Gamer Pride

Sort of apropos of Ted's post, take a look at this short essay in The Guardian: "To come out as a gamer is still to risk looking a social n00b: Even with sympathetic friends, we still speak low when we speak games."

This certainly is not true everywhere, and certainly is not true among communities of gamers.  We don't tend to speak low on this blog about games, and there are plenty of gaming blogs out there.  So I'm curious as to how this maps onto your personal social perceptions.  In what particular circles do you "speak low when you speak games"?  Work?  Family?  School?  Where isn't it cool to "come out" as a gamer?

Comments on Gamer Pride:

Cunzy1 1 says:

I agree with the Graudian post totally.

I'd also like to add that a high percentage of people who play games do not trawl the blogosphere, or even metacritic or even kotaku to find out about games. See Leigh Alexander's I 'Gamer' post for more in this vein.

It is for this self same reason why that the charts are often full of dross or dominated by the AAA sequel titles and why some of the best games all but fail at retail.

This leads to bizarre situations where you may be waxing lyrical about games with a group of gamer friends one evening and then sit in silence whilst someone goes on and on about their wine tasting hobby.

It still has quite a long way to go before it is acceptable to wear your I <3 DS Tee on the street or take a rain check on a social gathering to go home and play a new game.

Posted Oct 23, 2009 11:29:17 AM | link

Nick Novitski says:

Humans play games. Period. It's as universal as language. To be ashamed of it would be like being ashamed of watching movies or reading books. Discussing them should be as controversial as discussing sports and the weather. I can understand why people might have been socialized into believing themselves a minority or somehow uncool, but if it ever was true, it isn't anymore, and I hope they realize how utterly neutral a subject it is.

That said, some people, including myself, play them enthusiastically, and then discuss them enthusiastically. For the reasons I mention above, there is absolutely no social setting I can easily imagine where I would not feel utterly comfortable talking about games in some fashion, but the details of social contracts and user design and so forth and so on, can usually be glossed over and saved for the curious or likewise interested.

...Unless this is all talking about digitally-mediated games, rather than games in general. In which case I suppose it's only "universal" within developed countries. But my opinion mostly stands.

Posted Oct 23, 2009 12:01:28 PM | link says:

I "speak low when I speak games" all the time. I had a tendency to hold the card close to my chest, wait until the other person either asked directly or slipped up and inadvertently showed that they were gamers too.

No-one introduces themselves to new people with "hey, I'm a geek" (unless you're wearing some geeky outfit). It just doesn't happen. At least when people ask "What subject do you research?" and you reply with "Computer Science", they come back with something nice like "There's lots of money in that! Good for you" (and occasionally "Can you fix my computer?")

It's the follow-up question I don't like. This is a real conversation:

Them: "What part of CS do you study?"
Me: "Oh, I research Video Games, it's really important you know! Huge sums of money, lots of big, hard problems."
Them: "I've got two eight year-olds that could tell you all about video games!"

Posted Oct 23, 2009 12:32:56 PM | link

Stabs says:

It's about sex. When game designers (or even game academics) become the kind of superstars women want to date it won't be a stigma.

It's already happened to Football. When I grew up in the UK people who actually went to stand in the rain on a Saturday afternoon were called "anoraks" (a pejorative term akin to "nerd") and mocked. Then once footballers started getting huge pay packets and appearing on random TV as celebrities they became sex symbols ultimately leading to the phenomenon known as David Beckham.

In thirty years time female fashion icons will be looking for game designers to marry. Non-gamers will be misusing gamer jargon at parties to get laid.

Posted Oct 23, 2009 6:20:00 PM | link

Verilazic says:

I think an interesting question is what games/events/etc have advanced gaming culture as more mainstream? I'm thinking things like Blizzard's WoW ads, Guitar Hero, and the star-studded casts in the most recent Command and Conquer games.

Posted Oct 25, 2009 4:08:33 PM | link

shamuss says:

The Guardian's article is good, but think it's not true.

Posted Oct 27, 2009 6:01:14 AM | link

wiggiitt says:

Whether I talk low or loud about games really depends on who I'm with. If I'm with one of my gamer friends I'll talk talk talk about whatever games with them. But if someone who doesn't really play or know about games is around I won't talk about it. I think that's also just a common courtesy to do so.

It actually really bothers me when someone talks about games loudly at parties or other social gatherings. I don't know why, it's not very logical to me. They just feel like posers. There's this one girl in particular...whoa. Always talking about King's Quest, I think she just heard some 8 bit music and looked for an old school ~cool~ game.

The only time I do feel uncool about them is when one of my friends who thinks it's hilarious at social gatherings to bring up the fact that I played Wow for a really long time... does so. It's not embarrassing, just a weird situation. The other person mentions South Park and has no clue what the game is actually like or they try to talk about it like they know what's going on. Maybe they read some essay somewhere about Second Life and think it's the same thing... wrong! My responses are usually really short and I try to change the subject.

Posted Oct 27, 2009 6:00:24 PM | link

Jonas Miller says:

I generally hold back, when it comes to talking about games. Especially when I´m meeting new people. I definitely think, that you have to be careful to mention games, unless you want to be labeled right off the bat. Of course it´s not true everywhere, but I lay low in general. I study Media science at the University, and even there I pick up a ton of prejudice. I don´t mind talking about games, but I do know, that it´s far from everywhere, that it´s socially acceptable to be interested in games.

Posted Oct 28, 2009 4:52:28 AM | link

greglas says:

Thanks to everyone.

Though there are exceptions, the numbers seems to indicate that there is a significant issue here about digital games, at least among the TN voluntary commenter bunch (a crowd which, I would guess, has its own unique characteristics).

The odd thing is that this Pew Report from 2006,
suggests that the majority of the younger set is playing:
"Studies at the Pew Internet & American Life Project show that virtually all college students play video, computer or internet games and 73% of teens do so."

I'm not among the younger set any more (they tell me), so I know why some people in circles where I travel might not be familiar with gamers, but the prevalence of the "gamer shame" thing, at least among the younger set, is a little puzzling, isn't it?

Posted Oct 28, 2009 4:15:48 PM | link

Krista-Lee Malone says:

I have never been one to hide the fact that I play video games, but maybe being labeled as a geek from an early age just socialized me into being comfortable with the label.

Back home in the states I loved finding other local gamers and talking shop as it were. At the moment I am in Taiwan and I miss it.

No one here plays video games. Games are advertised and sold everywhere, but I have had the most difficult time finding people to admit that they have ever played a video game. The gamer shame I have found here is way beyond anything I ever saw back home. It is actually quite amazing really.

Posted Nov 6, 2009 8:47:17 AM | link

Lydia Laurenson says:

I've never had much of a problem coming out with my gamer status, but I suspect that this is highly influenced by the fact that I'm female and slender. Additionally, I wrote games professionally for a couple of years. So, for the first two -- female/thin -- those mean that most of the stigma against the average gamer just ... slides off me, since it's usually heavily intertwined with "unattractive loser" type stigma. (Let me emphasize that I don't think gamers are unattractive losers; I just think gamers are perceived to be unattractive losers.) And the fact that I was a pro for a while lends a certain so-called "legitimacy" to my gamerness.

It is possible that my lack of experienced stigma is also influenced by:

(a) the fact that I'm also white, upper-middle-class, and educated. These circles are pretty accepting of gamernerds.

(b) the fact that in middle/high school I was already the "odd one out", and everyone thought I was weird and crazy anyway, so it didn't make much difference that I also spent all my time playing online games.

All this having been said, I still get some weird looks from people when I talk about LARPing sometimes. In fact, this happened just the other day -- I was sitting around with a group of (white, upper-middle-class, educated) friends, most of whom are currently playing in their very first tabletop roleplaying game, and when I said the word LARP one of them said, "You've LARPed?"

"Yep," I said. "What?"

"Nothing," he said, and smirked.

To which I said, "Shut up."

I do think that the stigma against gaming has decreased considerably, but I'm not sure how much, and I'm also not sure the decrease has happened evenly across different races/classes/genders.

Posted Nov 6, 2009 12:07:43 PM | link

Tamara Digitalis says:

Being a gamer in this day in age operates under a large umbrella; as nowadays, games are not just played for recreational purposes but for personal and professional progression as well.

If you enjoy online gaming and want to train to become your company's next IT Manager, then you will really enjoy IT Manager III: Unseen Forces

Posted Nov 9, 2009 6:52:29 AM | link

John Beety says:

For me, gaming is a hobby, and I follow the "hobby rules" for real-world interaction. I do not talk about games or gaming with an unfamiliar person unless asked about my hobbies. Then, I mention that I enjoy video games (among other interests) and I do not return to the topic unless the other person asks a follow-up.

Gaming is part of who I am, but I do not let it completely define me. I also recognize that gaming, like any hobby, is far less interesting to most people than it is to me, and having suffered through conversations with far too many people who thought their hobbies should be interesting to everybody else, I will not do the same to others.

At work, I have a couple of clues that suggest my gaming hobby. A poster with a Magic: the Gathering landscape is on one wall in my office, and my desktop background (also a landscape) is copyrighted by Square Enix. There is nothing overt or work-inappropriate, but the suggestion is there for anyone who wants to pick up on it.

Among family and friends, my penchant for gaming is common knowledge. Again, I do not talk about it unless asked, but judging by the holiday presents I get, they know.

At a gaming tournament or convention, I feel more free to be a gamer, but at the same time, the hobby rules still apply. Attendees at a convention may want to drop the gamer-talk for a while, and there are the custodians and hot-dog vendors to consider. Then there are parents, significant others, etc. who would like nothing better than to have a normal (for them) conversation. By following the "hobby rules," I can give them that much.

Finally, within a MMORPG, I am a gamer. Everyone around me is paying or considering paying $12 to $15 a month to play the game. We all play, we all know.

Posted Nov 12, 2009 11:28:01 AM | link

elena865 says:

His article is awful. This is all.

Posted Nov 13, 2009 3:52:42 AM | link

Steven Dashiell says:

While the Pew Study does indicate the 'younger set', commonly referred to as "the Millenials" (a generation title I abhor) are more open to 'gaming', don't mistake that for a widespread acceptance of what is still seen as the stereotypical gamer.

I did my Master's final work on the concept of time displacement and MMORPGs, and when I brought up the topic to a lot of 'englightened Millenials', their faces had as much disgust as their Gen X compatriots.

I think younger people can understand someone WANTING to play WoW, or Second Life, or the Sims, and might be willing to try and play themselves. However, when they make time correlations between play and advancement (e.g. just how long do you have to play to get that character up to 70th level so the Lich King would notice you exist), there is judgment.

In my life, there's an audience who clearly understands MMORPGs and why I play (they play also, and are more intense than I). There's an audience who understand the concept, but the most gaming would ever be is small talk (and short at that). And then there's a sizable percentage of people in my life who simply don't understand, and see it as a 'black hole' as far as time committment. For that crowd, gaming is seen as the direct opposite of the Protestant Work Ethic discussed by Weber.

Posted Nov 25, 2009 1:25:03 PM | link