In today’s society, there is a tendency to label and find a specific corner of the world to belong to. You’re a health nut if you go to the gym and all your friends have to be one of those gym people. If you like books, well everyone you know and will ever get along with will be readers. The larger label of nerd and more specifically gamers, fall into this trap of labeling themselves based off what they like. But there more than meets the eyes.
We start to isolate ourselves because of that label given to us. We can only do certain activities with people who also partake and associate themselves with that label. What it does is it limits our ability to experience new things, make new friends, and grow as an individual. We need to remove those labels by forcing tough and uncomfortable conversations with strangers about a subject that you may know nothing about. It is frightening and exciting all at the same time. Imagine Dark Souls but real life. But the possibilities of finding a commonality and making a relationship out of that is so beneficial to your life.
What if you have that conversation with someone that doesn’t look like a gamer? But what really constitutes someone to receive the gamer title? What does a gamer look like?
With the rise of mobile games, casual, and indie; exponentially the number of people participating in the gaming culture has risen. How many hours of angry birds does it take someone to be considered a gamer? Would you deny someone being a gamer because they play Minecraft casually with their kid as a means of spending time? What if that parent could then learn about the medium and then be engulfed by the culture?
So do we, as gamers, decide to get rid of labels and open our arms to embrace those parents? Those same parents and society that have looked down on what we decide to invest our time into for so long? These are questions to ask because it means that we wouldn’t be seen as special, no longer recognized as early adopters and we would soon be treated like everyone else. The market is shifting to appeal to larger audiences but the industry is still holding back to give back to early adopters. If we decide to embrace the casual gamers then developers can put more attention and energy into an element of the market to be flawless. Look at Nintendo, the early days when they were producing classic after classic simply because they had one demographic, everyone. The original Mario and Zelda can be enjoyed to this day as gems of history and stand-up new releases. Modern Nintendo produces hit or miss games because they don’t have a clear audience. They try to focus on one group and are paranoid that focusing on hardcore gamers will alienate casual gamers and vise-versa.
What would happen if Nintendo just made games focusing on that demographic that enjoyed games as an activity? No casual, no hardcore, no geek, no nerd, etc. The larger population would be getting better games because they are able to create an experience that they want and people will simply experience. Indie games and games that become classics are successful because they appeal to enjoyment and offer an experience. They are not worried about who they might piss off or making sure it is safe for kids.
Let the experience speak for its self and it will guide itself to who it is meant for. Games do not discriminate because of race, age, etc.; it discriminates based off skills and is like sports in that manner. It is okay to have a niche but the idea of labeling needs to be shifted to a broader audience because labeling limits the medium. Why only appeal to survival horror gamers when you could appeal to all honor fans across movies and novels? It might not be easier but it would provide a more diversified experience pulling from other mediums for a better complete experience. There is a reason that King Arthur, To Kill A Mockingbird, War and Peace, etc. are all classics and can be enjoyed to this day by all audiences. Maybe War and Peace is a little discriminant on ability to read and strength to pick up such a large book.
There is an attachment to being labeled a gamer. It is safe to know that the label is for people like you and like the things you do. But the video game medium is already so diverse that it makes no sense to make such a generalization. Getting rid of the label doesn’t make you or what you do any more or less significant. It allows you to be free to be who you are. It isn’t necessarily easier but it is for the better. Who says you can’t love to cook, play World of Warcraft, and hangout with gym nuts that love your company and food? Labels focus on one aspect of the complex person that you are and limits your scope of the world. Remove the label and who knows, those gym goers might love to join your raiding party? You never know who plays games that aren’t “gamers”.
Written by Kyle Estep