Sunday, January 29, 2012

@ReverGamers Master List Number 29

#29: What does the word "gamer" mean to you? Is that different than what other people seem to think it means?

I'll answer the second question first. The meaning of the word has changed within my lifetime. So I'll give the progression here.

When I was a kid, the word typically meant a person who plays RPGs and/or, to a lesser extent in the '80s, wargames (in the '70s there was a lot more overlap, I'm told). It was used to self-identify by gamers, and it was used in a derogatory way by non-gamers. "Oh, he's a gamer." I think it was derogatory, mostly to people who didn't understand it.

Today, the word has been co-opted by video games. If you self-identify as a gamer, people typically assume you play a lot of video games. I don't think being labeled a gamer is as negative as it used to be (geek chic and all).

I've taken to calling myself a tabletop gamer or pen and paper gamer or roleplayer. Then I have to explain it. I've also found people who play primarily board games use the term among each other. So essentially, if you are a gamer, and you're not a video gamer, you probably have to explain yourself--that is assuming it matters enough to you to explain.