111: Creating the Normal Gamer

Creating the Normal Gamer

"A lot of the threads at these sites crow about victory despite the winner's declining years, and at least imply a hearty taunt delivered over the body of the fallen foe. If they're playing Halo, they typically recount a 'tea-bag' (a motion where the victor puts his genitals on the victim's body). If they're playing World of Warcraft, they talk about ganking gankers. So, really, the subject matter is the same here as everywhere else."

Roger Travis explores the mature gamer arena, and the creation of the "normal gamer."

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I am a member of a couple of the adult gamer sites and I went there for two reasons: (1) to play with mature people and (2) to play with groups who would communicate USEFUL information online matches. I am over 30 and have a wife, kid, and a full-time job. I think it would benefit developers, publishers, and manufacturers greatly to take my demographic seriously. We are often the hardcore gamer, living in a household with casual gamers, and when it comes to getting out the checkbook to buy products, we are the ones signing our name. I honestly think that we are the pumping in the cash to get these consoles and titles rolling in this generation. We grew up with games, continue to play games, and now that we do not have to beg our parents for arcade quarters, the consumer power to make or break a console or title.

I think I agree with the article, but the author kind of argues a circle around it, so I'm not entirely sure.

Anyone who's spent any time in the public channels of... well, any game, but I'll use World of Warcraft as an example, knows that they're pretty much the pits. Bad grammar, bad spelling, tired attempts at humor, flamewars over nothing in particular, and "server personalities" are par for the course. So naturally, if you don't find Chuck Norris jokes to be the pinnacle of comedy, you try to find a like-minded group so you can enjoy the things you do like (the game, typically) and avoid the things you don't (the game's community, typically).

The trick is that what's considered "normal" inside a community is defined in large part by what its members will tolerate: the official Blizzard boards tolerate anything on-topic, while some of the fan boards are less tolerant of bad grammar, questions that a quick search would easily find the answer to, or rumors presented without proof. And for this to really work, you don't just have an administrator decree this and start wielding the banhammer, you have to get the whole community to buy into this. The sites presented in the article are examples of this: the community as a whole agrees that bad grammar, bad spelling, and leetspeak are not normal, so that if someone uses them they are either stupid or imitating someone who is.

But are these "normal gamers", or are they just groups of avid gamers who happen to be able to type in complete sentences?

More to the point, heavyfeul, the normal gamer is the most likely to have plenty of disposable income.

I think the ability to type in complete sentences is an indication of being able to function in normal society, but I may just be nave in that regard.

I remember playing Quake 2 every single night. I generally played on the same server every night, and I knew the regulars on that server, The guys from [SoH] (South of Heaven) who were generally awesome players, but more importantly were all classy. They were what made me fall in love with multiplayer. Playing games with people who would say "Nice Shot!" instead of "Hax0r!" It's not just the words that people use in Halo that makes me uncomfortable, its the level of maturity that they're displaying. Tea-bagging someones corpse, spawn camping or any other number of things that people do all just turn me off from the game, It's not fun when they make it a competition or try to rub in a victory.

I see an interesting parallel in The Escapist as opposed to say IGN, 1up, or Gamespot or any number of other gaming websites. I think we are all attracted to these boards because people are willing to take the time to write out the word "You".

I don't come to these boards to read about gaming, at least not directly, it's here that I come to talk to other people and argue with people who also like gaming, but have also shown themselves to be intelligent, thoughtful human beings through their words.

While I bemoan the loss of the PDF style, I have since realized that what kept me was not the format the articles came in, but rather their content and the commentary that forms around them. If I ever leave this place it's because like mainstream gaming I won't be able to stand playing Halo with anyone who uses the word "pwn".

I think perhaps that the normal gamer is them, just like the normal person is the type of person I don't like to associate with, I don't see a good reason for gaming to follow a specific cut of the demographic, and I am unsurprised to find just as many idiots playing games as I find idiots in my every day "real" life. It's almost obvious that like in the real world where we congregate with people we can get along with we would do the same in gaming circles.

I'm a member of The Older Gamers (TOG)

The reason I joined was because my ex-flatmate (who's about 7 years my junior) and I were in a clan for RTCW:ET. Unfortunately the clan leader was 13 years old, and me being 29 at the time felt that was just too creepy.

So I joined TOG, and it was great, but I kinda left TOG when I met a girl and had less time to play games.

When I started playing WoW a year ago, I was recruited into a guild, but as I had work deadlines and other stuff, I missed raids, didn't level up and fell behind, and then was unceremoniously dumped when I didn't play for a month, even though I informed them I wouldn't be on.

So I got involved with TOG again, who have accepted me without any question.

And that's what is great about this mature community. There's hundreds of very different people, some with very amazing stories (like the 50 year old Nun who plays from the convent and writes fantasy stories!) and they accept you without much of a fuss and tolerate the issues of "real life", because they've all dealt with them.

I understand the point of view that many of these communities have.

I've been playing video games since I was 4, but now I'm 21. I don't have the tolerance for internet idiocy like I used to have five years ago when Xbox Live first launched.

It's also the reason I completely stopped playing Halo 2 online and don't use my mic when playing games online over Xbox Live anymore and when I do my mic is always muted with the volume on to only a whisper.

There is no such thing as normal but these communities are full of members who simply don't let the anonymity of the internet override their common courtesy and the way they would really act with out the mask of the internet.

ha ha, and in that is the irony: how can gaming be normalized when the mainstream doesn't get it to begin with. Good stuff.

Darkpen:
ha ha, and in that is the irony: how can gaming be normalized when the mainstream doesn't get it to begin with. Good stuff.

I think we need to broaden our definition of mainstream when talking about online gaming. There are people who will simply never play the way we play. They may get a Wii, play some Wii Fit or bowl, but they'll never log on to play Halo variants. And that's fine. They don't have to. But there can be such a thing as a "mainstream gamer." Someone who plays games, but is also a normal human being, perhaps with a job, perhaps not an adolescent or adolescent-like individual. I think that's the kind of normalcy Roger is trying to pinpoint here.

I almost gave up on internet gaming and then I found SeasonedGamers. I had no idea that there were so many people like myself that enjoyed games but didn't constantly speak garbage into a mic or on message boards. I feel that SeasonedGamers and sites like it are a haven for those that put an emphasis on integrity, respect and charity.

@FunkyJ - I have to agree with the "time to write" ideal. I mod a set of forums that are comprised of what I'm sure are sub 15 yo gamers and I only bother writing one word responses to most of their queries or discussion topics because I know they're not going to read further.

I've only been on these particular forums for a day or two but I love the place already. People generally have something to say AND are able to express it in English, proper English.

Recently I acquired a 360 and have been gaming online. Gears of War was the first port of call for multiplayer and as soon as I was killed three times in a row I was getting heckled with "n0000000000b KILL!" being repeated constantly on mic. Didn't matter that was my first experience ever playing GoW online (which is awesome) - really pissed me off. Asking someone on my team for tips resulted in "Don't die so quick". Not very helpful.

A question about Xbox live (from a PC gamer):
Is it possible to turn the voice chat off? I ask because these reports make me wonder why people put up with those things...

sharp_as_a_cork:
A question about Xbox live (from a PC gamer):
Is it possible to turn the voice chat off? I ask because these reports make me wonder why people put up with those things...

You can turn it off entirely, or select specific people to mute. And frankly, if you have a regular group of friends to play with, it's not an issue at all.

Russ Pitts:

You can turn it off entirely, or select specific people to mute. And frankly, if you have a regular group of friends to play with, it's not an issue at all.

This is exactly why I am so involved with Seasoned Gamers.

I like to game but I also have a job and a family to take care of. Belonging to a group like SG really helps insure that I have "quality" people to game with pretty much whenever I want to play.

I am a member of a number of the Mature Gaming Sites mentioned Rogers article. I am also an active member of other forums, some of which display maturity sporadically, and some that barely display it all. You can guess where I spend more of my time (when not gaming). I have to agree with Rogers view of the ironic circle of normalcy in gaming. The article was well written and I think that it really hits the nail right on the head. My friends list consists of almost entirely Mature Gamers (by act, not age), most of which are members of Mature Gaming Communities. I play with them because it offers the experience that I wish when I pay for my XBox Live subscription. We do however venture in the wilds of matchmaking, we do deal with the immature and crude individuals that populate it. But regardless of whether we win or lose, because we are playing with people that are playing the same style of game (sportsmanship) it is still enjoyable. Got to run to a meeting now...

It would have been nice had The Escapist not edited out the fact that I'm a female gamer. I think that fact supports arguments of growing 'normality' surrounding gaming today. Either way, I think Roger's article makes an excellent point about the irony behind behaviors at places like SG and those dark, online dungeons of "angry nuts."

Here's to a world that embraces gaming as a normality, like going to the movies or out to eat. It's normal enough that SG has an entire group of girl gamers, as I'm sure many of the other 'adult gamer communities' do as well. Such a concept is possibly absurd to some.

~Dai

I think what people have said simply about the standards of legible typing and being nicer with voicechat would go down much better then arbitrarily segmenting things on age, creating "normal" groups vs. "abnormal" I guess. There are plenty of young players who are extremely mature, and several older players who are basically not...

Anything that improves online gaming to "normality" levels, which I assume is being more mature (especially in team games) is good. Doesn't matter if they play a lot or are brand new.

...
I'd say it was a topic that needed to be covered, but it's so... obvious that there's not much to say about it.
Maybe it would have been better if it came with one page of quotations from mature people, not associated to video games, but who recognize their value and admit being interested by them.

 

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