Computer games are a catalyst for a generational change in self-identification.
I believe that the notion of being a ‘gamer’ is not merely growing but becoming mainstream. Gamer is no longer a excuse for having bad personal hygiene and no social skills but simply something one is.
Of course as practices norm the category is being rendered as un-remarkable. In my personal experience Wii’ers, for instance, do no self identify as gamers; but I wonder what the trend is, where users of highly social Wii games will remain in that category or start to encompass thing that they more readily identify as computer games.
Now, in terms of the impact of computer games on society there’s a lot of discussion around these points at the moment. Some of the central themes of Castronova’s Exodus To The Virtual are about the impact of expectations of fun on society. Earlier books such as Got Game talk about the impact of the gamer generation.
Here I’m wondering I there is anything to be said about a very specific narrow point. Not the direct impact of the fact of us gaming, or as Joss de Mul has explored the idea of ludically constructing identity but that of self-identification.
Malaby has touched this here Gamers are Standing By where he posits the notion that there might be “[…] a growing cultural tendency to see the world, technologized or not, as a game?”.
For one thing I wonder if in a world of game we see our selves as gamers, or as a gamer we see the world as a game. I suspect that it’s a bit of both. An increasing number of systems and media are using the language and aesthetic of games and have elements that can or are even designed to be ‘gamed’.
I can’t say that I have much to actually say in answer to my own question. My un-informed instinct follows the equally un-informed musing above that game tropes are becoming functionally pervasive and at the same time we not only increasing see systems as things that can be gamed, but as self-identified gamers we see ourselves as people capable and legitimized to game these systems.
Here I feel the urge to defend against trivialization rhetoric. It does not seem to be that it’s a corollary that by gaming things we necessary under-value or differently value the outcomes. I still have not quite put my finger on what the nature of games as things that are generative of meaning and value does to our relation with systems and practices that we start to see through a ludic lens, I add this point to the open list that I present to the floor.
I’d just like to add a note of thanks to the Science Museum’s Dana Center for its series of game / virtual world events which inspired these thoughts.