writing > play > gamers and you
Last Updated: May 2016
6 minute read

gamers and you

Gamers and You

cross-posted: on Medium

– how to intro? “im a gamer. gaming has come a long way in being an accepted hobby, yet there are some rifts that exist between gamers and those close to them.” – what’s the point of this piece? “help bridge those rifts, specific circumstances that are unnatural” – social obligations – team and competitive matches – withdrawal

Most likely you are close to at least one Gamer. Probably several. Or of course, you are one of us.

This is an extremely important topic to me, something I’ve tried to figure out how to describe in several ways over the years.

It means a lot to me and many like me that you are taking the time to read this.

Meet The Gamer

To have this conversation, allow me to quickly introduce the Gamer [1]. There’s a difference between a Gamer and someone who plays games.

You could play no games other than Minecraft and be a Gamer.
You could play hours of Call of Duty or Halo and be someone who plays games, but not a Gamer.
You could beat a Gamer at his favorite game on your first try, and you may not even be someone who plays games, let alone a Gamer.

This difference is NOT a question of how much they play games, or about what kinds of games, and least of all about how good they are at games.

The real difference is one of identity. It’s about gaming being a part of who they are, not just a pastime or a temporary hobby. If and when it goes away for good, they become a significantly different person. Think about that Runner or Bookworm friend you have – they may do “it” all the time, or just whenever they can. They feel good about the time, effort and money they spend on it, and never regret it. They love to talk about it. For the most part, they appreciate being known by that identity. There exist other people who enjoy the same activities, spend more time doing them or be better than them, but they may not identify with it. That difference in relationship with the activity is the difference between the Runner and the person who runs regularly. The Bookworm, the Programmer, the Beer Connoisseur, all have similar counterparts with that difference.

Being a Gamer certainly doesn’t preclude me also strongly identifying as an Entrepreneur, or Anime-nerd, or whatever. Gamer is an important part of who we are, but not all of it.

For this conversation, I will refer to video games as the primary activity of the Gamer. There is large overlap with the Boardgamer (which I also am), Table-topper and other identities, but that’s out of the scope of this post to address explicitly. This will be pretty long-winded as is.

Are We Misunderstood?

I wish I could say “no longer,” but while it’s way less misunderstood than 20 years ago we still have a ways to go. Luckily we have friends like you who at least care enough to read a piece like this and move us along.

Rather than ‘Non-gamer’, I prefer to call people who have had little exposure to games and gaming ‘Real-lifers’. While gamers do still treat the virtual world as transient campared to real life, it still holds significant value to them while they’re immersed in it. To the real-lifers, the occurrences of the virtual world are more or less wholly dismissable. As a result, real-lifers struggle to place the habits and feelings of a gamer within their existing frameworks of human behaviour. So far in the history of gaming, real-lifers have vastly outnumbered gamers, and haven’t had to stop to think why we do things the way we do. To this day, gaming gets condemned as an addiction, as a primary cause for random acts of criminal violence, and constantly faces laws worldwide attempting to ban them from market.

But it’s changing fast.

Gaming is Young

Gaming is a new thing.

The Runner and Bookworm have had their hobbies up for the public to scrutinize, demonize, admire and get used to as a harmless thing over several decades if not centuries. There was a time when people who read too diversely were considered to be working with the devil. Books would be banned or burned, authors executed, readers punished by law for proliferating the “wrong books”.

Gaming is something that didn’t really exist 30 years ago but is now more than just a global pastime. Its significance in our world is growing rapidly.

In 2010 the infant game industry eclipsed the centuries-old film box office in gross revenue.

In 2015, just a typical growth year for gaming versus the best year the box office has seen in a long time, the former had triple the revenue. [1]

Gaming has inspired an entire generation of software developers and electrical engineers.

It has driven proliferation of the internet, the greatest technological advancement of our generation, alongside computing technology in general.

It was the most significant catalyst responsible for the mass adoption of personal consumer computing, the largest lifestyle change since the automobile.

It is (was?) also widely blamed for the death of reading, dismantling relationships, academic self-destruction, decline of social interaction among youth, violent crimes, and a host of other negative societal effects. Cyber-crime was incubated in the gaming ecosystem.

I can hardly imagine how much more relevant gaming is to the newer generation. Their parents have all lived around it, understand it better, or at the very least feel less apprehensive about gaming than ours did. And yet we all have much to learn about it, how to deal with it, and what to think of those that are an entrenched part of it.


Multiplayer: The Social Responsibility of the Gamer

This is one of the facets of gaming that I see most often go unnoticed by those around them

– activities -> friendships – friendships and distance - frozen without activities – esports and friendships – those around gamers – competitive team/vs game matches - social liability

Usually my writing targets core gamers interested in discussing a nuanced facet of game impact or design. This post, however, is probably more for those who do not identify as gamers, but have one in their lives – whether a sibling, significant other, child or friend.

gamers and non-gamers, how games affect their lives. the next generation - online games will be like playing a regular sport today. Would you stop your significant other in the middle of a tennis game, even if it was a casual pickup game, in order to go out to dinner, even though waiting for his game to end would mean you’d be 10 minutes late? In fact, the closer and more intense the game is, the less likely you are to force them to stop.

The last quarter-decade has seen as much technological advancement as the hundred or so years prior. in the way distances, frequency and activities over which people interact than any other period in history.


[1] Games Revenue estimate 2015 vs Box office 2015. My apologies as finding this data is difficult and there are lots of details to it, but this is fairly representative of the trends nonetheless. [2] Further reading: Who are Gamers.