Posted tagged ‘gamer identity’

I Had No Idea this Required a License

February 26, 2013

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Mostly out of lack of motivation. After all, I should be updating the paladin posts. They’re not going to fix themselves. But I got into a discussion with a friend on Facebook last night that inspired me to finish this.


So yeah, for months (or longer?) there’s been this talk of “fake gamers”. Pretty much exclusively “fake gamer” girls, because apparently being a “fake gamer” requires identifying to the female gender. Guys, it seems, do not qualify to be “fake gamers”, no matter how much their eyes glaze over when you bring them to riveting panels about fascinating games, or how lost they become during gaming nostalgia sharing sessions right after they JUST told you how much they love gaming.

Yep, no matter how much boys lie to you about their gaming habits to get into your pants (because, clearly, it is the only reason anyone lies about anything), only girls (sorry, pc people, when I write about gaming, it’s “guys” and “girls”, because “men” and “women” imply being all serious and not fun and I’m against being serious and not fun) can be “fake gamers”.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can address the next issue (and still ignore the main question).

Why do We Care if Someone is a “Fake Gamer”?

Ok. So. As far as I know, being a gamer does not require a license. I mean, maybe I’ve been living an illegal life all these years and am totally a fake gamer because I never applied for my gaming license. Hey, none of the blogs ever mention it and no one asks to see it when I pick up my tickets to conventions. Can’t blame me for not knowing.

Gaming, on it’s own, not gaming for charity which is something different, also does not feed starving children in Africa. It does not stop poverty. It doesn’t even save the whales. It might help a little bit with education, but only for the person playing, not for everyone else. So it’s not like a huge, meaningful achievement.

It doesn’t increase a person’s social status either. While I find social status kinda silly – why does anyone care if my job pays well, whether I’m following my biological obligations to get married and reproduce and if I have a lot of politician friends? – I guess it matters to some. But gaming does not make you more socially acceptable. It actually still sometimes even has the opposite effect.

So, why the hell, are people going around pretending to be, oh I dunno, gaming police or something?

Apparently there’s even this meme on Facebook going around comparing the “fake gamer” to a “what a gamer really looks like/does”.

I can’t say I’ve ever really seen this because I have certain, um, standards when it comes to Facebook friends. But there are a lot of people on the internet who worry about weird things (I worry about weird things too, but not so much whether someone has received permission to call themselves a gamer) so I can believe that there are some who are genuinely concerned about the…authenticity? of gamer status claims.

Think of it as I might, I cannot wrap my head on Why. Why do you care about the credentials the person sitting next you at ComicCon? You’re there to watch and listen to a famous person talk about their work. That’s not a goddamn competition.

And if that person next to you is only there to impress their significant other? What happens then?


Consequences on “fake person”: They’re bored and wasted their time and money.
Consequences to you: … Nothing, really.

So start worrying about your own fun, and less about everyone elses motivation.

It’s the Media, You Say, I’m Sick of Fake Sex Being Used to Lure Me In

Various (and possibly, most) major figures (I was going to say players but that would lead to confusion) in the gaming industry do have a habit of putting a scantily clad human model with body parts that are, um, voluptuous in some places, and, um, dainty in other places next to their product in order to increase sales. Habit that it annoying to, well, pretty much anyone with a soul.

Nobody knows much about these models because their humanity is drowned out by their obnoxious body parts. Understandably, it is frustrating to be served by a pair of disembodied boobs (note, that you’re not allowed to touch) instead of a helpful, knowledgeable sales expert. At least when it comes to making gaming choices.


On a side note, though, this reminds me of a complaint I have about Big Bang Theory. The characters on the show started off as pretty brilliant but eventually devolved to exactly the 2-dimensional idiots gaming companies think they are catering to. This is 2013, people. Gamers like sex like everyone else, but we still live with the times. We’re demanding in 2013. We have a shitton extra needs to go with our sex needs. The media would do well to evolve with us.

Differentiating Freelance Sexy Costumes from the Media

I read a complaint post (can’t remember where) about sexy costume wearers. They were getting labelled as “fake gamers” because apparently the ability to look fantastic in skimpy clothing cannot be acquired simultaneously to the ability to operate a controller, mouse or keyboard.

The whole post (and, really, the internet in general) leads me to believe that sexy costumes (and other revealing clothing) are misunderstood.

That young lady in spandex, the one not hired by a company at the convention, is not trying to sell you anything. The one at the booth is trying to sell you something. This one here isn’t.

The young lady is wearing spandex (or latex) for the same reason you have a ridiculously large SLR camera that you don’t even know how to use hanging around your neck. She’s got something valuable she worked hard for, is proud of and wants to show off. Just like you have something valuable you’ve likely worked hard for, are proud of and want to show off. She doesn’t want to sell you her body anymore than you want to sell anyone your SLR camera.

And if you want to be proud of your body, stop eating garbage and start moving. Then you too can wear a skimpy costume that makes people smile.

On the Other Side, Is Being Called Fake Supposed to Hurt?

There was a female gaming convention awhile back (there are gaming conventions for everything, really). They did this survey and an obscenely high % of respondents said they’d been called “fake gamers”.

This has never happened to me before, at least not to my face, so I really had to stop and imagine how I’d feel if that happened.

The only thing that came to mind was “very confused”.

On one hand, as this post suggests, I would be deeply concerned about your emotional health. It’s not healthy to feel so strongly enough about gamer title legibility that you play gaming police. What can I say? I’m a caring person.

On the other hand, I’d be a little “um…ok… *scratches head*” because, really, I’m not here to prove anything with my gaming. I play games because they’re fun. I go to conventions because I want to see, in person, the geniuses who brought my favorite stories to life. I go to meetups so I can hug with MY REAL ARMS the people I have to /hug and *hug* normally. I socialize within different gaming communities so I can get super excited about stuff I love and be responded to with equal excitement. You know, instead of the amused looks I get in my everyday life.

So I cannot grasp why being “real” or “fake”, and, especially, a stranger’s silly opinion of everyone else’s realness, matters. We all have our reasons for gaming or for revolving around the gaming community. As long as we’re not deliberately stomping on someone else’s fun, who cares?

And after all that, I still never touched the great encompassing question of: WHAT THE HELL IS A FAKE GAMER ANYWAY?

ps. If you enjoy this topic, I have reflected, though a tad more seriously, on the notion of gamer/geek identity in the past (part 1 and part 2).

Obtaining and Using the Title “Gamer”

July 24, 2012

I’ve been chewing on this post since the Calgary Expo back in April and hadn’t gotten around to writing it down because…um… was April really over 3 months ago? Time just goes by so fast. Feels like the Expo was yesterday.

There’s something I’ve observed a lot in my time hanging around other gamers: a certain behaviour. A behaviour you see from gamers, from game-related marketers, and, shamefully, occasionally from myself. Maybe a tad more than occasionally, even.

The notion of what makes someone A Gamer.

Does this make me A Gamer?

Who is allowed to call themselves A Gamer?

My mother thinks video games make you stupid and lazy. But she plays an embarrassing amount of Mahjong on the computer. Is she A Gamer in spite of herself?

What about those who play Farmville, and only Farmville? Are they Gamers? They are playing a game! What if they were playing Farmville, and only Farmville, for several hours every day? Would that make them more of A Gamer?

Or perhaps being A Gamer has more to do with your past than your present. Can you be A Gamer if your parents didn’t allow you to spend time in front of a screen as a child? Can you still be A Gamer if your first game was World of Warcraft? Or what if it was even more recent? What if the very first game you played was SWTOR? Can you still call yourself A Gamer?

Maybe video gaming doesn’t cut it either. Maybe you need to play at least two TYPES of games. Can you be A Gamer if the only kind of game you play is screen-based? Or do you need to be playing video games and, say, Magic, to earn the Gamer title?

A Theory on Gaming Elitism

The notion of “elitism“, as we call it on the internet, isn’t unique to gaming.

Back when I did a lot of freestyle downhill skiing, the “I’m more of a skiier because my skis/goggles/edges are better than yours!” or “I skied out West so I’m better than you!” attitudes turned me off hanging out with other skiers. I’ve seen similar attitudes in the outdoorsmanship community too. My parents even have a friend who’s elitist about football fandom. According to him, you’re not truly football fan-ing if you’re not watching the game a certain way, with certain foods, in certain places.

So what’s up with the weird attitudes?

Well, in the skiing world, when you’re part of organized competition, you’ve got medals, awards and race histories to brag about. Success is measured and the hierarchy is easy to establish. Those of us who weren’t classified by external forces (no matter how much I begged my mother, she refused to spend tons of money to become my personal chauffeur, so competitive skiing was a no-go for me… to this day that feud still stirs up hard feelings) had to find different ways to prove ourselves. Those ways became knowledge of brands, became the level of gear we were willing to pay for, became the ski centers we frequented, became which teaching/coaching certifications we aimed for.

I suspect gaming is kind of the same. Gaming is a vast, vast world, and it’s only getting broader. Game genres like MMOs, iPhone/Android, Rock Band/Dance Central, and Facebook reach out to previously untapped markets. Certain sub-communities have official competitions – think Starcraft or Magic the Gathering – but for the most part, there’s no way to compare gamers in a hierarchical format. So each Gamer makes up their own criteria for “good gaming”, involving games played, time spent playing each game, in game achievements, gaming history and so on.

Since those criteria are totally arbitrary, one person’s criteria unavoidably clashes with someone else’s criteria, lighting up the flames of hate discussion all across the interwebs.

What makes the Gamer title even more arbitrary is how easy it is to lie. While modern games tend to track and advertise your every move to the world, your profile can’t determine whether you were carried in an MMO raid, can’t speculate how often you cheated at a puzzle game (as a huge fan of puzzle games, it often saddens me that puzzle gamers get little respect because, while puzzle games require a lot of skill to play properly, they are the easiest games to cheat at), can’t tell if your best friend ran you through all the hard levels, and can’t measure the degree to which you enjoyed your gaming experience.

“Gaining respect as A Gamer”

One of the posts within the past year that I found most thought provoking was Lynesta’s explanation of why she choose to compete in Maxim’s Pose In a Ridiculous Outfit with a Controller (that’s what the competition was, right?).

As much as I mock the contest (it’s all in good nature – I even considered entering, not because I gave a damn about winning, but because I had access to a good photographer and it pleases me to receive complements on my figure), I loved her post. She wrote from the perspective of a marketer of game paraphernalia, who works in a style of marketing where the salesperson is chosen exclusively based on their sex appeal toward a select market (horny young and creepy old straight men). Everyone assumes that actual knowledge of the product is irrelevant in that style of marketing, which, I can imagine, causes a lot of frustration to the marketer who has both the sex appeal and extensive, first hand knowledge of the product.

Her post made me think of how I like to be perceived as A Gamer. My career has nothing to do with gaming and I make no money off the blog, so any “respect” I receive as A Gamer is purely for my personal self-esteem. I thought about it, and thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that I game because I enjoy gaming. At some points in my life, I may have gamed more in order to make or keep friends or to attract admiration, but these days I play for me and only for me. If I make friends along the way, all the better, but I’ve no interest in proving anything to anybody.

I can remember a time where I thought “I’m a special snowflake! I’m an athletic chick who plays video games! I must announce this to the world!“. Even though my first gaming community (nearly 15 years ago!) was about 50/50 gender-wise and our membership included acrobats, dance instructors and bodybuilders who must have rolled their eyes at me more than once.

I like to think I’ve gotten over caring about the arbitrary gaming hierarchy, yet, sometimes I do feel a little pride when my guild, a fantastic 25s 2 nights/7 hours total a week guild, kills progression bosses faster than guilds who raid twice as much as we do. Maybe I secretly think “na-na-na-nah” to competing guild. Or when I’m guesting on a podcast and we get to the question “how did you get started as a gamer?“, I feel like I’m submitting my Gamer resume, instead of just throwing a bone to fellow old school Sierra fans who’d like a friend to geek out about King’s Quest with.

For the most part, though, for me, acceptance within the gaming community happened without me making a conscious effect. Actually, I believe that if you have to work at being accepted as A Gamer, you might not be hanging with the right sub-community. When I meet other Gamers, either at conventions or through the internet, I talk when I have something to say. When I don’t, I listen and learn. It’s simple and my gaming resume, age, gender, boob size, difficulty speaking and/or social awkwardness don’t seem to matter at all compared to the impact of how much I enjoy gaming, talking about gaming and learning about gaming.

When I walk away from an interaction with fellow Gamers, I want to think “That was so much fun!” not, “I hope I impressed them.

Conclusion “I’m more of A Gamer than you”: All Bad, or Friendly Competition?

So, what, to you, makes someone A Gamer? And, more importantly, does it matter?

I certainly believe that a little competition adds spice. There is a lot of fun to be found in playing on your own for yourself, but, as humans, we’ve got social urges too, and the pleasure of winning against other humans feel really, really good inside.

But when discussions turn bitter and someone is denied the right to talk about character leveling in World of Warcraft because they don’t do heroic raids (because character leveling has SO MUCH to with competitive raiding), or game writers receiving extreme harassment because they suggest skippable combat in games, then the whole concept of Real Gamer just makes me sick to my stomach.

As for gaining respect as A Gamer, especially for my fellow girls who, like I did years ago, feel the need to use the term “gamer girl” to define themselves, the advice I have is this:

Forget about the gaming hierarchy and play. Play with all your heart, love what you play and let the rest happen. Passion is ageless, genderless, apparent, contagious and magnetic. Gaming passion just as much.