The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
We are gamers. A niche of people that grows larger and larger every day, a niche that consists and encompasses a core that feasts on a plethora of titles ranging from everything from expansive, sprawling RPG's to any number of shooters. Then there's the outer circle, who play the more light or social-oriented titles, be it the CODheads or your grandmother inundating you with Farmville invites. But what defines a gamer are not so much the titles we choose, but the passion that burns in our hearts for what we do in our free time. As I can point out, none of us here are casual. We've carved out a little niche on a gaming community to express ourselves on the latest gaming news and trivia, ensconcing ourselves in the culture of gamer, as it were, placing ourselves firmly into the camp that has many stereotypes and hackneyed clichés. But what, exactly, IS a gamer? What makes up this demographic of people who entertain themselves with a relatively new method of media, over the blockbusters and pop music that have long stood as the standards of human pastime consumption?
Gamers. A word that's so often thrown about. I've already pointed out it's a culture, but any average Joe could tell you that. What I bring to the table is a more in depth outlook. The most obvious reasoning behind the lexicon of gamer is our love for being well and truly immersed in a story, as opposed to a more passive role in the tale laid before us. We stem from the Choose Your Own Adventure books, the tabletop games of Dungeons And Dragons, pretty much anything having to do with forging your own destiny, setting your horizons and going where you wish, being constrained not by the views of another person, but our own. The views of a world in which we're not nine-to-five blue collar workers, or students, or just in general pulling ourselves through the drudgeries of everyday life. No, we yearn for something more, an interactivity interspersed with story and compelling technological advancements, all boiled down into an immaculate stew that becomes seamless and pure, captivating us in that struggle between normal skill to progress through levels and a story that keeps you moving through, to rescue the princess, make it to the next world, or simply live through your journeys. That's the primary thing we strive for.
But that's not all. There's also more deepness to the story angle than one might account for There's also the thought that you're being told a story in a completely digital universe, constrained only by tech and budget, as opposed to the real life abilities of stunts or actor's abilities. The best thing I can compare it to is the glory of animation, in which beautiful, terrible, impossible worlds come to life on screen. Whether it looks even more unbelievable than a Michael Bay-esque series of explosions or subtle nuances that project a faint aura of impossibility, we like to see the stories that can’t be told through television or movie in this medium that provides the impossibilities of real life as a mere trifle. It's the reason why video game movies don't work out, only the blandest of game stories could possibly work out as compared to what these digital stories can achieve.
And on the other side of the equation, you have the gameplay itself, captivating us with the carrot and the stick of clever puzzles, or blistering difficulty, or the controller throwing rage provided by the enemies being merciless and arriving in nonstop waves like a monolithic horde unsurpassable in real life scenarios. That's why even games without stories can work out beautifully, as gamers enjoy that grind to surmount, surpass, push on further and moving beyond the bounds of what they believe they can do. Think trophies and achievements are only for bragging rights? You’d be wrong. I at least, and I'm sure many others feel this way, feel a sense of conquering the unconquerable upon winning a game, or battling through a difficult boss on hard difficulty, or solving a puzzle that's left you scratching your head for days. So long as the challenge is fair, we as gamers like to carve ourselves a path through these difficulties and feel like we control our destinies and have a hand in it all.
Control. It's a concept that's so simple, so sanguine, and yet so difficult to grasp at the same time. Having digital avatars move at the touch of a button, going left or right or up or down or loop the loop or straight into the nearest ravine or wherever the hell we want them to go. Every human being as a rule has a bit of a god complex that they like to exercise, and gaming lets you do that like no other medium, falling into a pattern of getting your avatar to move on to the next world, or finding collectibles, or just messing around and shooting people's kneecaps. Morals aren't the same in games, so there's an insurmountable godlike freedom in being able to use a stick and control this other human's arms legs wherever you want, even if this seemingly lifelike person isn't cognizant of thought. A seemingly bit more of a disturbing side of the gaming lexicon, but to deny it is to deny ourselves and who we are. We all live vicariously through the avatar on screen, doing what we most likely can't.
Character, where do I begin with this one? Be it Crono in the sixteen bit era or Nathan Drake today, a good character will ensnare your soul, and tug at your heartstrings. You'll share in their laughter, their anger, their blood, their sweat, their tears, and eventually a bit of you will die as the ending of the story carries them out of your life. As the credits roll, it brings a sort of ephemeral sadness, a melancholy look on the fleeting of time. These people will end up firm fixtures in your heart if well done, and since you actually have a hand in where they move from one place to the other, you create a hauntingly emotional experience that will stay with you, even if the character is in a fairly loose story. Character carries our hearts, and pulls us into the name of gamer such as the other facets of gaming, and just as well.
And the worlds. Oh man, the world. The worlds that we live in, the mountains and rugged tundras of Skyrim or the middle ages Holy Land that Assassins Creed recreates, or the haunting metal fixtures and beautiful views outside of Rapture. The worlds become another character just as much as Link if done right, and makes us fall hopelessly in love with their games. The worlds tell a story all on their own, as you imagine what it must be like to live there, feeling the stoic serenity pressing down on you with a humongous weight and leaving you with a feeling that this must be a window to a world separate from your own, one you half hope at times would actually become real so you could enter this haven for transcending reality.
So, whether or not you've considered how the word gamer, actually in depth, affects us all, I implore you to realize that the meaning runs deeper, becoming part of our identity as much as words like male or female. To deny who you are is to deny the very essence of your being, and bringing you to heel as just another average person with no identifying factors. Because whether you're a CODhead, enjoy flinging birds around, traversing the wastelands of Fallout, or enjoying the antics of Nathan Drake in Uncharted, if you surround yourself by the lexicon of gamer, you become one with the community and achieve a serendipity unmatched by any other medium, bringing on a heartfelt, genuine culture shared only by writers or perhaps cinophiles. It's a nerdy pastime, sure, but it's one that we all live with, and that, my friends is what the Gamer is.