The discussion of what it means to be a gamer has been in question for a long time! Typically, the community never really took that question seriously (depending on who you ask), and often neglected it in favor of more important matters. However, as we’ve entered a new era of gaming, one that has given birth to influencers, able and capable of changing the trajectory of the gaming space, it’s apparent now that the definition of gamer needs to change and be defined properly for these individuals!
I say this because, as of late, I have noticed an alarming amount of these so-called gaming influencers talking about games, yet it is later discovered that they either didn’t play the game or did not put in a sufficient amount of hours to qualify them for speaking upon it. Yes, watching YouTube videos of someone else playing it is not the same as you playing the game itself. You can get an idea of a game, but to fully articulate all of its qualities you’d need to play it as well.
This is a bigger problem than people realize as game studios and companies oftentimes reach out to these individuals for their insight and feedback. They view these people as a representative of their community and a bridge of contact. As such if we’re going to have people represent a community, they need to be gamers in their fullest meaning.
So what is a gamer? And how does one quantify it? To some, a gamer is anyone that plays games simply put. Whether it be a mobile game or console game, so long as you’ve played a game, you’re a gamer. To others, however, it’s more nuanced, requiring you to have played multiple games of different genres throughout time. It’s a subjective construct that changes depending on who you ask. So that’s why I’m focusing on people, especially that who have amassed a following within the gaming community. A regular person won’t have a level of impact as someone with a 10k following. Doing that will make it easier to have a concrete definition to adhere to.
So, before we go any further, allow me to tell you my definition of a gamer. For someone to be considered a gamer, a true authentic gamer, you’d need to be playing different games of different genres. You’d also need to possess a certain level of skill set in those genres too. Now, whenever people mention skills in a gaming conversation, most assume you gotta be a “god” in all these games. No, for me you just have to be reasonably skilled in the games that you play, to be able to talk about it. The skill gauge varies from game to game, but having a competent level of ability to play a game is a must.
Second, if you enjoy a game, one would expect you to complete it and a good number of games too, especially if you’re an influencer that talks about games as their hobby/job. This is even more true if you review games. You cannot claim to play 70% of a game and make the assumption that it is enough to review a game. It would never paint a full picture of the product and it is a disservice to the people who have worked on the game and depend on you to give a fair and extensive review. The third thing which may rub some people the wrong way is that you must play on more than one gaming console if you consider yourself a all-around gamer. I am aware of people you choose the represent one platform, but oftentimes, even these people have more than one console that they play on. Gaming has always been a luxury hobby and has never been cheap I understand but again as a reminder, I am talking about influencers who’ve taken their hobby to the next level, a regular person doesn’t have to worry about this.
Lastly, and quite frankly the most controversial one of all, you’ll need to be more open to sharing your gamer tag online, and can’t be hiding it if people what to verify that you’ve played a game. Given the current climate in the gaming space harboring frauds and fakes, the community has become more sensitive to this problem. This one is a tough pill to swallow as the gaming community can be quite toxic if you leave your message box open.
It’s also important to note that the definition of what it means to be a gamer affects the sexes differently! Women are often questioned harsher than Men, given the historical background of gaming, and how it began as primary a “boy’s game” until later on in the years. Due to this, when calling out women in the gaming space for not being real gamers, it’s often met with a massive pushback of accusations of it being sexist or misogyny. Sometimes, that’s true and we get men who simply don’t like women being in the gaming space or want them to be hot and nothing else, however, there are times where the callout has been justified and proven to be true. Nevertheless, if gaming is to be a neutral space for all, everyone is open to criticism regardless of gender, or even race.
This then brings up the discussion of gatekeeping people in the gaming space, ensuring only does that the community has fact-checked can speak on their behalf. The idea of gatekeeping is not one that most people are a fan of. GamerGate was a big deal back in the day, so invoking gatekeeping ideas tends to bring up bad memories. However, I still believe that some form of gatekeeping needs to be adhered to ensure a healthy community. Otherwise, you may have the wrong people leading the community in a different, unfavorable direction, such as the sudden interest to make most games way easier and less challenging than how they used to be in the past.
To wrap this up, what it means to be a gamer changes all the time for the regular person and it’s that important to define for them, but I believe it’s time to have a more concrete definition for those who have risen to be the voice of the community.