So I wrote a bit of an essay on my thoughts about "Gamer" identity and culture.
For a long time I considered myself a "Gamer" because I grew up loving video games. Playing them, thinking about them when I wasn't playing, imagining and enlarging the worlds they transcribe. I talked about them with my friends, coveted new games I was unable to buy, read magazines about them, learned arcane, unfriendly software to build personal levels or mod them. I literally grew up with video games in the sense that the industry and game development grew up and developed alongside me. Later, in college, most of my friends only had a peripheral interest in games, if any at all. They would play them if they were around but otherwise it was clear that games and their worlds didn't occupy their minds the way they did mine. I thought I was a "Gamer." Then I went to Full Sail to study computer animation.
I watched two kids (and I say that because they were 17-18) in one of my introductory classes get in a shouting match and nearly come to blows over an argument about video cards. I realized that some of this stuff was so much a part of who these kids thought they were, their little half formed identities, that any different assertion, or even a claim of an non-standard preference constituted a challenge that demanded a response as though a shot had been fired across their bow. That was when I realized that maybe I wasn't a "Gamer" if that's what it was.
There's a much longer discussion about identities, how we construct them, what they mean to us, and how they influence our interactions with others, but I'll try to keep it relevant. I still love video games. I love working on them, creating worlds and experiences. I love working with the other amazing people that have dedicated part of their lives in an attempt to create a piece of technology and culture that will go out and become a part of someone else's life. Perhaps even become a part of some kids imagination. That's always been the dream. As a creator I honestly believe the sooner the walls of the adolescent clubhouse of "Gamer culture" are ripped down the better. Perhaps we can move on to trying to make something more meaningful and culturally supportive and relevant than a childish power fantasy. Don't get me wrong, I love those games too. Shit, I grew up with them and still play them. However, as an adult who has been exposed to multiple perspectives I've also since realized that they often represent the world seen through a very, very small lens and there's simply no reason for that lens to dominate the world of games any more. Video games have struggled since their inception for validation and acceptance as a genuine expression of culture, an art form, and not just simply fancy toys. I say if you want to be treated like an adult, than start acting like one.