Aleen Mean

Not a Gamer

On Friday I had the pleasure of talking with Brianna Wu, cofounder of Giant Spacekat (makers of the soon to be released Revolution 60) for Less Than Or Equal. I’m hoping to have that episode up today for your listening pleasure. Edit: Here it is!

At one point while we were talking I said that even though I play games I don’t consider myself a gamer. I’ve been thinking about the comment since I made it. I mean, I have always considered myself a writer even though there have been great swaths of time when I haven’t written a word outside of work. I think of myself as a reader even though I don’t make time to read for pleasure ((And, during a dismal period of time, I literally went more than a year without reading a book)). This is why I love having books on my phone. I read a few minutes here and there but rarely sit down with the intent of reading.

But as much as I read on my phone, I also play games on my phone. If I have a minute while standing in line, I’m as likely to launch Threes as I am the Kindle app. I recently dedicated two weeks of my free time to play The Last of Us. Every few weeks I think of playing World of Warcraft or Starcraft again.

Beyond that, Justin and I love to host game nights with our friends. We play games like Cards Against Humanity, Munchkin, and Gloom.

I am a gamer. So why don’t I think of myself as one?

When I think of a gamer, I think of someone highly invested in games. They ((My perception of a “real” gamer is not gendered.)) know what games are coming out soon, can tell you the backstories of NPCs, and make time to play them regularly. They’ve played a variety of games. They don’t have to look at the PS3 controller when the game instructs them to press the square key. They certainly don’t play on Easy with auto-targeting turned on.

As you may have guessed, I don’t fit into any of those categories (except for knowing some Starcraft and vague World of Warcraft lore). I couldn’t tell you what games studios are planning to release next week or next year. I still don’t know where the triangle, circle, square, and othershape ((I had to look it up: X.)) are on the PS3 controller. And yes, I played The Last of Us on easy and auto-targeted threats.

I expected to get some things wrong when I decided to start Less Than Or Equal. I didn’t expect myself to get all introspective and call myself out after my first interview. But here I go.

I was totally and completely wrong to say that I’m not a gamer. Furthermore, my perception of what a real gamer is contributes to the elitist attitude we see so frequently in the gaming industry. I play games. I love games. I miss them when I’m not playing them. In the end, the love and desire to play is what makes us gamers–not our ability.

Hello. My name is Aleen. I’m totally a gamer.