On Gamers

Okay, so WTF is Wrong With Gamers?

I know this isn’t breaking news, but it turns out that “gamers” suck. With behavior like “swatting” people as a goof, threatening rape and murder of women who are critical of the video game industry, and polluting whatever online forums they occupy with their regressive ideas and repetitive attempts at humor, gamers generally make the world a more unpleasant place whenever they manage to get motivated enough to actually interact with it.

So, what gives?

To begin with, anyone who has turned their favorite leisure activity or product (be it music, movie, or novel) into the central pillar of their personality is damaged goods. That is, if they are any older than a teenager, of course.

In modern society, crafting one’s sense of identity out of consumer goods is a completely normal stage of development. When you start grade one, you get to choose your very own lunch box with your favorite character on it. With this, all your new peers have something to know about you right from the start; there’s a label to hang on you already. Of course, there are also those children whose parents cannot afford a new character lunch box and we start to identify and enforce social strata based on consumer spending. Good little drones.

As we grow up, so too do our choices of how to signal our individuality. Many people use music. Others will use sport or their favorite pastime. Fringe elements will start to identify themselves through deviant behavior of early sexual activity or substance abuse; sometimes also identified through the fashion of whatever the “bad” music is these days. All this can carry us socially through high school and into early adulthood.

Ok, so now I’m eighteen, done with school, am entering a whole new social circle (be it work or post-secondary education), and… who am I supposed to be now? This is a scary time of life.

There are different ways to handle this question. For most people, they simply expand whatever they had relied upon earlier. They base their personality on some kind of philosophy or action. I’m an artist! I’m a Christian! I’m a musician! I’m an athlete! I’m an activist! Even, “I’m a tradesperson,” or “I’m a student,” is just fine. Any of these, or other identities like them, sets us off into adulthood on the right foot. It’s just a place to start while we get going on figuring out and negotiating who we really are. A process that never ends, by the way. Or, rather, it should never end; anyone, at any age, who has ceased evolving and learning about themselves is a dud to be avoided whenever possible.

As well, there certainly are many people who have a strong sense of self right from the beginning. Who already know who they are and never need to cling to some kind of label. These people tend to be some manner of outcast (without even noticing sometimes), or the center of their own little unique clique. They generally are fine.

Then there’s the rest. These are people who don’t have any clue who they are, and regress rather than getting on with life anyway. They cling to materialism and constructions of identity through consumer goods. They might be obsessed with the status of having all the right brands and looking a certain way, or they might remain completely infatuated with something they loved as a child: some band, celebrity, or an entertainment franchise (science fiction and fantasy is rife with these fandoms).

While it might be a shock to many for me to put image conscious, luxury brand sporting pretty people into the same category as Trekkies and otaku, as far as I’m concerned they are all suffering from the same basic personality malfunction. At their heart, all these people are saying nothing more than, “I’m a consumer.”

This is all fine too, if that’s the best people can do for themselves. With these types, their obsession opens them to a social side to life which might not have been otherwise available. Trekkies can seek out other Trekkies. Fashionable people can go on reality television and talk shit about each other.

Then there’s the gamers. Those adults who have decided that their love of playing video games is what defines them best. Video games. Keep in mind: I am not talking about people who like to play video games here (I’m certainly one of them); I am talking about people who have specifically crafted a label for themselves based on this. They have chosen to make this enjoyment a central feature of who they are. When someone identifies themselves as a gamer, they are saying that this pastime is important enough to, at least in part, define them as a person.

Clearly, these are people with profound social difficulties.

Keep in mind too that they have defined this special category of gamer to exclude the players of most games. I have loved playing D&D, Magic The Gathering, card games, board games, dice games, and any number of other games. However, playing any of these would not qualify me as a “gamer.” No, for that, you must be a player of video games; the least socially interactive of all games. Video game “gamers” have elevated the only form of game that has no social aspect above all the other forms that necessitate social interaction. This is telling.

I remember once going to a little get-together at a friend’s house: with my friend, his room-mate, his sister and her husband, and myself. Things were awkward and my friend said we should watch a dumb movie to do some Mystery Science Theatre type heckling. Great idea! However, his brother-in-law, a man with the social skills and likability of a bowl of congealed turkey fat, got all pissy about it and insisted we play X-Box.

“Video games are just so much more interactive than movies,” he proclaimed pompously.

He got his way, and he and my friend commenced to destroying we “noobs” at Halo, with buddy wordlessly staring slack-jawed at the screen while his wife, the only person there denied a controller, cheered him on. How very interactive.

Not only did this guy believe his preferred form of entertainment was more interactive than all of us lambasting a movie together, he actually had the balls to exalt it as socially superior. Yeah, because humor and verbal communication are pointless in our modern age. Who needs those skills when you can scream “fag!” and “camper!” at each other over headsets without ever leaving your house?

If you suck at life and can’t create or maintain relationships, find out if the false sense of accomplishment and the illusion of human interaction of gaming is right for you!

Better that than fundamentalist religion, anyway.

It should be no surprise that the people happily self-applying this label of gamer would turn out to be unpleasant. Well-balanced, happy, and productive people do not wind up with video games being the most important thing in their life. Further, people with social difficulties become angry. This is natural. They can’t make human connections, they get isolated, and they often get obsessive and toxic.

This is sad for them, without a doubt, but that’s the way it goes. However, it is another matter when gamers, in an attempt to matter on a human level to someone, cross the line from offensive shithead to actual criminality. They are then criminals and should be dealt with accordingly.

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