People and labels, right? It’s a thing.
The fundamental rule is that a person gets to decide which labels apply to them. That it doesn’t matter if they dress black and makeup white, that they went to Slimelight, that they prefer the darkness to the day, that they’re not Goth unless they say they are. That how many different labelled people you’ve fucked, loved or lusted after doesn’t change whether you’re gay, bi, pan, straight. That one person’t ethical non-monogamy is another’s polyamory, is another’s swinging, is another’s happy-fun-other-person-time. Your life, your labels, your world.
One of my labels is Gamer.
I play games.
I play computer games, with lasers and shooting and the blam-blam-blam of exploding pixels; with tactics and strategy and getting caught in nuclear war with Ghandi; with jumping and springing and collecting coins and defeating the evil dinosaur at the end; with matching of three gems in a row to make them vanish; with questing and searching and finding the book on the case that proves the murderer.
I play board games with dice, and with cards, and I play them with friends together and as adversaries.
I play Tabletop roleplay with dragons and with spells and with the rolling d20 to see if I spotted that orc.
I play LARP with rubber swords and with Gods and with secret meetings in dark corners where we plan the murder of those who most expect it; where the battle with the orcs will change the fate of the empire; where the right philosophy, cast in the right order, might save the litch whose blood just went toxic.
I play games with people, of wordplay, of expectations, of the glitches in human psychology that can be levered to a reaction.
I am a runner of games, a designer of games, a writer of games.
I am a player of games. I am a Gamer.
There’s quite a few of us, and it’s a big tent, and one of the problems with any kind of big tent is people wish to define it not only by who is inside, but who is allowed to be. There are those who define Gamer as those who play the games they play. Be it the D&D old guard who rail against the onslaught of video games; be it the “Hardcore” videogame Call-Of-Madden’s-Duty types who rage against those who play Candy Crush on their iPhones; or be it the Nintendo-Sony-XBox-PC Triple-A purchasing crowd of mostly american white males who desperately want to keep this one last bastion treehouse free of girls.
All of them, without question, excuse or exception, can fuck directly off.
I’m not a great spokesperson for gamers. I’m another 30s white male. I have a distressing beard that doesn’t really suit me (currently, because I’m lazy), I’m out of shape. But I try my damnedest to make the world more inclusive, not less, to speak up when speaking up is needed, and to hand over the megaphone when it’s automatically given to me. (This latter is hard, I adore my megaphones). But I can only name less than half a dozen female games designers, and a few of those are only because I remember the last rounds of “N is abused on twitter for having an opinion/game”.
I’d like these shit-golems not to not be sharing the same label I use for myself, but I’m not willing to leave it to them. I would like the carbon they are made of to be used for more worthwhile purposes, like diamond-studded “FUCK YOU” statues.
I want them to move into the new century, to realise that more diversity, more options, more variation will make better games. I want them to realise that not all games need to be defined and categorised by their combat mechanic, and that games where you kill nobody are still games. I want them to discover the beauty in the last half hour of Dear Esther, Gone Home, The Stanley Parable. To realise that Depression Quest is not about winning. That Every Day The Same Dream does not need a first-person-shooter remake. Not even to like them, to play them, to enjoy them; but to understand that they exist, they don’t take away from the Games they prefer (and, in fact, can add to them).
It’s a big tent, and we can make it stronger by getting more canvas, putting up more poles, and inviting everyone inside to play together, or not together, but at the same time.
And to please stop being misogynistic shit-golems. That’d be great too.