Been thinking about language a bit, how groups define terms, unspoken norms, etc. As a relative newcomer to IC, I became curious about the nature of the term “gamer” or “gamers” within this community. There have been some uses of the term on the podcast and in the forum that make me feel that it hits upon a certain (negative?) response when people hear it, and it is used by the community in specific instances.

My goal is to better understand how that term 'comes across' to people within the community, when people use it, and to perhaps initiate some useful dialogue about the meaning the term holds within this community. Since any community is a collection of individuals, I was thinking it might be most productive to speak just to our own perspectives, and see where different people stand. I know this is potentially a discussion with very differing perspectives, so I encourage any responder to speak primarily to their own experience, rather than stating agreement/disagreement with other responses.

Thinking prompts:

  • 1.

    What does the label “gamer” bring to mind when you hear/read someone us it to describe a person?

  • 2.

    What does the group term "gamers" bring to mind, and how does it make you feel?

  • 3.

    When and how do **you** use the word gamer/gamers to describe others? Do you describe yourself as a gamer, or do you use a different term?

  • (I have some fear about posting this and coming across poorly, but it somehow felt important.)

    I could write out an elaborate post about the semantic shifts the word has undergone as a result of larger cultural trends, but as I‘m not in the mood to do so, I’ll let this joke do the talking for me:

    [img src="https://frinkiac.com/meme/S09E09/685650.jpg?b64lines=VGhlcmUncyBnYW1lcnMuLi4="]

    [img src="https://frinkiac.com/meme/S09E09/689404.jpg?b64lines=Li4uYW5kIGdhbWVycy4="]


    @MDS-02#26600 What does the label “gamer” bring to mind when you hear/read someone us it to describe a person?

    For me, the use of that label almost always sounds like a pejorative in some way. It kind of cuts two ways in my mind - from 'outside' people not interested in games describing those who play games as this label (which somehow minimizes their personhood - "Oh they're just a _gamer_"), and also from 'inside' people to delineate some division between some higher and lower level of engagement with the medium ("I play games but I'm not a _gamer_"). Somehow both have some dismissive flavor to them.


    @MDS-02#26600 What does the group term “gamers” bring to mind, and how does it make you feel?

    I feel some level of guilt / shame about the group term "gamers." When I try to think of examples of when the term is brought up, largely negative examples come to mind. A similar in/out group thing happens with this term, but it also carries this baggage of 'gamergate' and all the linked thoughts there. Then again there are things like AGDQ which bear the label, but the fact that they act as kind of "an example of gamers doing good," sort of re-entrenches the idea that the default conception of the group "gamers" is one that isn't good. As a person who plays games, I then feel the natural dissonance of "this label seems negative to me, but it probably would apply to me too."


    @MDS-02#26600 When and how do you use the word gamer/gamers to describe others? Do you describe yourself as a gamer, or do you use a different term?

    I think I probably use the term more often than not in a context where I'm meaning to label someone as distant from myself. I think I sometimes use it to mean "someone who has limited control over their engagement with games," or sometimes I use it in a joking way to signal to someone that I understand that the label is generally negative "Oh so you're a big _gamer_?" Tonally I'm meaning to imply that I *get* that the label isn't great, and that it's safe to talk with me about games.

    I don't really use that label for myself. I say that I am interested in games, that I like playing games, or collecting games. It somehow emphasizes the choice involved? Or makes me feel like its more of a choice? I'm not totally sure.

    @MDS-02#26600 don‘t be afraid, it’s a good post.

    to me, the word gamer is a demographic created by marketers to sell crap. when video games first came into existence, they weren't for any particular age group or gender, they were a novelty, like film was at first. but what has supressed videogames from flowering, the way film did, and becoming something having something, somewhere, for everyone is the decision to aim video games at boys of a certain age range, manipulating their sense of identity, and making more whales out of them than you would have otherwise, while consolidating the market into fewer, larger players.

    to me, there is only gamer as in mtn dew gamer fuel. the only other way i can think to use it is to express contempt, so i have no use for it at all.

    I usually make the distinction by saying “capital-G Gamers” when I am talking about the stereotypical toxic game-likers. The OP highlights why my gut has been telling me the distinction is important - because the stereotype is slowly dying out, thank goodness. I put this down to gamergate splitting off a lot of the most toxic elements into overtly right wing grouplets and separating their voices a bit from mainstream gaming discourse.

    I think it's like a lot of labels: some folks get hung-up on it and bad things happen as a result.

    I really like video games, but to me "gamer" at least a little bit gives me gamergate flashbacks. I'm okay with using it in a more narrow context though: like, I'm comfortable saying I'm a rhythm-gamer and a retro-gamer. But just plain "gamer" has connotations I don't especially like.
    Similarly, I watch a lot of movies and my undergrad degree is in cinema, but I'll never call myself a "movie buff" because that has connotations I'm not wild about. In my brain, a movie buff is the kind of person who watches a lot of movies but has really pedestrian taste and doesn't want to look deeply into the media they consume. Like the kind of person who will insist loudly that the 1984 Ghostbusters is the greatest movie of all time but doesn't have much reasoning beyond "it's funny." There's a part of me that would like to call myself a cineaste but then nobody would know what I even mean by that, so I just say I'm someone who has seen a lot of movies.

    I feel like "people who play video games" works better than "gamer" for the most part anyway, though I admit it's a mouthful.

    I was self conscious of being called the term gamer from an early age, always hated it. Had a guy from Saudi Arabia in my van this week, and when I said I hate gamer culture he essentially asked me the time old question of “what the hell is wrong with video games”, and we :100:unanimously agreed it was the appeal to the lowest common denominator.


    @MDS-02#26600 What does the label “gamer” bring to mind when you hear/read someone us it to describe a person?


    What does the group term “gamers” bring to mind, and how does it make you feel?

    I think my answer to these two questions overlaps quite a bit, so, I will say that I mostly have extremely negative associations, at least, as far as there being a difference between saying Gamer or Gamers, as opposed to when someone is just describing someone who plays games.

    As bizarre as it sounds to say now, Gamergate was a defining moment in a swelling of public identification of a certain age demographic of modern netbound English speakers (if not other global communities, I'm sure there are others, but that's what I know about for sure) with far right ideology. I don't think it was (or is) fashionable to be openly far right, but I think it's hard to deny that there were (and are) a relatively dedicated subculture of very loud people who identified with two main things, playing videogames, and openly espousing fascist ideology. Even more frustrating, from my perspective, scant little was done (or is being done) to really actually deal with this issue in a proactive manner. It's like we have sent the canaries into the mine shafts, none of which returned, and upon asking for help, the only support we seem to get is more canaries. Well, that's liberalism for you.

    So, for better or worse, yes, I think that's more what a Gamer is, than anything, for better or worse (let's be real, mostly worse).

    I think it also kind of speaks to a starvation for some sort of community or shared cultural experience or sense of belonging and history. Culturally, socially, mayhaps even spiritually if that has any meaning to you, a lot of the English speaking world is in a state one could say is totally emaciated. It's certainly not shocking that no small amount of people would try and construct an identity around a commodity based hobby, especially one as stimulating and exciting (as well as manipulative and exploitative from a commodity perspective) as videogames. On one hand I can sympathize with wanting something you're so bereft of, but on the other, I dunno. It's weird and I've never identified with it even as much as I have loved playing videogames and talking about videogames for going on 30 years now.


    When and how do you use the word gamer/gamers to describe others? Do you describe yourself as a gamer, or do you use a different term?

    Mostly when positively **_dripping_** with irony.

    I think it's funny to call people gamers when they most certainly are not gamers, even if I don't actually do that, I just make jokes about it. As in:


    Me, barging into the packed courthouse, as the news cameras swivel toward me: Where the gamers at

    I like to tell my partner that they're a gamer simply because they have played a videogame before. For no reason. It doesn't even bother them like in a teasing way. I just think it's funny. You got to amuse yourself, in life. I call my dogs gamers. I very often say that my one dog is a gamer girl.

    But also, with friends who I know play games or who I have played games with, we will call each other "gamer."

    At first it was mostly ironically, sorta like, ha ha he he, we're saying "gamer" but we're not like those other gamers. Then it sort of became like a proxy for "friend," just like, what the fuck is up gamer?

    Eventually at some point I got kind of tired of the whole self deprecating nihilistic ironic detachment on the internet, and so eventually, I started to sort of subvert the meaning of what a gamer was, at least just as I was letting my cool brain leak out all of the fun thoughts I have out on to the internet, so, at least around me and my friends.

    So I would say things like, I dunno,


    (I have some fear about posting this and coming across poorly, but it somehow felt important.)

    Don't worry, we're true gamers here, we support and uplift each other, that's what real gamers do

    This is more for my own personal amusement, even if I mean it totally sincerely. But, you know.

    I think anyone with a modicum of interest in videogame subculture since widespread availability of the internet would associate the term with its toxic elements. The only time I ever see it being used are as a pejorative for people that base their entire identity on videogames or in response to someone gatekeeping the term, and frankly in my opinion they're welcome to it.

    Sometimes, for the most pragmatic examples, yes, I'll admit to being a gamer, I.E., someone who does play video games as a facet of my lifestyle and a hobby. Like someone who balls is a baller.

    This is a complex term. I believe that the term gamer and the term film buff aren‘t quite simlar to compare, although nowadays they have some similarities to it. Film buff culture started because of Cahiers and the french film critics spreading the word to label a certain kind of user who watched the reality that surrounded people as kind of being a movie or filmable. Gamer, as @pasquinelli said though, started as marketing and then gamergaters used that term to label themselves as the “true gamers”. I believe the difference between communities, though, can be analyzed more profoundly by the term preservation and how both communities have worked through it. I’ve seen not that much development here in the gaming community up until recently from part of the public outside of IC and some marginal spheres in the sense that I don‘t see that much broad-minded perspective in the film buff sphere as compared to gaming, and maybe it’s because of that, although I've seen part of the public rising up in that regard.

    The term is bad but rich in connotations, so it‘s very funny to use. Can’t remember the last time I heard anyone use it in earnest, though.


    @pasquinelli#26603 gamer is a demographic created by marketers to sell crap

    I think this is right and agree. It's another invention to trap people into a market-identity, just like "marvel fan" or "star wars fan" has become. The gamer thing was just an earlier and less refined example of this kind of effort. A more contemporary analogue could be streaming services like amazon and netflix spending huge $$$ to corral "cinema" into their domain of control via "prestige" films like nomadland or the irishman, or buying up traditional studio catalogues and burying them behind disney plus

    I understand if some people feel like the term can be reclaimed or redefined in some way because of some positive connections or experiences they've had under the gamer product rubric, but of course the term and concept just need to be destroyed as thoroughly as possible. I wonder if gamergate ultimately served to marginalize the gamer concept. Mainstream "gamer" media like ign, kotaku, giant bomb have seemed (after a painfully long learning process) to get the picture after gamergate threw all that in sharper relief

    Also everything is better if videogames are understood as part of media/art/culture and are in conversation with real human being culture stuff. I may have mentioned this elsewhere on the forum, and don't mean to be a big old snob but I get a bit frustrated when even the brighter and more well-intentioned youtube videogame essayists re-invent the wheel re a lit theory concept or line of argument. Just read a couple of books and watch some non nerd movies good grief. But again that could be another consequence of everyone being forced into the gamer baby side of the swimming pool

    The world has lost all meaning. There are “people who play video games,” and “game-huggers.” For all the time, energy, and money I pour into video games they‘re hardly what I would define myself by. I dunno, I’ve lived enough and done enough to know what I like in earnest. My personality doesn't come from liking games, but liking games suits my personality. If I had to defend my lifestyle to someone (which I feel no need to do at this point in my life) that is how I would explain it. I am a person who plays video games.

    I think all of us gamers can agree though that we should like share and subscribe to this thread so we can increase engagement


  • * PMs yeso * hey I see that you didn't like or share my post about engagement? Are you mad at me?
  • @robinhoodie#26679 in this world, those who hunt the “game-huggers” are called “gamerunners”

    My mental image of the “gamer” is still a young dude, a little overweight, playing deathmatches and drinking soda and wearing a big ol smile. Basically John Romero in the 90s. Surely that's an anachronism? The anti-gamer, the person who resents the gamer-shoe and anyone it fits, is a much more solid category in my brain. The anti-gamer takes games real seriously and wants to help other people take games as seriously as films or literature. The guy from Errant Signal is my mental prototype. So I guess I imagine that in the "gamer"sphere games are more closely aligned with junk food or comic books than with art. Gamers are the ones for whom games are (scrumptious?) trash. In that sense I feel like I personally have more kinship with the gamer than with the antigamer.

    I would never use the word in real life, though, because I cringe to hear anyone say "to game" when they mean "to play a game."

    At this point I‘m just repeating others’ opinions but it comes down to two things:

    1) the people who sell us things use the word, and invented the word, which as has been said means it's bad news
    2) I guess there are terms like "cinephile" and so on, but "gamer" both sounds more childish and is used in part by more childish people (not exclusively, of course), which means I don't like it

    petition to rename the literature thread "true readers only"