Tonight's blog is brought to you by the letter "R"-for "Real" Gamer....or Maybe just "Really Stupid Pose"....

When I get down on myself, I often start to think that I'm not a "real" gamer.  I mean, sure, I cut my teeth on Gameboy, arcade games and Windows '93, but it just seems like there's this weird sense of what makes a "real gamer" and it seems to be based in volume of games consumed.

You see, while I have played many games in the past, I also have a very busy daily schedule.  With a full time job, full time parenting, full time helping-friends-in-crisis, and more (hey, a girl's gotta take a shower, get dressed, exercise and eat too!), there are not really enough hours in a day to sit down in front of a screen for 10 hours a day.  Or 5 hours, or 2 hours, or even a half an hour!  In fact, I'm lucky if I get a good 15 minutes at a time to play a game, and this can be really frustrating, especially since many games have story sequences and cut-scenes that seem to go on for way too long.  I mean, I'm torn-I want to see the story, but then something comes along and interrupts it and I CAN'T PAUSE!!!!!!  Then I either miss it because someone decides to talk to me (and what am I going to say, "You're not important, Real Human Being, I want to consume my media in silence!"?) or because for whatever reason, I need to rush off to another engagement of some sort.

If only games could talk...on second thought, I'm actually pretty glad that's not the case...

There is this fictional idea of a "Real Gamer," who, much like the legendary Unicorn or Manbearpig, is this concept that is hotly debated online and in the company of geeky gamer type people at parties (yes, we have parties too).  Many believe that a phone is an invalid device for "gaming" and that those who play Cut the Rope or Angry Birds should not be considered "gamers" at all (not even "casual" gamers), while others believe if you like playing Connect Four and Dominoes, you're just as much of a gamer as the guy playing Halo Reach.

Gamer Cred: We haz it.

But as for me, I generally finish a game after playing it for a long period of time-say...months or even a year (Disgaea, I am looking at you!).  Sometimes, I don't even finish the game properly, especially if it's a puzzle game or an RPG that becomes ridiculous (for example, I beat Etrian Odyssey and there's a special bonus level but I never finished it because it requires you to reset all your characters to level 1 but with all those bonus points and then level up to level 50 or whatever the cap was again, and I just could not bring myself to spend another 20 hours on random battles just to play the bonus level).

Still, I open up a gaming magazine, and I read about people who are playing five gazillion games a month (well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but still...).  These people can play long, time-consuming games and finish them on a regular basis!  They can sit there leveling up characters and playing multiplayer and finishing side quests and all those bonus downloadable maps and all those great things while I'm still on Chapter 2 of Jeanne D'Arc (although it's still amazingly fun).  Sure I'm collecting a game here and there that seems like it will be awesome, but I'm still nowhere near finishing most of them, and still more are games where I would like to play theory...but I get distracted by another game (*shakes fist at Pokemon Trozei*  Why must you eat up all my gaming time, Pokemon Trozei?! Of course, no sooner do I say this then an inner voice replies "BUT IT IS FUN, DUH!")

So to some extent, I almost feel like at my slow pace, do I really deserve to talk about "gaming" as though I am a "real gamer"?  I mean, when it comes to a movie director, their credibility is largely based on how many movies they have made. So too with a person who runs marathons or plays concert piano.  It's all about your experience, and how often you practice; how hardcore you are about your activity, and gaming is no different.


So how do you go about determining if someone is a "Real" gamer?

...We also have boobies...

I suppose you should probably start with the simple things.  First, verify that said person ACTUALLY exists.  Especially on the internet, many people will experiment with identities, and while I hate to admit it, there are a lot of people who like to pretend they are gamers because they want something (this is generally young, insecure female camwhoretypes who take pictures of themselves at an angle with a camera holding still-wrapped top 3 mainstream games in their know who I'm talking about), and that something is usually attention, stuff/money, or simply slathering adoration by the (presumably) inept male nerd crowd.

Secondly, does this person play and enjoy games?  Really, this is the meat of the matter, as no REAL gamer is complete without actually playing said games.  I'm on the fence about whether or not a person has to COMPLETE all games from start to finish (or do everything humanly possible in said game) in order to be considered "real," though, because the truth of the matter is that just like there are books we only read part way before putting them down due to disinterest, plot degradation or simply the fact that we just don't feel like reading it anymore for some intangible reason, the same goes for games, TV shows, or really any kind of consumable media.  We're really never OBLIGATED to watch ALL of "Heroes" just because we kinda secretly liked the first couple of episodes, and many of us who have spent a full new-game price on a flop have probably felt that pressure to play the whole way through even if the game mechanics make you want to get a REAL gun out and shoot your console.

Wanton personal property destruction is bad....mmmkay?

The truth is that we don't HAVE to do anything we don't want to do (I know it sounds crazy, doesn't it?).  Sure, there are consequences for your choices, one way or another, but you still have the right to choose whether or not you want to play through, or just go halfway and put it down for a month or a year or forever.  And that doesn't make you any less of a "real" gamer than someone who completes everything the game has to offer, and then WILL NOT SHUT UP ABOUT IT.

I haz teh poutzorz.

So yes, I'm not as prolific in the gaming volume sector as most of my other contemporaries.  In fact, in some ways, while I do enjoy gaming quite a lot, it's not the core of who I am and what I do (I know, SACRILEGE! GO GET THE TORCHES!).  What *IS* true, though, is that gaming *IS* very important to me, and I highly enjoy gaming over most other recreational activities.  But between my daughter testing my patience (and, by the way, she's been whining from the bedroom for the past hour while I've been trying to write this post because I guess she wants HER way, and it's really really hard to hold my ground or keep myself from shouting at her angrily.  A young toddler's whine is bad enough to make me want to crawl out of my own skin and chew off my own leg to escape.  Argh, seriously...), and all the other things that are EXPECTED of me as a Responsible Adult Person, my gaming is taking the brunt of the neglect (because I like showering and eating regularly, thank you very much).

In conclusion, I think that being a "real" gamer is not the point.  It's a division that silly, self-involved people like to create in order to separate the "haves" from the "have-nots" and like any divisive stance, it doesn't really make ANYONE truly happy, because even the people who can smugly ascertain their superiority must constantly validate and affirm that superiority and stand in a pecking order with other smug people who keep trying to "one up" their peers about exactly where they are on the "real gamer" pecking order of superiority.

So, please, let's all accept that a "real" gamer is a gamer who exists on this plane of existence and enjoys games.

Beyond that, the rest is just subterfuge.


So, dear readers, what are your thoughts on the "real gamers" debate?

I look forward to your thoughts, as always! :)