In August, the biggest controversy to hit gaming since Jack Thompson accused video games of making people more violent, arrived.
Gamergate was born from the now infamous Zoe Post which was responded to by multiple articles on different gaming sites saying that “Gamers were dead”, released mere hours after each other in what was proven to be an orchestrated movement by gaming journalists on the also infamous “GamingJournoPros” mailing list.
These articles went everywhere from declaring that gamers don’t have to be the audience for a games developer when they are making a game all the way to the fact that in today’s video game market gamers do not exist.
There was uproar after this, and rightfully so, but it does raise an extremely important question. What is a gamer? Should game devs be catering to gamers? And is the term “gamer” true to some, all or are there different levels of being a gamer?
Firstly, what is a gamer? You’ll get different people giving you answers for this. Some will say that if you have ever played any game then you are in fact a gamer. Others will argue that gamer only applies to those whose main hobby is gaming. I think that it’s somewhere in the middle.
I don’t believe that if you have played Angry Birds once you are a gamer. Nor do I believe that your main hobby has to be gaming to be called a gamer. If you play games, whatever games they are (mobile, online or console/PC) at least once a week you are a gamer.
It’s a hobby you enjoy but don’t necessarily spend all your free time doing. It’s something that you have a little bit of knowledge in but not at the level of what engines you should run games on. It’s merely the fact that you play games for the simple enjoyment of playing games. It’s that simple.
Currently, gaming is the biggest form of entertainment media out there. It raked in 82 billion dollars last year, double what the film industry made.
It is one of the fastest growing industries in the world as more and more people flock to it, be it social network games like Farmville or Candy Crush, mobile games such as Angry Bird or 4 pics One word all the way to console games such as the highly successful Call of Duty and Halo franchises and new generations of consoles being released.
Gaming sites like Steam are currently worth up to 5 billion dollars. Why is this? It’s because game developers see a market and cater to it.
The biggest market of console game buyers are in the 18-35 age bracket, mainly first-person shooters. Games like COD, GTA and Halo are at the top of the money list. They cater to 18-35 year old males mostly.
Some people on the anti-GamerGate side have called this sexist and have told developers they don’t need to cater to these people. However, the money speaks for itself.
Of the top ten highest grossing games of all time, Super Mario and Sims are the only games there not aimed at males in that age range. Developers will make games that sell, especially so-called Triple A Developers. It’s how the industry works.
The developers see a market that wants a certain game, judges what demographic they are and targets that game at them. It’s nothing to do with misogyny. There is nothing sinister there and if we don’t want to see this great industry go through a second crash it needs to keep happening.
Indie gaming is the flip-side of this. Any person who wants to make a great game can do so through crowd-funding or such. Last year was definitely the year of indie gaming with games like Shovel Knight, Transistor, Bravely Default and Child of Light showing what independent developers and companies can do.
There is a market for those types of games too but to expect that every game should be like them is ridiculous.
There are of course different levels of gamers, from the people who love them and spend most of their free time playing them (hardcore gamers) to people who just spend an hour or two a week playing them (casual gamers) there are a whole range of sub-labels under the umbrella that is a gamer.
Gamers aren’t dead, nor will they ever be. Being a gamer is just a label, and a label isn’t alive. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you subscribe to that label and if you do wear it like a badge of honour.
No-one should be able to take what you love away from you, and never let them do it. Gaming is something so unique, so amazing (even if it has its flaws, problems and controversy) that one should never be ashamed to enjoy them.
I know I’m a gamer, and nothing or no-one can make me ashamed of that.
By Mark Kelly
Images courtesy of google images.