The concept of what makes a gamer has been around for some time. I’d say since before video games, to be honest, though the term “gamer” wasn’t necessarily used in such a way. But exploring the concept and the idea is an interesting one, considering the fact that a whole new brand of gamer is flourishing. That being women.
I should back up a bit. Women aren’t actually a new brand of gamer, they’ve been around since before video games. They’ve been part of table top pen and paper, board games and other various gaming aspects like outdoor games like croquet, lawn darts, and even baseball. But in the present, when we hear the term gamer, it’s most often associated with someone who plays video games. And even then, to brand women as “new gamers” is also very naive as women have been playing video games on console and PC (and even Mac) since those devices have been around.
But what makes a gamer? Is it the fact that they managed to play and beat Mario Brothers on the NES? Or have a complete collection of Mario, Sonic, or any number of side scrolling games? Maybe they had played some of the first FPS games such as Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, or even the lesser known Corridor 7. Perhaps they made WAD files to modify Doom or Castle Wolfenstein. Maybe they had a complete collection of Sierra Games, like Hero’s Quest, Police Quest, or Space Quest. Perhaps it was a combination of PC, console and table top games that they played.
They could have had a vast collection of Magic the Gathering cards, Marvel/DC/Image Overpower cards, or even Pokemon cards. Trading and playing with their friends, or buying booster packs. Could have been they played any number of pen and paper games from Dungeons and Dragons (and all versions from 1st ED, 2nd ED, Combat and Tactics/Skills and Powers, 3rd ED, 3.5ED and onto 4th ED), Champions, Shadowrun, or White Wolf games.
While listing all of these may have brought back a few memories, their existence in what makes a gamer now is completely irrelevant. What makes a gamer now is that they play games. Regardless of their gender. They might mop up the floor in Multiplayer COD, or lead raids in WoW, or have one of the most coveted level 80 Guardians in GW2. They might even have a kick ass house and family set up in Sims. Maybe a killer deck combo in MTG. What really matters is that they play games.
Throughout life, we don’t question someone by their regular actions. Well, we shouldn’t, I should say. Because too often that happens. But too often the questions go in one direction. That direction being pointed toward a female. From what she was wearing, to what she was drinking, to what she was eating, to even what she was doing. When the gaming culture (and by extension, the geek culture) discovers a woman who has a love of a certain game, the common knee jerk reaction is to grill her on the game and all history of the game. What should be the reaction is to enjoy the moment. Somebody else likes a thing that you like. That’s pretty cool. But often with men, when they find a girl playing their game (or reading their comic or watching their television show) they sometimes find that thing less appealing because suddenly a girl likes the thing they like. And now, it’s up to that one dudebro to find out if her like for that thing is a legitimate like.
Here’s a secret; her like for a thing is a legitimate like, because it was her decision. Not the decision of some committee that said “you may like this thing now”. She made the decision, she plays this thing a lot and enjoys it, and every time she plays it she get better at it. That’s what makes her a gamer.
Gender is completely irrelevant when it comes to the title gamer. Women have been there a long time, but thanks to the common reaction from men, they’ve been too busy whining that there’s no women playing/reading/watching their favourite thing to really open their eyes and realize it. But women have been quiet about it as well, not because they have a secret club or anything. They’ve been quiet because for the longest time men have made the environment that revolves around comics, gaming and other geek culture aspects incredibly hostile.
That’s starting to change now, and it’s thanks to a lot of different women who have stood up and basically said “I’m not gonna take this bullshit anymore”. They’re women, they play games, they read comic books, they cosplay, they watch the same movies that dudes watch.
The term gamer doesn’t have a gender, nor does it require a PhD in History. It just requires someone to love gaming.