Thursday, July 31, 2014

Defining the gamer

I had dinner last night with my best friend.  He is a relatively new gamer, one I brought into the fold. Earlier in the day I had made an indirect criticism of how he named his characters and how it diminished my suspension of disbelief in the games we played together.  I could tell he took the comment to heart when he made an analogy about his time as a football player.

He stated that he understood that his level of commitment to the gaming hobby was not at the same level as mine and others he knew.  His level of commitment made him less of a gamer than others who devoted more time and energy to the hobby.  It was like when he played high school football.  It bothered him at the time when others would say "I am a football player," but what they meant was that sometimes they played catch with their dad or friends on the weekend.  They weren't football players, HE was a football player.

I get where he is coming from there.  Indeed, I have been guilty of this kind of thinking often in my own life and hobbies.  Looking at the situation as he presented it last night, I see the huge flaw in that argument.  Where does that elite sort of thinking end?  Does a college football player get to tell my friend that what he was doing wasn't football because it was only at the high school level?  Does an NFL pro get to disqualify the college player from the ranks of football players because he plays on Saturdays instead of Sundays?  Does a player with a Super Bowl ring get to tell the bench warmer on a last place team that he is not a football player?

The answer, for me at least, is no.  Those guys playing football in their backyard are playing, and enjoying, football.  

The same goes for my friend being a gamer.  Certainly, I will continue to discourage him from naming his characters so flippantly.  But I think the definition of a gamer is: someone who enjoys gaming.  That means the guys who make games for a living.  It also means the game masters who belly up to the table every session and have their beautiful plots and schemes ripped apart by callous players.  It also, also means the players who get together every week, month, once in a blue moon to roll some dice/flip some cards/do rock, paper, scissors to resolve conflicts.  It also, also, ALSO means that poor soul who has dice and cannot find a group.

The only real definition is this: If you want to game, you are a gamer.  

The less time we spend worrying about the definitions, the more time we get to spend gaming.

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