What Does It Mean to Be a Gamer?
Growing up, I was always judged for having an interest in video games. I remember watching StarCraft on Korean television and my family always telling me to stop wasting my time. Calling myself a gamer would bring endless stigmas and stereotypes that were not even remotely accurate. To this day, when I want to relax and play video games, people will judge me, even though other forms of relaxation are acceptable or even encouraged.
An unfortunate culmination of stereotypes about gamers has been illustrated in mass media time and time again. The overweight loner who lives in his mom’s basement and eats hot pockets is the go-to image for major studios and networks. The exaggerated image turns gamers into addicts and enthusiasm into shame. But these stereotypes are just that: stereotypes. The label comes with a sense of inaccuracy and rightfully so. So what does it actually mean to be a gamer?
You have a thirst for competition.
Video games, just as any other type of game would, provides an outlet for competition. We, as humans, are naturally competitive and gaming is just one of many ways to fulfill our need for competition in the modern world. It can provide relief when you are itching to compete with others, or excitement when you want to prove your dominance.
You want an active social medium.
With the massive multiplayer worlds in modern gaming, it is only natural for gamers to socialize with other people from all over the world. As a social medium, gaming can introduce you to new people online, or new people offline through the shared interest. It provides a network without distance for friends to keep in touch. Communication and interaction is heavily woven into video games and provides an accessible and convenient social medium.
You appreciate the artistic value in both the visuals and the story of video games.
Sometimes you enjoy video games for the beauty of their settings, stories, and characters. Over the years virtual worlds have become more expansive, settings more distinct, and stories more touching. Gaming is gaining ground as an artistic medium because of its interactivity and explorative nature. One can connect with a video game the same way one connects with a movie. The connection goes beyond what is presented on the screen, since the player actively makes decisions as the game reacts.
You appreciate and desire progress and self-improvement.
For many enthusiasts, gaming is a source of accomplishment development. It is not just about becoming a better player. The social and artistic nature of gaming helps one grow as a person. The memories made, the stories told, the achievements and failures, all stick with the gamer. Having a passion for video games becomes a defining characteristic that should not be judged or shamed. I, as many others, cherish the games of my childhood that helped defined me, appreciate the games that matured me, and defend the legitimate value that gaming has.