Game Hobbyist

I tend to prefer game enthusiast because it‘s more direct about the level and quality of one’s engagement with video games, although on reflection, I realize my labeling myself as such is only possible because of my interest in obscure, older games. The word “enthusiast” implies an interest in the object itself - its construction, its historicity - and retro game communities tend to easily meet that requirement. “Gamer”, by contrast, is much more performative and transactional: one is a gamer because of a constant need to prove one‘s worth as such, whether by buying the latest shit, playing a game to the fullest extent (experiencing the most content within it), or completing that game on the most challenging terms available. There’s little real interest in the game for its own right, so “enthusiast” wouldn't make sense in that context. Then again, I may be applying broad stereotypes to a community I (as well as the rest of us) have distanced ourselves from long ago.


@exodus#4873 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 think there's already a term for reader/bookhead: bookie. I say "I think" because I don't know for certain whether this is actually a thing.

I knew this discussion sounded familiar. It's the first topic of this episode:



A wise, slightly older youth once told me in my own youth that the difference between a “Gamer” and “someone who plays video games” is that a Gamer spends all of his non-video game playing time talking, writing, and reading about video game related topics.

I am in a weird spot where I feel most comfortable in a forum like this with a bunch of people who like weird old games, even though I wouldn‘t consider games one of my primary hobbies. I have that same “so you play fortnight?” problem that @exodus described, because I know a lot about games mostly through listening to podcasts as a teen (and Insert Credit now), but I don’t actually follow games culture at all anymore, so I don't know anything about the big games. At the same time, I am casual in that I only play three or four games a year; it just so happens that these games are often somewhat obscure because my taste tends towards small, weird things.

I have had really awkward conversations with people about games before where I don't know how into games they are (or in what way they are into games), so I (kind of accidentally) pretend that I know nothing about games, or that I've only played one or two, and then eventually the conversation becomes really weird because I don't know how to keep up my ruse but I also don't know how to actually have a conversation about games. This, however, is most likely only a problem because I am an idiot!

I have a similar problem with movies because I am absolutely mad about the movies I love, but I don't know anything about movies in general, and I find most of the films I watch by just randomly clicking around the Criterion Channel (big thanks to tim rogers for that rec).

Yeah, the dance around “how much do either of know about this” can get weird, and to some extent, at least for me, is rooted in an old (from my youth) elitism surrounding my games knowledge, as someone who grew up with nobody as interested in games as I was. I think that's part of where the whole “gamer” thing comes from, but you can come out the other end wanting to share more with people or wanting to wall yourself off and be a jerk, which is where we see that divergence.

But it's hard to lose the "I'm different, I like weird games!" thing, and I'm still kind of in there especially in those social environments.

I remember an unfortunate but odd interaction after a show in Korea, where my friend introduced me to a member of one of the american bands playing as someone who "knows everything about video games" which is just about the worst way to be introduced! The guy was immediately like "so do you know how to defeat king hippo in punch out?"

and I said, well, I don't really play nintendo stuff...

and he said - but do you?

and I said of course, you have to get him to raise his hands then hit him in the stomach.
So that felt weird!

Then another band member was like "oh, maybe you can tell me this game I forgot from my childhood, my dad got me a 3DO for some reason, if you know what that is, and there was this game where you were a lumpy blonde guy" and I was like "oh, captain quazar" to which she squealed with glee because that was of course the answer.

This was an odd interaction because I'd just seen these folks perform a rock show in Seoul and they were grilling me with their game questions and I was getting all the answers right, which to a certain extent felt good, but it also felt like I was a curiosity in a zoo!? I was just there to see a show with my pal!

I guess it's better than being talked to about fortnight or minecraft and having no idea what's going on??