“Does playing Candy Crush make me a gamer?” “Can you really call that a game?” Do any of those questions actually matter? TL;DR: No. No, they don’t.
There’s been a huge debate within the video game community on what actually constitutes a “real” video game. That may sound completely ridiculous to anyone who does not play video games as a hobby, and to be honest, it sounds ridiculous to many actual gamers as well.
When I first came across this argument, I shrugged it off and moved on. Just more entitled and childish people embarrassing themselves, I thought. There was really no reason to involve myself in it. As time went on, however, the argument started to feel like it was seeking me out. Games that I loved to play were being attacked with negative reviews and vitriolic articles on how they didn’t have enough actual gameplay to be considered a game. My own friends started to passively badmouth and turn their noses up at people who played games they didn’t consider worthy enough, such as Candy Crush and Farmville.
Before I knew it, this way of thinking started affecting me, too. I wasn’t even aware that it had until one day my friend Rachel and I actually had a really long discussion over how I didn’t consider Clash of Clans a game, and why that didn’t really make any sense in general. When I look back on it now, I’m not sure why I was so serious about convincing her that she was wrong. Just because she played a game that I didn’t like didn’t mean she played a “fake game” or anything like that. What was wrong with her pouring hours into a tablet game about little people in a village?
It got me thinking. This argument is a huge waste of time. What are people actually trying to accomplish when they compare games to one another? What does it mean when someone says that League of Legends is more of a game than Heavy Rain? Is anything really being said at all? Is there something that’ll be completed or progressed by convincing people that the games they played aren’t “real” video games? What does it matter? Is this helping anybody?
Short answer: no.
Here’s the thing: Anything that a video game company creates and sells as a game is pretty much considered a video game by definition. It’s something made for entertainment that helps people burn time and de-stress. It’s really not something that needs to be argued over. Whether it’s a game where you shoot people or a game where you walk around a house and read notes, it’s still a video game. It’s there purely for your enjoyment. It’s there to be played. There’s no inspection or exam that games go through to qualify them as a true video game.
If I want to play what people like to call a “walking simulator,” such as Gone Home or The Stanley Parable, I should be able to do that without getting ridiculed. If I want to stream myself playing the game on Twitch or YouTube, that’s my business and the business of anyone who wants to watch me. What is the issue with people enjoying what they like playing? Shouldn’t the gaming community as a whole be less judgmental and critical of each other because of our shared love of video games?
Society in general has been really good about giving gamers a lot of grief over their habits. We’re the type of people who have had to build up an identity and hobby from scratch, to fight back and justify how we spend our leisure time. Now, we’re finally at a place where we’re an established subculture of people, and yet we spend our time turning against one another. It doesn’t make sense that on top of trying to convince society to lay off of us we turn around and judge each other for the games we play. Exclusivity doesn’t lead to anything but making you look like a fool, especially on the Internet, where your stupidity is laid out in the open for the world to see. It’s the fastest way to make sure you’re treated as an outcast and left alone with no one else to play with. There are better things to do than judge other people for the games they play. If there’s a an old lady out there spending all of her waking hours tending to her crops in Farmville, shouldn’t our reaction to that be, “YEAH, YOU GO, GRANDMA!” instead of laughing at her for playing a browser game? Shouldn’t it be cool that people who gamers consider to be “too old” to understand video games actually find their own way of enjoying them and understanding what it is we find so addicting and great about them?
If there’s one thing you’re going to get out of this article, I hope it comes down to this:
If you’re like me and don’t buy into the nonsense of trying to define what a real game is, keep on keeping on. We need more sensible people like you. If you’re one of the people on a crusade to make sure that gamers fit whatever little box you think they should fit into, stop. Stop trying to justify making other people feel like crap for the way they decide to have fun. If I want to play as a photographer girl in high school, and all I do is walk around and talk to people, that’s my business. If you just want to log in to a shooter and blow some virtual brains out, more power to you. If I like to play on PC and you like to play on a console, awesome. We’re all just people that like to play games. Age, gender, and ethnicity don’t come into play online when you’re trying to down a raid boss together or win a match in a MOBA, so why should someone’s gaming tastes matter at all? Trying to divide the community further than what it already is just contributes to making a worse place for us to have fun and forget about life for a while. You play your way, I’ll play mine, and we can get back to spending our energy talking about the more important issues, like how Kingdom Hearts 3 is clearly never coming out in our lifetime, and that P.T. could have been the next greatest horror game the world had ever seen if it wasn’t for Konami.