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1. There Are More Games Than Ever Before
One simple reason that we should stop debating over “real” gamers is that there are more games than ever before. And on the most basic level, a gamer is simply someone who plays a video game.
Yes, that includes the single mom who likes to play Pokemon Go for an hour before heading to bed. Or the kids who never got rid of their old Tamagotchi. It even includes people finding the weirdest possible free games and downloading them to their smartphones.
If you game, you’re as “real” as any other gamer. And a study done a few years ago found that a staggering 75% of American households had at least one video game in them. If the vast majority of your country is gaming, debating who the “real” gamer is becomes stupider than ever.
2. Modern Gaming Focuses On Inclusive Communities
While this is a hard pill for some to swallow, debating over who is a real gamer or not is a form of gatekeeping. And while gatekeeping is always stupid, it’s particularly silly when it comes to video games.
That’s because most of the gaming industry has been moving towards creating inclusive gaming communities. This is why Discord servers develop intense fan followings and Twitch streamers try to cultivate a community of loyal fans.
Simply put, there is little room in the industry for gamers who want to prove they are the king of their basement when everyone else is finding common ground in their love of gaming.
3. The Biggest Challenges in Gaming Are Always Changing
Even if you were to answer the question of who a “real gamer” is, how would you do it? One of the traditional methods would be to come up with some kind of challenge that you think a modern gamer should overcome.
A modern version of this might be whether someone has beaten Dark Souls or not. But here’s the thing: the biggest challenges in gaming are always changing. A gamer from the ’80s might not think you’re a real gamer unless you’ve beaten all the Swordquest games that were released for the Atari 2600. A 90’s gamer might not think you’re the real thing unless you beat Battletoads on the NES.
Basically, we can’t exactly hold someone to a standard if that standard is always changing. Once again, the “real gamer” debate proves how silly it really is.
4. Veteran Gamers Have the Least Free Time
Another metric for measuring “real gamer” status would be how long someone has been playing video games. And chances are that many of the people reading this have literally been gaming for many decades.
However, it’s an open secret that most of us have less free time for games as we get older. Once you have a professional job and a family, it’s tough to put in a daily eight-hour grind on that latest MMORPG. Or to master all the combos in the newest fighting game.
In other words, those who have gamed the longest usually have the least amount of time to play. But that doesn’t make them any less of a “real gamer” than someone who plays games all day because they have nothing else to do.
5. You’re Just Giving Publishers a Marketing Tool
When players are debating who the “real” gamers are, do you know who actually wins? The marketing teams of game publishers, of course.
Many publishers have discovered how labeling a game as “hardcore” or a “real challenge.” In most cases, this is a way of making lemonade out of some lemons: when a game is too difficult for most players, this would normally be a kiss of death in terms of sales. Instead, the marketing team turns this into a niche marketing tool by insinuating you’re not a “real gamer” unless you buy this game.
Put another way, giving the “real gamer” argument any serious weight just makes you a dancing monkey for game publishers who don’t otherwise know how to sell a title.
6. Many Conflate “Real Gamers” With “Someone With Access and Money”
Over the years, one of the “real gamer” criteria has been whether someone has played a certain game or system, especially if that game or system was hard to get. For example, someone insisting you’re not a “real gamer” if you didn’t play the Japanese import of Devil May Cry 3. Or if you never had a chance to play on a Neo Geo home console or even a Vectrex.
But what do these arguments really boil down to? “You’re not a real gamer unless you have plenty of money and access to exclusive games and consoles.”
We wouldn’t apply this to any other fandom, right? Nobody thinks someone doesn’t love movies unless they have a bunch of obscure Japanese Laserdiscs. Why would anyone ever apply this standard to gamers?
7. It’s All About Passion
Speaking of other fandoms, what do they all have in common? To be a sports fan, you have to be passionate about sports. To be a music fan, you have to be passionate about music.
Honestly, this is the beginning and end of what it takes to be a “real gamer:” a passion for gaming. If you care about games enough to regularly play them, then you care enough to be a real fan.
And anyone who thinks that isn’t enough? Well, they obviously care a bit too much about a simple hobby!
8. Only Idiots Base Their Personalities Around Consumerism
The final reason that the “real gamer” debate is pointless is simple: anyone who bases their identities around consumerism is an idiot and a simp for major corporations.
Think about it: everyone knows someone whose entire identity is “I’m a big fan of X.” In this case, X may represent a certain band, a genre of movies, a car...anything, really. And if we’re being real, these are simultaneously the most boring and annoying people you will ever meet.
Being a gamer is just one part of your identity. Chances are you’re also a parent and a worker. Maybe you’re a cosplayer and an artist. Whatever makes up your identity, “gamer” should be just one part of that.
And anyone who takes that one thing and makes it their whole identity and personality is someone you should ignore, and certainly not someone you ever need to impress with your “real gamer” credentials.