With the whole GamerGate fiasco that’s been going down in recent months, the idea of “Gamers are dead” because everyone plays games now, whether it be on their phones on the subway, for hours on a PC, or anywhere in between, has come up. And I respectfully disagree with that statement.
The term Gamer is meant to be a term for a Games Enthusiast. Someone who not only plays games, but also reads and writes about them, blogs about them, subscribes to magazines (or used to before the internet was a thing), discuss them with other Games enthusiasts, and even make them on their own time. It isn’t just a thing to pass the time on the subway, it’s a major hobby that occupies a large majority of free time.
The logic of “Everyone is a gamer now, therefore no one is” doesn’t make sense to me. I wear clothing regularly like everyone else does, but that doesn’t make me a Fashionista, or Fashion Enthusiast. I eat food like everyone else, but that doesn’t make me a Foodie, or a Food Enthusiast. If I owned a car, I wouldn’t be a Gearhead, or Car Enthusiast, as a result.
Gamers are not dead. I haven’t lost my enthusiasm for playing and creating games. But some have, namely many female game developers and enthusiasts who have been the target of gross amounts of hate and misogyny simply for being female. Which is gross.
To me, it’s not that Gamers are dead, but instead that the term has been hijacked and twisted to mean something else entirely. The mainstream media often tries to depict Gamers as petty, apathetic, socially inept teenagers filled with angst and hate with no healthy outlet for their emotions, and therefore escape into games in order to cope. And because the loudest voices among Gamers are basically the petty, apathetic, and socially inept, that’s how the media labels ALL Gamers.
Except that we’re not.
Most Gamers actually want to see a large variety of different games, with different stories and perspectives. I’m craving variety right now, and I’m not getting it from the AAA publishers. The ever-growing indie games scene is where the variety is coming from right now, and that’s where you’re seeing all the variety. But somehow the ones causing all the noise and making all Gamers look bad think that variety means that their favourite games somehow disappear. I have something to tell you: Activision will still be making Call Of Duty over and over again for years to come. It’s not going to disappear because women want to make games about anything other than shooting brown people. Same goes for Battlefield, Gears Of War, and many other games you cling to.
The Gamers I know are a very welcoming bunch. They’ll accept you regardless of gender, skin colour, sexual preference, and so on. As long as you’re someone that isn’t largely negative and share the same passion for games, you’re welcomed with open arms.
And the ones that are spreading misogyny and hate, slut-shaming and harassing women in the games industry and within gamer culture? I’m going to say this as simply as I can.
You. Are. NOT. Gamers.
You may spend some of your time playing games, but you do not do anything other than that to express your enthusiasm for the hobby. You do not drive the direction of games in any way. You don’t add anything to the conversation beyond spreading hate. In fact, you spend more time discussing your hatred for people than you do discussing games themselves.
That is not enthusiasm for games. That’s enthusiasm for bigotry. You are BIGOTS, and that’s what you should be called. That’s your label now.
You do not represent me, or any Games Enthusiasts at large. The game developers and publishers are not siding with you. The games journalists are not siding with you. Even the culture you claim to be in does not side with you.
I’m taking back the term Gamer for myself and anyone that wants the term to become what it was, and always should have been: people who have a passion for games. Anyone that wants to exclude anyone else for that just for their sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, or whatever, can go away and bitch about it with the other Bigots.
I am a Gamer, always have been, and always will be. And if you’re more concerned with games than you are with making sure only certain people get to make or talk about them, you’re welcome to be one too.
P.S. If anyone wants to call me a Social Justice Warrior over this, can you do me a favour and call me a Social Justice Wizard instead? I like that character class better, and it gives me an excuse to get one of those Social Justice class pins.
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