For many years now, myself and many others have inherited the label or tag as a gamer. With that label comes stereotypes, not unlike other stereotypes conjured up by those in the media or those too ignorant to look outside once in a while.
I’m not saying its a bad thing, but bad things come from stereotyping and more often than not people’s first impression of someone under the label of a stereotype can often paint a picture for them, prior to getting to know that person as an individual.
We don’t see this type of generic labelling in our other forms of media either, which makes it all the more puzzling. We don’t call people who watch movies a ‘mover’ or ‘filmer’ nor do we call people who read books ‘bookers’. Of course, these mediums have experts who have titles such as ‘book worm’ or ‘movie buff’. We don’t have an elitist title for gamers and the label goes to anyone who owns a console or has a game they play on a regular basis on PC or even mobile platforms.
The trope that associates itself with the label of gamer usually references a middle-aged, white male, living with their parents, never leaving the house using all their time and energy on a particular game. Now, we know that this isn’t the case for most of us. For example, I don’t get access to a whole heap of AAA titles due to high demand, so I work a full-time job alongside all the stuff I do for The Nerd Stash. A lot of the guys I play games with regularly all work too and most of them have better social lives than myself. But does that mean they aren’t gamers because they don’t live up to the stereotype?
Let me take it a step further. The stereotype implies that white men are the archetype for this trope. What about black guys? What about women? I know a great lady who streams Minecraft almost daily, does she not meet the term gamer because of her sex? Is my black friend not a gamer because of the color of his skin? Of course not. But these examples serve to break down the ignorant stereotype that surrounds our community.
Another side is, unfortunately, a result from a small minority of gamers. The people with a microphone who feel the only way to get attention is to insult people, be as loud as possible and just annoy those unlucky enough to be around them. I know that in the heat of the moment, I can be loud, I can rub people the wrong way, but I don’t go out of my way to tear people down.
I feel I’m getting off topic slightly as my coffee goes cold, but the small minority of gamers that are essentially attention seeking children, grown up should be dealt with separately. The best thing to do with these people is to ignore them. If you don’t react, they have no fuel to burn the fire, get bored and leave. These sort of people give gamers a bad name when they are essentially cyberbullying other players. It’s up to us as gamers to stand together against this kind of behavior and make our community one that people want to be associated with.
Embrace the label, it doesn’t define you, but it’s a special club that you belong to, you have a connection with other people as a result and more importantly, you have experiences to share. I remember being able to talk about games with my friends, sharing tips with each other, discussing what we thought Ganon would look like in Zelda, how to use the red crystal in Castlevania 2 and how to find the technodrome in teenage mutant ninja turtles.
In my personal experience, gaming was once considered something that nerds did and it wasn’t something you could admit to doing, but after years of being bullied, gaming is something nearly everyone does. I’m in no way saying that my personal experiences were responsible for gaming becoming a cool thing to talk with friends about, but many of you out there will know what it was like once to either embrace who you are or hide what you are from the world. I say go out there and be who you are. Don’t hide it from the world, enjoy it. If people don’t get it, that’s fine, we’re making progress. We’ve already started breaking down those barriers that used to be associated with gaming. We’re no longer the basement dwelling weaklings that litter mainstream television and even celebrities talk about playing the latest games.
Be proud, be a gamer.