Who counts as a gamer?
If you’ve been on the internet at all in the past 15 years, then you’ll know about this topic of conversation, even if you’re only somewhat knowledgable of the gaming community.
Essentially, when anyone professes to like anything to do with gaming, share any tidbit of information they have gleaned about a game, or even worn a piece of clothing that has a gaming related motif, there is always that subsection that will first, before ever giving any credence to their opinions, question their credentials as a gamer.
So, to those people out there that do this, that incessantly quiz anyone showing an interest in gaming, make sure they have the exact same or greater knowledge of all things geek than you, and if they don’t, harass and belittle them until they go away, I have this to say.
You are amongst the worst people, and the exact type that is giving gamers, and gaming in general, a bad name. It creates a hostile, isolationist community in which only the chosen elite and their mates are allowed to partake, and sets an imaginary bar to enter what is essentially just a bloody hobby for people that enjoy a particular product.
Whilst everyone seems to be targeted by these people, there are two groups that get it the worst. The first is anyone younger than them, and the second is women.
Expanding on the first point, there are some particular boundaries that need to be set. In modern online games, such as Xbox or Fifa, kids don’t get this sort of bullying – in fact they are usually the ones doing it. These are the kids that everyone loves to point out as being disruptive and damaging for the community. So when a kid comes along that is interested in retro games, or more complex RPG’s – why is there a group that has to try and shut them out? There is always, on any YouTube video or Facebook group for these subjects, a kid looking for information on what is the best final fantasy to start with, or some NES games he might not have heard about. To which there is some neckbeard attacking them for not knowing what they are talking about, being too young, trying to be a hipster, or that they should just do their own research and leave the talking to the knowledgable.
It is just painful that a community for a hobby I hold so dear to my heart is often so poisonous, and I can’t ever see it waining. Despite the various liberal strides made over the past ten or so years towards LGBT people and gender inclusivity, the gaming community has often been untouched – and in my opinion that is due to these hostile protectionists.
Women though, get it the worst. When I was at University, I vividly remember a time in a pub when a girl was wearing a Pokemon hoodie – and a guy that just had to quiz her on all of her various knowledge, as if in order for her to like Pokemon, she had to be the biggest fan there was. It wasn’t even little stuff, they went straight for questioning various stat growth methods that most players of the series don’t really care for. She managed to deflect his questions – but I still always have that memory of the guy that thought it was his duty to police her representing a brand that he feels belong to him.
And that’s what this is really about. These people feel some sort of ownership over gaming – as if their dedication and loyalty to the hobby over the years has earned them a right to control who counts as a gamer and who doesn’t, as if everyone should have to input the same level of time that they have. Like they earned a degree in gaming, and all these others are just pretenders.
You don’t own gaming – you don’t have the right to question anyones credentials or knowledge when they just want to enjoy a product or wear a T-Shirt. But it’s not hopeless. If you are one of these people – make a change. I know I’ve been guilty of subconsciously doing it in the past, of subtly questioning someone claiming to like something I love and almost wanting to ‘win’ in the ‘who likes it best’ competition. But we can do better – every day is a new start.
This article was purely an opinion piece about some of the things I’ve observed over the years. It wasn’t an academic study, and I have no proof or evidence of any of the things I have said – so make up your own minds on whether or not you agree with me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter, if you’ve ever experienced this question, or perhaps even been a part of it. Let me know if the comments below.