, and it's human nature to want to belong, to know that there are others carrying the pennant alongside you, even if it they have acne and smell faintly of milk.

No, you probably don't have acne and don't smell of milk (although some of you almost certainly do) but "gamer" is a label, and whenever a label is used, an image of the stereotype attached to that label flips up unwarranted into your unconscious mind. Anyone who identifies as a "gamer" will create a very specific image in the mind of the layman. Probably something somewhere between one of the Columbine killers and that shouty German kid from YouTube. Or a sweaty, fat, neckbearded manchild weeping over their Aeris body pillows (or is it Aerith? I can never remember).

It is frustrating that this image exists, but it's nothing anyone can help. It's a status quo thing and a mass media thing and those are always hard to shift. But people who completely aren't helping the case at all are the ones who take an almost revolutionary pride in their "gamer" status. "I am gamer", they say, "hear me whine". If you want an example of the kind of person I'm talking about, click on the comments link down below, and there'll probably be a few who fell for the bait in the last paragraph and are now arguing over the correct spelling of whatever that flaky bint's name was. These are the people who hurl abuse at film critics who question the artistic potential of games and send death threats to Jack Thompson - which only proved his point. Whatever happened to that guy, by the way? I guess after he got disbarred he slipped back down to the "strange man yelling from porch" level on The Sims career track for Moral Guardians.

I'm not saying you have to be ashamed of playing videogames, but I'm not saying you should be proud and shouting it from the rooftops either. It's not like being a gay vicar or a female boxer or a quadruple amputee ping pong champion. Being a player of games does not make one a minority or part of an elite club, as employing a label like "gamer" wordlessly implies. Games aren't important. Well, they are for me, because they're my job. I am professionally obliged to critique, analyze and catalog games, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But that's just me. I'm like some esteemed professor of pizza-making who aspires to know everything about the process of pizza and devotes their life to finding the greatest pizzas of all time. Society does need these people because you never know when some pizza issue will come up that requires an expert's consultation, but they're not exactly changing the world, and they don't expect their customers to call themselves "Pizzarillas" and run around wearing pizza-themed T-shirts.

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