Game Hobbyist

As people on this forum know, “Gamers” have been over for decades. However, words are helpful to communicate general ideas.

I like using the term "Video Game Hobbyist" because it's broader, more inclusive, and recognizes that there are more than one way to engage with the hobby and its adjacencies.

Here are some ways that you can be a games hobbyist. Please note that these ideas are presented independently and specifically don't require any kind of dependence on any of the others. I randomized the order after writing them, so any hierarchy is intentionally accidental.

  • 12. - If you like making fan art or fan fiction based on video games
  • 8. - You contribute to emulation development
  • 7. - You enjoy contributing to video games forums - I've heard good things about [Insert Credit](
  • 14. - You have a group of friends that you play games with on a regular basis
  • 10. - You play games at some kind of competitive level
  • 13. - You enjoy traveling to games conventions
  • 6. - You read about games for fun
  • 15. - You play gatcha games while you're waiting for your meeting to get going
  • 11. - You're a cosplayer and create and/or wear costumes based on characters from games
  • 1. - If you play lots of games
  • 2. - If you collect games, but maybe don't play them
  • 5. - Are you a games historian or archivist or researcher in your free time?
  • 9. - You set up a bunch of emulators on a PC or develop dedicated devices to play emulated games
  • 3. - If you make your own games for your own enjoyment, but don't distribute them widely or at all
  • 4. - I don't know about you folks, but I listen to an awful lot of music from video games
  • 16. - You play words with your friends
  • How else can you engage with the hobby of games beyond being a "gamer"?

    Get this into your lexicon y'all!

    [“Game Hobbiest”,“Game Hobbyist”]

    Somewhere in the last 20 years hobbyist has become a dirty word because it means you are not either A.) making money from your interest, or B.) religiously devoted to your interest… God, ever thing has moved in this direction hasn't it? But yes, I like the use of the word hobby here.

    I think it‘s OK to have interests that you spend money on or are not profitable. I also think it’s ok if you are not defined by your adherence or convictions to said interests.

    Gamer has issues, yes. “Players” only works as a substitute in some situations. What I really wish he had better words for is the distinction between a “casual” and “”hardcore“” “gamer”.

    @Moon#4871 My point is that the distinction doesn‘t matter and I think is inherently divisive. For the record, I don’t think that you were trying to be divisive.

    Is the person going Whale in Clash of Clans and spending $500 a month more or less hardcore than the 16-year-old who has prestiged 3 times in Call of Duty, spends 30 hours a week playing the game, but that's the only game they bought in the last year?

    Hmm, I do find hobbyist a loaded term in a few ways, and I almost find it restrictive to need to define oneself by the hobby. Like, to whom is that information useful other than people who are already in the group? If you say you‘re a gamer (or a game hobbyist) to an older person, or just someone outside of that group, they’ll put you in a certain box.

    Then if you say it to someone who is inside that box, they may have certain other assumptions about you, and I'm not sure how useful it is as a descriptor unless it's by the old definition (I tinker around with games).

    I guess my question to you would be, what's the context for using this term, and what would its utility be? Like, I certainly fall into almost all of these categories here, but I can't say I'd want to use any term to describe myself to a third party. Like say I'm at a party with my girlfriend's friends (this is a hypothetical future in which parties are possible again), I'm not going to use any game-associated term to describe myself (other than my job) because it's kind of weird and self-othering. To make a very stupid analogy, I wouldn't even want to call myself a "reader" or a "bookhead" or some other thing, because while it might prompt the next question (oh what books have you read lately), it gets me right into a box I might never crawl out of. Now I'm the books guy about whom you don't need to know any additional things.

    I don't want to crap on the idea, but it strikes me as a different word for a similar thing, albeit with a larger and wider-ranging definition.

    I don't think I consider my game habits a hobby, which includes playing obscure titles and making my own games. Even though in most hobbies that is the thing you do, make and experience things! maybe I should recontexualize my habits.

    In the game industry there are terms for separate game audiences, and there is typically three categories. There's "Casual" which mostly play Match 3 or Hidden object games, There's "Midcore" which will play some of those games but also maybe a gacha or light rpg, and then there's "Core" or "Hardcore" gamer, which encompasses anyone who uses a game console. It's pretty narrow! There's a lot of activities that "hardcore" gamers do that encompass totally separate audiences. I think the idea of having a separate game hobbyist group would be good. Tim Rogers sometimes uses the term 'Game likers' which has a kind of an absurd sound to it but I think it fits.

    I suppose my intent wasn't to provide a different name for a box or different way to define oneself by your activities - but as @marlfuchs2 says, recontextualize the box itself. Part of my point is that the universe of how one interacts with and enjoys this kind of art is broader than how it is portrayed in media or even by ourselves. Maybe this is just completely self-evident to the IC forums audience.


    @marlfuchs2#4874 Tim Rogers sometimes uses the term ‘Game likers’ which has a kind of an absurd sound to it but I think it fits.

    Agree completely. Part of why I wrote this down was to consider a different way to describe this.


    @exodus#4873 I don’t want to crap on the idea, but it strikes me as a different word for a similar thing, albeit with a larger and wider-ranging definition.

    Don't think anyone is crapping on ideas here - I feel like we're all assuming good intent and maybe this wasn't as relevant as I though.


    @exodus#4873 Now I’m the books guy about whom you don’t need to know any additional things.

    "What do I do for fun? Oh, I ride my bike a lot and like playing video games."
    I'm dying for someone to ask me about my stupid cycling training program I've been doing the last month, and if someone at a party asked me for my opinion on Halo vs. Fortnite vs. Chrono Trigger, I'm probably going to be excited to talk about that too I guess. In terms of assumed identity, I have four kids (which absolutely impacts my identity in striking ways), but when I get together with other parents, I'd rather find someone to talk to about Chrono Trigger anyway.

    Actually the gamification of cycling is _super_ weird right now. Anyone know anything about Zwift?

    I prefer this term

    I get where you‘re coming from now! I think it probably is relevant for folks who have trouble coming to terms with the fact they enjoy games in the face of all the negative stigma that’s built up around it, and that was actually part of what insert credit was formed around, so I applaud any efforts to contradict that!

    For me the "ask at a party" thing is an odd one because a high degree of literacy is required on the other person's part for that conversation to be interesting to either of us, and it very rarely is there unless the event is game-specific. I've never known how to answer the question (for example) of "what kind of games" I make. What does that mean? Platform? Genre? Tone? Something else? What do they think that means? etc

    But I guess I have this with everything - if someone asked me what music I like, I'd say tons of things, then describe something I've been into lately, and they'll then smile and nod and move along, just like if I said what I was actually into in games. it's tough to have a longer-than-two-sentence conversation with a person about a topic like this if their interest in most things is cursory, which I guess is a totally different problem!

    A famous website once said “because Video Games, Motherfucker!”

    So, I am keen to introduce myself as a video game motherfucker.

    That said, I am also not the best at parties and first impressions.

    Now, for a more helpful comment: @exodus#4968 's point on literacy is very true, and I think the onus is partly on you to understand what the other party wants to know, needs to know and benefits to know from your answer in the context of your conversation. I have learned to predict this kind of question and memorize what to say in this kind of situation, depending on who asks / what is the social setting (because the "bad at first impressions"-ness above has been a real issue for me in the past).

    I guess this kind of conversation is also much smoother if you actually work in a field related (and associated) to video games, as then you most likely don't need an explanation why you are into video games. Like a DJ or Band member probably does not need to justify buying a lot of records and books about music.

    On the talk to someone at a party thing there's two things I have noticed (at least among parties with NYC weirdo people)

    Depending on the age of the group talking about games can be such a different experience. If the group is closer to 40 and above, talking about games carries a bunch of stigma. But if the group is closer to 30 and below, everyone has played and is still playing games. Its just something you do. Although again, I don't really meet younger people who aren't artsy types or who have access to luxury lifestyles.

    It has become easier to talk to non gamers about games in the last five or so years because you can talk about the themes of the games in as a metaphor for talking about something else. Like, trying to discuss how any hope for the future is being shackled by the decisions of the old order; the Souls series does this metaphorically, while say Night in the Woods is more direct in talking about this.

    Not that any of this means I would present myself first and foremost as a video games guy (meeting video game guys in the mid 2000's nearly caused me to give up on the medium entirely), also I am a cartoonist first and foremost. But that I feel we are approaching a point where games can become just another interest in casual conversation. That you might interject the line, "You know I was just playing a game where..." as easily as you might interject the line, "I just saw a movie where..." and it won't completely sink the conversation.

    I dunno, I have internally been using the phrase, "What we talk about when we talk about Dark Souls." a lot recently. I very much see that in both these comics and

    As pointed on the recent episode (and several old ones) these bizarre self-identifying interest labels are all pretty eye-rolling when it‘s outside your interest. Gamer, cinephile, audiophile, videophile, foodie, techie, vaper, beeroligist(?) etc. all seem snooty and pretty off-putting when presenting oneself. It’s also odd to use use it as an excuse or a justification like @chazumaru#4977 said. I get wanting to identify with others but play it cool, be fluid and let the topic come naturally through a balanced conversation - you‘re into more than a single thing and you don’t have to cling to a fabricated label. It can also be a dangerous way of thinking if you are getting frustrated and begin to look down on anyone who doesn't “get” you.

    yeah, I have to admit I have not figured out a good way to answer the “what kind of games” question, and wind up saying “I worked on a street fighter compilation, but I also have my own team” because people will vaguely understand what that means and it'll be a gauge of their actual interest level.

    Curiously I've found that, outside of artsy weirdo parties, older people are MORE interested in my work in games because they've never met anyone who does it. Younger people are often like cool cool so you play fortnight? And... I do not. and that's kind of the end of it.

    It's interesting how the increasing popularity of games as a phenomenon is pretty well limited to about 10 specific games - so I wind up being the person who's less literate in the conversation because while I've played literally more than a thousand games in my lifetime, I don't play overwatch/league/fortnight/minecraft/etc. And there are just scads of people out there for whom that game is almost their entire experience with games. They got into fortnight and like... that's it. They play that game and don't know many others, and their expansion of game universe comes from watching people on youtube talk about fortnight, not from playing other games.

    It's kind of a tangent, but it's an odd one, because while they're playing the most popular stuff in the world, they're also rather niche in that they don't appreciate the hobby (there's the word) on the whole, they just want to dive into this one aspect of it.

    I think most people who get really into Chess (or Go in some countries) don’t necessarily find any interest in exploring and comparing with other board games.

    Same for sports: although the US do push people to care about several sports that their city is socially involved with, in most areas of the world, people typically have one key sport they really deeply care about: soccer, cricket, rugby, horse racing etc.

    Whereas, past a certain age (teenage fangirls etc.), it would be strange for a person to only experience one specific musical act or one specific movie director; they would at least explore the genre they are associated to critically / the category in which they are catalogued commercially.

    So, this difference might scratch something specific about games as an activity.

    (The above might sound very stupid when I read it back tomorrow.)

    on the topic of bringing up games at parties and older people being interested in games, something funny happened to me recently. i was talking to my partner‘s father who works in independent film, and he knew me as “someone who plays games a lot” (self-described). he’s someone who generally tries to stay up-to-date on most art related things as time has gone on, so he had played a few random games like Resident Evil before. he kept telling me about how much he had wanted to get a PS4 just to play Death Stranding because he had heard so much about it, maybe bc of all of the movie stars involved in it? it reminded me a lot of the discussion on the What The Hell is Wrong With Videogames podcast where everyone was talking about the assumed knowledge that game designers assume players have that acts like a barrier to keep newer players out. i had to sit there and try to explain “yes, this game is interesting, but there is a LOT of menus, systems, and buttons to keep track to the point that even someone who plays games a lot, like me, has a very hard time just keeping track of everything.”

    it's hard to recommend games to people a lot of the time because of the inherent assumptions surrounding the Culture and Ideas of Games that they make about the players. it reminds me a lot of my Gender and Womens' Studies courses in college, where so much of every conversation is coded in academic jargon that is difficult to parse (even to people studying it a lot of the time!) that the professors were basically there just to be a translator to facilitate discussions. i think what people who are interested in games a lot of the time want when they ask about games is someone to do that work of decoding this language and explaining it to them. people *want* to know why dark souls is so appealing without having to what "i-frames" are and memorize animations. a lot of the time they just don't have the knowledge or time to experience it themselves. getting back on the main topic, i think having a set of terms to self describe as someone who plays games and may have some of this assumed player knowledge is helpful when talking to others, but for the most part i just try to avoid it. it does suck that a lot of useful descriptors carry so many negative connotations!

    that academia thing really irks me, and has for some time. there‘s this feeling that professors, grad students, and text books are gating knowledge behind a wall of impenetrable language in order to justify their existence. I don’t blame them, in a way, because they are constantly embattled, but the aim of educating people directly opposes the use of convoluted language.

    It's a classic american problem - I WANT to do good stuff, but I exist within a framework in which I have been told need to fight for my existence first, and so I must protect what is special about my practice and make it difficult to access. under this system only those with the privilege to understand what I'm talking about may succeed.

    it's ridiculous!

    @exodus#5003 yeah, it‘s really frustrating. i understand how jargon develops bc you end up talking about the same ideas so much, you need to develop a shorthand for it. this is especially funny because a lot of the newer writers in Gender and Womens’ Studies at the time (2010‘s) were basically calling to abolish academic hierarchy/supremacy and the gating of knowledge. thankfully in the GWS field, there were a lot of writers who made it a point to be approachable without sacrificing any of the meaning that they wanted to impart, which i’ve always carried with me and thought about in regard to stuff like games. there is a good middleground between “a sea of button prompts, menus, and stat trees” and “walking simulators/visual novels” for games to occupy, but a lot of AAA devs and “gamers” as a whole don't seem to agree!


    @chazumaru#4994 I think most people who get really into Chess (or Go in some countries) don’t necessarily find any interest in exploring and comparing with other board games.


    Same for sports: although the US do push people to care about several sports that their city is socially involved with, in most areas of the world, people typically have one key sport they really deeply care about: soccer, cricket, rugby, horse racing etc.

    This is a super cool point. I mostly play competitive games like fighting games or MOBAs. I play them by a certain definition of casual. I generally don't play AAA games. Nobody would say to a Portland Trailblazers fan that they don't like sports because they don't like the Oakland Raiders.