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You're never too old to be a gamer

A brief explanation on my views of what makes a gamer.

(Originally posted on The Biased Gamer: http://partisk.wordpress.com/)

So I’ve been playing SimCity 4 recently, having reacquired this great title and the expansion Rush Hour through Steam at I wouldn’t have had to buy it if I could just find my CDs, but when I cracked open the old jewel case, they were both gone – probably lost in the moving-house shuffle a few months back. I did find the manual containing the CD-key, but Steam wouldn’t recognize it, so I spent the dough and, really, it was worth every penny.

 

My dear little Liberty City and its surroundings grew like well-fertilized brussle sprouts. And for a time, all was good. I soaked in the great, jazzy soundtrack, watched my pixellated cities grow and thrive, enjoyed the graphics even though the game is eight years old and I had to enable software rendering because SimCity doesn’t like newer brands of graphic cards.

But not everyone gets to experience the immeasurable awesomeness of the SimCity franchise, because, in their own words, “they are not gamers”. I’ve run into this manner of protest several times over the years and it doesn’t make anymore sense now than it did when I first heard it.

What is a gamer? A gamer is a person who enjoys playing games, whether they do it on their consoles, their computers, their phones or whatever other devide they can get their hands on. A gamer has no specific gender, age-bracket or interests outside of gaming. A gamer, in short, is a person that plays games.

Now, by that definition there are more than 80 million gamers playing FarmVille over Facebook. There are over 200 million gamers registered as playing Habbo HotelGamers bought gaming applications for the iPhone and iPod for more than million in 2009 alone and, last year, Microsoft reported Xbox Live gamers spending million on games in just the month of January and having 23 million gamers online.

Granted, out of the users on Xbox Live, some will be that other creature, the rarely-seen hardcore gamer that shuns sunshine and will play anything that makes funny noises and offers great, virtual rewards, but the majority of gamers today will be casual gamers.

Casual gamers have been sneered upon by “regular gamers” (typically between the ages of 14 to 19, male and living at home) for a long time, but the gaming industry picked up on the surge of casual gaming that began to rear its head with the introduction of social games on platforms such as Facebook, gaming applications for the various mobile phone operative systems and – very importantly – with the introduction of Xbox Live.

A person who signs up to play FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Texas HoldEm Poker or Pet Society on Facebook may not consider themselves a gamer, but the companies behind these games certainly do, because their share of the revenue cake becomes all the larger thanks to these casual gamers. Companies such as BigFish have also seen an upswing in sales thanks to their casual gaming approach.

So if you are playing a game regularly, that makes you a gamer. You might also be a grandmother or a stock broker, a kid living at home or a senior enjoying your pension by sitting on the porch playing games on your Nintendo DS; you’re nevertheless a gamer.

The difference between types of gamers are quite interesting and will be the subject of a future blog post, but for now, let me wrap this up:

I am 27 years old, a father, and I am a gamer. I enjoy playing games, both new and old. I enjoy talking about games, with those who share my interests and with those who do not. Gaming is a hobby, much like taking walks or collecting stamps – we all have hobbies and the ones we have do not reflect what we are.

Keep this in mind the next time someone starts telling you off for playing computer games.

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