What should it mean to be a gamer?

All too often, the word “gamer” seems to describe a personality in its entirety. One’s gaming identity is somehow divorced from all the other aspects of one’s personality. Adam Ruch at Kotaku AU fights against this assumption.

By being a gamer, I do not stop being a man, a university lecturer, a mediocre sports fan, an American, an immigrant, a husband, a son, a musician. I am not a one-dimensional creature that is composed entirely of, and sustained by, video games. I am not defined by gaming and only gaming.

No one who plays and enjoys video games is required to ignore every (or any) other aspect of what makes up their identity, in order to be considered a gamer. People do not work that way. Culture does not work that way.

There are no neutral video games, or experiences of video games. No one stops being who they are as they play a game. So, everything that happens in the game, and everything said about the game, is always already being filtered through whatever lenses the player brings with them wherever they go.

It’s obvious that we don’t transform into were-gamers at the sight of a full screen, but perhaps playing a game instigates a more subtle change with how we interact with the world. Playing a game doesn’t mean suspending your real-life identity, unless you want to. Let’s keep using the word gamer, but make it inclusive of everyone who plays games. That way “gamer culture” could be defined by the large mass of people who already play games, not some dedicated minority.