When I write articles, I often use the term gamer. However, I've never given a proper definition of what a gamer actually is. Given what has happened recently with the whole Quinnspiracy/GamersGate scandal (if you haven't heard about this, look it up for yourself, but don't get up in arms about it), now is a perfectly good time to clarify what I mean when I use the term.
Whenever someone calls themselves a gamer, we quickly understand that they are an individual who likes to play games, typically video games. To elaborate further, gamers are people who enjoy playing games. Otherwise, why would they play them? Someone calling themselves or someone else a gamer has nothing to do with an identity. Hopefully, when I've used the term gamer, most of you have associate this definition with my use of the term. However, a second definition of the term "gamer" has come to take on a whole larger and negative connotation that should not be confused or associated with the simple definition.
A so-called "gamer," in addition to being in the traditional sense of the word someone who plays games, carries the label of being a particularly negative or toxic individual. Anyone reading this article that has played multiplayer should be able to immediately identify a time where they played with the type of person I'm talking about. A "gamer" is someone who, after a teammate performs badly, berates them and threatens to leave the game if they don't improve; who rages and gets angry at themselves and others around them for their own poor play; who is usually like a child in the sense that if they don't get their own way, they throw a tantrum.
In addition to all of this, a "gamer's" negativity expands beyond the games they play. Their negativity creeps into online forums, comments sections, and public domains. Here, "gamers" share their views on various subjects ranging from gaming issues, social issues, or any other issue they believe their viewpoint is relevant to share on. Overtime, these "gamers" have developed a bad reputation for having unwelcome or insensitive perspectives on anything they talk about.
At this point, you should have a good understanding of the differences between the term gamer and "gamer." There's no shame or negativity in calling oneself a gamer. It simply describes the preoccupation an individual has with playing games on a regular basis. It says nothing about an individual's personal views, actions, behaviors, or attitudes. "Gamers," on the other hand, are a very small subset of the gaming community and notoriously identify themselves by word and action as individuals who are negative in their personal views, criticisms, and biases.
Why this difference should be made clear is important. One part of the gaming community does not define or reflect the whole of the community. For the most part, gamers are pretty normal individuals. Of course they have their own personal views and attitudes on things. But in most cases, gamers do not let their personal beliefs impinge on the rest of the gaming community or public. There's no denying each gamer has their own biases and negative views on any given subject, but it's the sharing of these things that is the key difference.
There is no reason gamers, like people in everyday real life, should be civil or respectful. The same rules and norms that govern the real world are just as relevant in the online, gaming world. The only real difference is anonymity. A person who can't be seen or met is more likely to be brazen in how they talk and act. For most of us, we simply choose to ignore "gamers" and their caustic attitudes. However, this in a way is compliance and unacceptable. Gamers have an obligation to speak out against "gamers" who are nothing but destructive to the games and communities they choose to participate in.
Gamers aren't a dying or soon to be extinct group. They are a large and rapidly growing demographic in many different countries. Neither are "gamers" a dying breed, though their numbers remain small. To put it simply, so long as there are gamers, there will always be "gamers." We can't expect to eradicate the "bad apples" associated with larger groups. However, we as gamers can do our best to minimize the toxicity and negativity such a group generates.
Two other points I want to make in closing. First, whenever a controversy or news story pops up, try not to give in to a knee jerk reaction of jumping to conclusions or making judgment calls. Even though they may accurately represent how you feel on the subject, it is better to first ask yourself whether or not you should care about such a topic. Is it really relevant to your life to get that worked up about? If you honestly don't care, then don't give it much if any consideration. Sometimes, it's just best to ignore trivial news stories.
Second, gaming should be about having fun. I won't go so far as to say "keep your personal views and beliefs out of gaming" as this is entirely up to you. If someone starts up a conversation about an issue you really care about or have a strong opinion on during a game, feel free to join in. Just remember 1) you get on games to play games, not have philosophical discussions and 2) know there's always the potential for discussion to get heated and for other people to jump in, especially in an online environment. Always try to be respectful of another person's point of views and never attack that person personally.
This was originally posted as an Informer Gaming