131: Not a Gamer Anymore

Not a Gamer Anymore

"'Gamer' is what sociologists and marketing experts refer to as a lifestyle. In this respect, it's similar to being a soccer mom or a goth or a sports fan."

Jonahtan McCalmont examines the life of a non-gamer gamer.

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Great Read.

I think the term Gamer is as much a term as a "Fan" nowadays.

For example, i consider myself a Fan of the Simpsons (Ex-Fan maybe, since the series is in a serious decline and imo needs to give way to new and fresh concepts), but although i have a vast knowlege of episodes, anecdotes and trivia from the first 10 seasons, i was hardly ever identified as a "Fan" because when you've looked into my room, you would never find the six tons of merchandise, posters and "kitsch" related to the yellow family. Heck, even now i do not even possess a single video or DVD of the series (largely due to the fact that in Germany an hour's worth of simpsons is running every day on TV...for more than 10 years)

Still, i am a fan, and since i enjoy the Simpsons more than most people (well, except the last seasons)

In the present society, you are defined by what you possess. In the past, you would be considered a gamer if you would have a single system with more than two or three games.

But as this hobby grows more popular, it seems that you are only a true gamer if you fulfill certain requirements, and by that i mean you have to buy the high end stuff.

As arkwardly stupid as it is, playing DS, Xbox or whatever every single minute of your free time doesn't make you a "gamer"

Screw the lifestyle. I'm 31 and I've been gaming since 7 and I think I'm pretty damn good at it (well maybe not exactly good, but I do have patience and determination). What I mean is that while it's true "gamers" nowadays are very well informed and updated when it comes to the latest tech. when you actually sit down and play with them you notice that (or at least I did) you're skills are still kicking. The kid(s) I'm refering to here are my two little cousins (one is 14 and the other one is 10) and these kids really are serious "gamers" (they have a wii, a 360 and a PS3, along with a PSP and a DS), Me and my whife where over there in the holidays and while I admit that I pretty much got whooped on Halo 3 (not to good with console shooters) I owned those kids playing Madden and NBA live, and when it came to fighting games I got nailed in VF5, it was pretty much a draw with Tekken and they where totally humiliated in Street fighter. See where I'm getting? They may know more about the tech. that drives gaming today but I also realized that some of us "non gamers" are really skilled at this hobby we hold so dearly.

I'm pretty empathetic to the authors feelings. Video games and I are about the same age. So I've seen these things since nearly their inception. I actually played pong on a Magnavox Odyessy, even though it came out about the time I was born. And I've watched it grow up, and in all seriousness I paid a good bit of attention to it. Not that I was really into games, quite the contrary. I hated the Atari 2600, I thought the graphics were awful and the fun pretty marginal. I had computers, an Apple IIe, a commodore 64, a Mac Classic. I vividly remember DOS and booting directly to basic. Horrible times. DOS couldn't catch my attention for any length of time. It was really only useful if you were using a database or a word processor, or some spreadsheet. The efforts made to make it into something engaging, in my opinion, failed miserably. The people that owned PCs running DOS were one of a few types. Either rich and bored, in search of a new distraction, business people who had to take their work home with them, or the children of said businesspeople. I was friends with a few of the children in question. And for a long time I couldn't understand peoples enthusiasm. I think their enthusiasm had more to do with upwardly minded parents urging their children to get in on the ground floor of an industry back in Reagan's eighties. Booting to basic was about as much fun as reading a textbook. And while it was somewhat interesting, what you could do was pretty limited, with or without extensive study. I needed much more out of it to take it seriously. That Apple IIe saw little use, and was eventually sold. I remember the commodore 64 saw some use. It actually had some graphics, it didn't have a gui, but it could render some simple stuff, and that helped out their games a lot. I remember trying to get interested in Zork, and it bored the hell out of me. I've always loved art, and I think I needed a little visual stimulation out of the thing to take it at all seriously. I am also a pretty visual learner. Colecovision and Intellivision held my attention for a while, but I didn't own one, and decided I didn't want to spend my (my parents) money on one. They had enough financial burdens at the time. I was also seeing the technology get better and more engaging and decided to wait for better things later. I think my efforts have paid me in a way. Though I am not truly a gamer, certainly not hardcore or oldschool, I was pretty detached from what I considered to be pretty much crap wrapped in advertising with promises attached. What do I get out of it now? Is this thing going to be upgradable? The answer to the latter question was invariably no. and I didn't care a whit about the crap. Or what at the time I considered crap.

I didn't need one, but when Apple released their Macintosh, with their gui operating system, I thought, this is a good solution. It simplifies things and really makes for a good computing experience. I got one eventually, a MAC classic. I got it used and there were much better things on the market at the time. But there was enough software for it to keep me happy. Games included. Plus I could write papers on it while in college. I wish I still had that computer.

I remember it took a while for Microsoft to release it's first gui after Apple had done so. I thought Microsoft would lose if it didn't make some changes, and eventually they did. But it was a horrible disaster for years, Ugly, really relying on DOS for it's structure, still mostly for use as a database, and the games weren't up to snuff. At least they didn't meet my standards. I remember hearing about Half-Life. How revolutionary it was. 3D graphics cards, and other exciting things. I looked, but really thought it needed a lot of polish still. Besides which, such things were prohibitively expensive for me. I didn't own a television at that time in my life, much less a computer. Hell, often enough I didn't have an apartment of my own.

The internet had sort of a cult status at that point and sounded pretty interesting. But I couldn't afford a computer, and I had plenty of other things to keep me interested. I remember the .com bubble burst, and saw people's enthusiasm flag, and the overboard attitude of the businesspeople became publicly noticable. I had had a sense, even when I was 12, that a lot of this was business. You could tell by the orientation of PCs in their earliest days. No wonder I had looked to Apple at first. But the big failure of the industry validated a suspicion that I'd had. That it was something other than fun, or a good thing for individuals at home. It was a business. And if you do even a little digging today you'll see that in a big way. But a lot of my friends lost jobs during that. Small startups closed. People moved. People who had once paid for my drinks without a thought were asking for places to stay. But the internet had some good things in it, most of which seemed to live.

About the time of Broadbands slightly broader adoption, and About the release of DirectX 8 I was more interested. I had some money, a stable lifestyle, a place to live. a pretty normal circumstance. I finally bought a windows based PC. I learned how to build, partially for my own edification, partially because it seemed fun, and perhaps a useful skill. So I got my PC, got wound up to play some video games. So here I am now, playing modern video games, never really having been a part of it, just sort of periphreally aware of it, but paying attention, pretty close attention. Now I love it. It has gotten past it's rudimentary roots and has finally become engaging in something of a broader way. And I really enjoy it.

What does this have to do with the article? It seems sort of tangential you say? Well really, the point is that while you could have taken an interest in this at the time, and become a gamer at it's roots, It was possible to take an interest from a distance, and not be so involved. I think the term gamer, particularly attached to the term hardcore (and to a lesser extent oldschool) is really too hip for reality. It's inflated, like the .com boom, the coolness of it is really overblown. You see it now with complaints about innovative gameplay and it being fun as opposed to simply graphically exciting or in some other techincal way improved upon. I think kids get sucked in when there isn't a lot there, they relate to the things older kids (some of us in our thirties, and even older to some extent) talk about and inflate this thing into...something it's not. Okay games are fun, or can be. And I'm all for kids being able to play games, and I think it's a good thing, just overblown. You can see it in the expense of things like HD television, the technical excellence of the Sony PS3. And if you follow along with the tech stuff related to computer building, you'll see really costly stuff, A lot of which I think is unneccesary unless you're making movies or games themselves, and some other things. But being a gamer today is nearly a bizarre fetish, powered by businesses more than anything, and fun, it just needs some temperance from the industry that creates it, and some rational thought by consumers.

There is a lot of associated thinking and other stuff I experienced that is left out, but I think I got to the meat of it here.

[Is unedited]

So basically, you said that the commercialisation shouldn't suggest you do certain stuff?

Well, you are very right on that part, and that reviewing should honestly say what they think of a certain game.

In that perspective, we can only hope that the commercialisation of games won't go too far, as in they can only 'review' games... And the fact that someone from a lifestyle magazine publisher is now manager at gamespot does get my nightmare closer and closer.

What i'm trying to say is that the commercialisation can destroy the things we love and like.
Now, it isn't that bad, you at least get to know what you can choose from, but if commercialisation comes in the way of making games, we can be pretty damn sure it will only go downhill. But i think it's because of what i heard from the atari disaster, that made gaming itself not interesting itself. I think that's my nightmare, right there.

But i still agree that WE should make OUR decisions and not the advertisers.

Jonathan McCalmont:

*stuff*
A2M
*stuff*

ROFL

I really just don't know what to think about this article, well written though it may be. On the one hand I too resent the kids growing up today whose only exposure to video games comes from the likes of Halo and Grand Theft Auto. How can they be true gamers? Have they REALLY never played a side or top scrolling "shmup"? Have they never even been interested in the history and lineage of the games that came before the new crop of ultra-high-def, cinematic, billion dollar budget blockbusters? Is the frat-guy in line ahead of me at Best Buy holding the Halo 3 Legendary edition the new face of gaming? How come everyone looks at me funny when I mention a game made before 1995?

On the other hand I'm still fascinated with video games as a whole and still enjoy playing them. There are many gaming gems out there that don't require a lot of technical know-how or home-theater expertise to get the most fun from them and there are also some great ones that do. I certainly consider myself a gamer. I have been since I was born and will be until I die and nothing the industry does can change that. I'm an avid home-theater enthusiast but not having very much money doesn't net me the highest end components. I do have enough for some decent equipment which does help me get the most out of the movies I watch and the games I play. I have all the new next gen consoles on my A.V. rack so that I can play the newest games, but sitting right next to that shiny black PS3, like a dwarf in the shadow of a hill giant, is my original NES with "Simon's Quest" still in the cartridge slot. It's the one I grew up with as a kid. The first console system I ever got and it's stayed with me all these years. I've recently repaired the cartridge reader and brought my faithful friend to life again. Next to the X-Box 360 which currently has Mass Effect in the disc drive, is my toy-like Sega Master System, the "Cloud Master" cartridge seated atop it still holds the title as the game I've logged the most hours playing. The rest of my systems sit between the 360 and the Wii and read like an abridged timeline of console history. Atari 2600, Sega Genesis, Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Saturn, X-Box, PS2, Dreamcast. Not the most impressive collection but all still in working order, all connected, all regularly played, enjoyed, loved, not just by me but my friends and my wife, my Father and Mother, my Brother and Sister. I want to ask you why you'd say that you aren't a gamer? People always ask what makes a gamer. Some think it's mindless devotion. Others believe that it's rabid fanaticism. But I know that gamers are a part of something greater. A set of shared experiences and stories that enrich our lives and connect us to one-another. It's become as close to a religion as any single pastime can possibly be. So what if the rising tide of gaming culture lifts even the fanatics and zealots. So what if there are those who do not have our wisdom and experiance to put these new experiances into perspective. It's not HOW you worship, it's THAT you worship.

Don't lose the faith.

Zach.

EvilEngineNumberNine:
I really just don't know what to think about this article, well written though it may be. On the one hand I too resent the kids growing up today whose only exposure to video games comes from the likes of Halo and Grand Theft Auto. How can they be true gamers? Have they REALLY never played a side or top scrolling "shmup"? Have they never even been interested in the history and lineage of the games that came before the new crop of ultra-high-def, cinematic, billion dollar budget blockbusters? Is the frat-guy in line ahead of me at Best Buy holding the Halo 3 Legendary edition the new face of gaming? How come everyone looks at me funny when I mention a game made before 1995?

Of course they're "gamers", in the sense of "people who enjoy playing video games". Are they the same "lifestyle" (imagine I'm making air quotes, as the text quotes don't adequately convey the sarcasm) as those who grew up with the games of the 1980s like several posters in this thread, or even the games of the 1990s like I did? Probably not.

I don't think the author is "not a gamer anymore", because clearly he still plays games, but that he's not the "hardcore gamer" he used to be.

If you don't want to fall into the groups then you shouln't even make them part of your life. Stick to basics. If you game then well your a gamer. Don't let anyone try to say that there are different levels of gamers. Thats ridclous. There are gamers and there are gamers who are also consumers...with lots of money to waste. I don't need to see every detail to enjoy the games I play. if that where the case mario would have never have gone anywhere. Like in fight club you cant let the things you own end up owning you. You are letting yourself be pulled into this stereotype that is deadly to the person you really are. The problem isn't with the markets selling to spefic 'groups' but that we as indivuals allow ourself to be placed into a group to start with. The blame is upon us, not them. They are just doing what sells. You can't blame them for using what works. They didn't start this, they just use it as our greatest weakness. One we all self created. Im not like them Im a freak, an outcast and proud of it. No, you shouldn't have given yourself a title. you should have said you where an individual. With your own views and thoughts and you dont conform to any one groups standards or thoughts. The markets are just helping to enforce these stereotypes. You could say that is wrong but you can't blame them. the market is jsut doing what is in its nature. It will always find a way to pin point peoples weaknesses and use it to their advantage. A persons personal need to have everything new and up to date for games is not what defines tham as a gamer or a 'hardcore gamer' if you will. Its why they play the game in the first place that makes them a gamer. what keeps them coming back for more and always searching for that diamond in the ruff. their is no such thing as an artist and a hard core artist. an artist is someone who is deciated to the whole concept and does it for the joy of creating and inspiring others. an artist dosent draw to have the latest brushes and pads of paper. It helps but it dosent define them as an artist. nor does it help their skill in the long run. the skills and passion dosent come from the tools used to create. it comes from within the person. when you start to mix the two you have lost what it really means to be a gamer in the first place.

^_^

The reason any "lifestylist" can say that being a gamer is a lifestyle mainly depends on demographics of time. Allow me to elaborate. I'm 29 and started playing Atari, ColecoVision and the Comm64. The next step was the NES (and to this day I still enjoy playing Final Fantasy, Mario and Dragon Warrior)and SEGA. At this point in time, gaming was really changing from Pong (first brought out in the 70s *props to Carrot for having played it back in the day*)to the 8 bit graphics. More in depth, better storyline and an actual ending. From the stand up arcades to sit down home consoles, things really were changing and "the gamer" was being born.

Now, to speed up and get to the point, the 70s-early 90s gamers are not the same gamers of today. Yes, I have the 42" 1080p lcd. Yes, I have it hooked up to surround sound and networked my computer through it. Yes, I play some sort of video game for at least an hour every night. BUT...I was not really born into video games the way kids are now. They are "gamers" because it was there before they could remember. It is part of that demographics life style. Most girls my age wouldn't touch a controller unless it was for Mario Kart or Super Mario brothers. Now, there are a ton of girls who talk smack and can back it up in Halo 3. I've met my younger cousins' friends that say they won't date a guy UNLESS they play video games. How times have changed!

So, I say to you, I'm an original gamer. I don't take all the advertising bru-ha-ha because I couldn't care less. They aren't advertising to MY demographic. I was there pumping quarters into stand-up Double Dragon and Spy Hunter at the mall arcade. I buy the gaming stuff now because I love having cool stuff and high tech toys rule. The "gamers" are today are only that because they were born it. I, like many others my age and older, sought it out because they were fun and we can still kick the "gamers" of today's asses 95% of the time. These kids aren't gamers, they are a demographic.

Peace out
Spinwhiz ~ A True Gamer

I agree with you Spinwhiz. It's true that games are practically FORCED on kids today. As a result games don't mean the same to them as they do to those of an earlier generation who had to search and scrape for every new game experiance. But I do still think that we should all ban together. Even those without our pedigree deserve to have games in their life. It's up to us as now and future parents to teach our children the import of gaming culture and not allow them to be swept up in the increasingly commercial aspect of our beloved society.

EvilEngineNumberNine:
But I do still think that we should all ban together. Even those without our pedigree deserve to have games in their life. It's up to us as now and future parents to teach our children the import of gaming culture and not allow them to be swept up in the increasingly commercial aspect of our beloved society.

Well put! I think the advertising is fine but they need to be able to make their own decisions on gaming. I personally enjoy the ads for games, but I'm aware that some of that could complete BS. So, the main thing is to promote "gamer" by choice, not force :)

This whole thread revolves around categorizing people, and people categorizing themselves. It's risky business, stereotyping, because assumptions you make about others are always dubious ones. From a marketing standpoint, 'gamer' is far to large a category to be effective. There's simply too many sub-categories and in fact it's not even agreed upon what the sub-categories are. The only console I play is Wii (it was the cheapest next-gen...at least until I bought all the extra controllers...) so I guess I'm not hard-core, except I PC game pretty regularly. I also design and play card and board games and work for a web-based game company (which makes casual games for little girls...are they gamers?)

As for the 'lifestyle' guy being put in charge of the game magazine. Look for it to fail unless people that know something are given the support they require. Fans know authentic and when they don't get it, they bail. You can't dump garbage on the consumer and expect to succeed anymore. This is the internet age, when one of us smells crap, the rest of us get the memo in seconds.

Wildcard6:
This whole thread revolves around categorizing people, and people categorizing themselves. It's risky business, stereotyping, because assumptions you make about others are always dubious ones. [Snip]

As for the 'lifestyle' guy being put in charge of the game magazine. Look for it to fail unless people that know something are given the support they require. Fans know authentic and when they don't get it, they bail. You can't dump garbage on the consumer and expect to succeed anymore. This is the internet age, when one of us smells crap, the rest of us get the memo in seconds.

Very well said, Wildcard. I enjoyed the article and even laughed out loud, even though I think any quote of Alvin Toffler should have a large "Warning! Moron citation ahead!" warning before it. (Anyone remember which US President hired so many cronies as experts that he ran out of titles and some had to be hired as "general experts"? I can't recall, but I always think of that term when I see the Tofflers mentioned or heaven forbid quoted.) Anyway, Wildcard's exactly correct; so-called lifestyles are artificial marketing constructs, and those who use them as a basis for a magazine almost invariably begin believing their own tripe. The gamer lifestyle overlaps with dozens of other defined lifestyles and incorporates hardcore Goths as well as evangelical Christians, jocks as well as ubernerds, and so forth. Magazines which present a common hobby as a well-defined lifestyle quickly become tedious and stale, and web sites go through a slower version of the same slide.

I was introduced to gaming in general on pinball machines, and to home gaming as a teenager on a bright yellow POS Pong console. I've been gaming over thirty years and I know alot of other people who game. Of those, exactly none are defined by gaming. Even those who work in gaming have other interest just as strong. It is easier than ever to access other interests and cultures thanks to television and the internet (thanks Al Gore!) so that rather than being more isolated, people have easier access to parts of society they would never see even thirty years ago. While it's undoubtably true that no one can understand all of our culture, that's always been true. With today's media and affluence, a kid in rural Oregon can share more in common with someone in New York City than with his neighbor, but not as a lifestyle. People have links across the world in various interests, and the Oregon kid who's a hardcore gamer probably shares a love of anime with the New York kid who's a music nerd, an interest in Japanese culture with the British kid, an interest in Barak Obama with the jock from Florida, etc.

Wildcard6:
This is the internet age, when one of us smells crap, the rest of us get the memo in seconds.

That will be my away message today! Well said!

That was a great read, and encompasses a lot of what I have been going through as a gamer myself. back in my youth, you were a gamer if you played games (this is SNES/Genesis era, i'm speaking of), you just had to play a few games, enough to be able to chat about it with friends on the playground. But as gaming has become more popular, it has of course splintered and become more diverse. Calling yourself a gamer can mean anything now. You can be a retro gamer, hardcore gamer, PC, console, and more.

I have even heard arguments that playing only older games like SNES and back doesn't make you a gamer. Just the fact that people can consider that a legitimate argument shows where we are.

It's tough being a gamer these days in this respect. I have spent a lot of time dedicated to games, through a website I run, through actual studying of the history of games (through books and research), trying to play all the games considered "classics" and just reading about video games daily on the internet these days. But as soon as I let out that I don't like Halo, all my gamer "credibility" is lost.

I love video games, and feel like all the time i've spent with them has not been wasted, and plan on spending a lot more time studying them, playing them, and thinking about all the issues gaming has these days. But you will probably never hear me call myself a "Gamer" because just like the guy in the article, the people who tout the title around are not the same as me. gaming to me has been an exercise in things that I find fun and interesting, not some sort of code i have to live by.

"Are you hardcore, or are you some kind of Wii-fondling casual gamer?"

HEY!! My MOM is a wii-fondling casual gamer!

J/k, I enjoyed this article and especially said quote.

It's tough being a gamer these days in this respect. I have spent a lot of time dedicated to games, through a website I run, through actual studying of the history of games (through books and research), trying to play all the games considered "classics" and just reading about video games daily on the internet these days. But as soon as I let out that I don't like Halo, all my gamer "credibility" is lost.

Only to idiots who think they represent what gamers should be.

that was an amazing read

"Now gamers are the guys who need to have a TV capable of 1080p resolution because they need to see every detail of a character's pained expression when they shoot him in the face with a shotgun."

Well said lol.

 

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