I've refined my thoughts since the last time I committed to identifying as a gamer. The more time I spend on online gaming sites the more I encounter problems with what is seen as the gaming community. There really is an insularity that keeps creativity stifled, and allows misogyny and other exclusionary attitudes to thrive. It's not always like that, but it's a problematic and highly visible. It alters broader public perception, and the perception of developers on who they are creating games for. Both of these factors diminish games as a medium that can be enjoyed by many different types of people (tangent: and cats).
The hip thing to do at the moment is apparently to reject the use of the word 'gamer' and tell people not to identify themselves that way. Maybe I'm just not fashionable, but I have some reasons for standing up for the label (though not without limits).
The first issue is a lack of alternatives.
When I named this blog I accepted that including gamer in the title has its problems, but it is still meaningful. Game can mean all kinds of things, but gamer is probably going to be about video games -- or possibly pencil and paper roleplaying, which is also accurate in my case.
Now, I could have tried to come up with a clever name without needing to include games as a term at all. I could have incorporated something people might recognise from gaming culture, perhaps. "Giant enemy crab set us up the bomb" isn't very personal really. More seriously, I doubt I could have come up with something to fit.
A while ago I tweeted about the browser game Loved. I said it felt like being challenged by a thirteen-year-old, and isn't nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
Having only just played Loved I was in the mood to be snarky and defensive. It seemed like the game's creator was getting off on making me dance to his tune. I felt dirty and tried to rebel, which only made things worse.
It's worth noting that this isn't quite a criticism. It's a game that set out to prompt a reaction, and clearly it worked on me. Maybe a little too well.
Alexander Ocias interviews quite well, though having a face to put to the name creeps me out a little given how I reacted to his game. Nice to see a small-time Aussie developer getting so much coverage though.