148: Quibus Lusoribus Bono?

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I don't know whether the tone of "Quibus lusoribus bono?" has gained me any traction (I accept that it may actually have lost me traction) over this problem, but in case anyone is still reading this thread I thought it might be good to bring up the "Yahtzee and Nintendo" contre-temps. Douglas Wilson would of course claim this mess as proof of his thesis. I think it's incredibly important not to do that. Fanboi does not equal gamer.

So what role could game studies possibly have to play here?

Talk about it. Don't say, "That's what gamers are like. Do you really want to be a gamer? Wouldn't you rather be something else?"

Those fanbois who are also part of the set Gamers need to be talked to in a way other than Yahtzee talks to them. I don't have a problem with Yahtzee, but there should be more. There should be training in civil intellectual discourse. Heck, there should be intellectual discourse about Super Smash Brothers that makes a real effort to engage the game at the level where gamers engage it. I'm not a fighting-game aficionado myself, but to make an analogy to a genre I know well, I really believe game studies scholars should be doing things like posting real critical discourse about the shortcomings of "Two Worlds" as against those of "Oblivion," rather than leaving it to the flamers who only reinforce the gamer=fanboi equation.

Sure, a scholar might come out some time next year with a scholarly article about their rhetorical strategies, but while I know that that's a scholar's job, given that we have a living, breathing art form here, I really believe that the privilege of studying games confers an ethical obligation to help raise the real-world discussion of them to new heights.

EDIT: I neglected to say in the above that I think there are scholars and thoughtful enthusiasts doing just that. The most prominent, and deservedly so, is Michael Abbott, the Brainy Gamer (he's already been brought up in this thread, along with the equally deserving Leigh Alexander). It's my hope that there can be more and more of that. Whether my piece contributed anything to that movement is a matter about which I think reasonable people can disagree.

A clumsy straw man argument published as "provocation", supposedly designed to stimulate discussion - but where's the further discussion? How are people who aren't already familiar with game studies supposed to know the counter-arguments and see this as a straw man in the first place? This *may* have been worthwhile if there were a counterpoint article in the same issue, but as it stands all you've done is taken a great opportunity to make more gamers aware of the positive side of game studies and thrown it away for the sake of grabbing attention.

Most readers of your article are not going to have followed through to these comments and found Ian Bogost's response. Most of them are probably not following Greg Costikyan's blogs to find his response, either. All they see is someone - an academic himself, no less - telling them that game studies hates them.

Let academics be academics, wrapped up in their own little bubble world of self importance & pedantic arguement that has no bearing on reality outside their college campus. Its what lets them justify their paycheque

This first response, given in full agreement with your article, should be enough to prove that there's a problem with your approach.

In my piece I'm trying to get gamers to pay attention to the split, and start asking for the kind of criticism of the games they love that will help them understand the games and themselves better.

a) I totally don't see that in game studies - the most common examples I see studied are in fact the best-sellers, the pop culture of games. A few of them tend to get overused (The Sims, Lara Croft / Tomb Raider) but they certainly aren't obscure. WarioWare, Metal Gear Solid, classics like Tetris ... remind me where the split is again?

b) I totally did not see that point made in your article at all. If you had actually come out and *said* as much, instead of railing against a fictional anti-gamer-game-studies acadamia, it probably would've made things a lot more coherent.

I think I've made clear that I wouldn't fault anyone for seeing the piece as inadequate to the task it undertakes.

What I won't stipulate is that another approach, given the shape of game studies, and the field's development, would necessarily have worked better. The idea of a "missed opportunity" seems to be coming up a lot. As I see it, the opportunity will only be missed if we (and obviously I'm including myself) go away unchanged from the discussion.

Perhaps there aren't a lot of Wilson's "gamers" reading this. But I think there are some game studies people, and I imagine many more game studies people are reading Ian's blog. Getting gamers to see that what scholars do actually does have a bearing on the games they play and their experience of them is mostly the scholars' job, I think.

Yes, popular games get discussed in game studies scholarship. But I don't think they don't get discussed in a way ("the kind of criticism") that helps gamers understand them, or (most importantly for what I see as the need to combat attitudes like Douglas Wilson's) in a way that builds a critical community that might be compared to the culture of the cineast with respect to film. As I said in my edit above, there are people doing the kind of criticism I think we need. But (and I may well be incompletely informed here) I haven't seen game studies people engaging in it.

I guess I'm just not sure what you're looking for. I like Michael Abbott and Leigh Alexander too. But I also like Doug Wilson's work. Did you read his latest piece about Super Mario Galaxy? Or his other pieces on the public websites?

And given your invocation of an "ethical obligation to help raise the real-world, gamer-culture-level discussion of them to new heights," can you explain your criticisms of at least Henry Jenkins, and myself, who regularly write criticism and opinion in the trade and mass media? I write one a month for Gamasutra; one was published since this whole fiasco started, in fact. In hindsight, you may not like that you lumped us all in one fallacious attack, but you did literally ask for reprisal as well. Is it wrong of me to ask you to admit that you got it wrong?

As for Janet Murray, Espen Aarseth, and Jesper Juul they may not write popular pieces as often but their work is very influential and helps elevate the general status of the medium among all readers. Espen's work to get the journal Game Studies online and free are important here too. I disagree with a lot of _Hamlet on the Holodeck_, but really, "gamer-hating game studies criticism?" Really? Not all academics need to contribute to the medium's reception in the same way in order to make a valid contribution.

You claim another approach wouldn't have worked better. How about this: an article of the kind you wrongly claim people like Henry and I don't write but that you didn't either. One that starts out with a civil, reasoned objection to Wilson's piece and uses it as a lead-in for an article on, well, any game you like.

See Ian's blog for my reply to his post above.

As I note there, I won't be able to make substantive replies for the next few days because of semester-end stuff.

Thanks to all for the discussion!

i have to say that either the author of this article didnt read the other article to the fullest, or he misunderstood its context, deliberately or not. douglas wilson actually pointed out that this would be the sort of retribution gamers would put up, and on that point i agree with him; the gamer scene is immature. there are alot of clowns out there who are willing to rally people in the name of gaming to retribute on anything giving it a bad name the slightest.

we saw the same thing in the crusades a thousand years ago. we saw the same thing in the 17th century when people burned witches, and we see the same thing going on now. people uniting against a hypothetical common enemy that does not exist. history repeats itself.

I just wanna say real quick, as a gamer and as someone slightly into the indie scene of games, I can see very much why anyone would despise the stereotypical gamer. I don't have any problems with frivolous, summer blockbuster stylized games, and I don't have a problem with overly masculized games that are all about the 'blood n' titties,' as someone said.

But, for the most part, your stereotypical gamer is boosting these titles above everything else. Your stereotypical gamer is the kind of person who sees a game like Animal Crossing or even, say, Passage, and says, "That's retarded and if people think games like this should be made they should go get shot."

So if you're anyone who's even slightly interested in seeing games progress as an art form, maybe just progress as an art form so they can be exponentially more entertaining, why wouldn't you hate that stereotypical gamer?

I don't want to presume anything, but I'd take a wild guess that's what gaming academia, as you say, hates. Not gamers in general, but that large core of gamers that fits those stereotypes so perfectly and won't stop holding the whole damn affair back.

This article is whitewashing everyone who does game studies as if they were dying to make games. That simply isn't the case. I study videogame players and I have no real desire to make games any more than my friends who study films really want to make films. Yes there is a contingent within game studies that is all about designing games but they aren't representative of everyone who studies games.
I also don't think that games studies will ever be a separate field. It is inherently multidisciplinary. I have said that my research is much more about the players and the fact that they play games is in some ways secondary (a bit of an overstatement). I've got friends that study a lot of things related to games and none of them want to make games.

theklng and PFlute, the problem I see is that Wilson didn't direct his essay at "the stereotypical gamer"; rather he directed it at "gamers." My central point is that his failure to make the distinction you both make actually stems from the nature of his discipline, game studies.

JC, the extent to which game studies manages to be interdisciplinary is the extent to which I think it will take up the task I suggest it should take up. I also think that that's the same extent to which it can make itself be about game-players, rather than about the things it (game studies) values in game-design. To put my claim as unprovocatively as I can (though I'm not going to stop maintaining that I needed to do it provocatively in order to start the discussion), I'm contending that as it's practiced, game studies criticism, even when it's studying players' experiences, privileges its judgments about design over the experiences of gamers and how those experiences shape their culture.

Two examples Ian cited in the comments over at his blog seem to me to crystallize our difference of critical opinion very nicely: Wilson's recent piece on Super Mario Galaxy and Ian's own recent piece on "Texture." To me, both of those pieces are about design. Wilson talks about judgments on what storytelling in games should or shouldn't do. Ian talks about how the design of texture has evolved over the history of games. As I said in my own response, I like that kind of criticism, but I think that it's become the center of game studies just as Aarseth specified it should be. Ian compared it to discussions of Greek meter in the study of Homer, and I think the comparison is a good one. If discussions of meter were the center of Homeric scholarship, I'd be writing provocations of my fellow classicists.

Undoubtedly, they'd be just as pissed at me as the games studies folks are at me now.

It's becoming difficult to keep up with all the locations where this discussion is taking place. Since this bit (comment 44) seems to be here and not elsewhere, I'll add a quick reply:

- The two examples by Wilson and myself were two among many
- Work like that of Wilson and myself considers design as a part of representation and use. The Homer example was meant as a parallel. Work motivated purely by scansion or philology is perverse; if you want to look for the equivalent in game studies, you're looking at the wrong scholars.
- In any case, those articles as examples were published in an industry trade context, not a mass-market or journalistic one, so expectations need to be considered. It was my initial impression that your accusations were about place and purpose rather than method.
- I'm fine with the idea of carving out a new and unique style of game studies. There are many approaches. I just don't yet fully understand the one you want to support, so it's hard for me to know if I think I do it or not. This is really what's most frustrating to me. It seems like there's probably an interesting set of claims in your head but most of what's laid out here is just vituperation, not provocation.

ibogost:
It's becoming difficult to keep up with all the locations where this discussion is taking place.

Says the one who put a shameless plug to his blog to start the dicussion "over there".

Arbre:
Says the one who put a shameless plug to his blog to start the dicussion "over there".

Well, there's also a thread on Kotaku now, and a couple other places. But you might consider that its possible to post a modest link as well as a shameless one. Anyhow, I'm not feeling particularly flagrant in regard to this subject.

Mr. Travis, I play quite a lot of video games. I own a PS2, PS3, Wii, and a Nintendo DS. I buy about one game a month, and sometimes as many as three a month. Why am I telling you all this? It's because I want to go back to a point you made at the beginning of your paper.

Douglas:
I can't stand gamers. No, that's not quite true. I can't stand the concept of gamers.

Roger Travis:
Should we care if Douglas Wilson, a doctoral candidate in game studies, hates us?

What? I don't think Douglas meant that he hated gamers, what he said is that he dislikes the concept of gamers. Something I agree with him on 100%.

Roger Travis:
If that were the case, gamers - including academics like me who study games but remain firmly outside the "game studies" camp - could just say, "Well, Douglas, we hate you too.

In my opinion, this statement means that from the start you have lost. I explained all about my playing habits so I can now say, despite all of my habits, I strongly dislike the term 'gamer.' I hate being called a gamer. Not because I think that it necessarily degrades me in any way, but because it means that there is also a term called 'non-gamer.' The biggest problem I see facing the integration and acceptance of video games is this ideological distinction between those who are gamers and those who are not. It implies that 'we' either have to convert those non-gamers, or defeat them.

But who is a gamer? It it an amount of time spent playing video games? There are a number of parents who play a substantial amount of video games in order to be closer to their children, but I doubt that if confronted they would consider themselves gamers. Some people try and straddle the fence by using the term 'casual gamer' as a sort of catch-all for the people in between. But doing this doesn't help the current situation. As for your comment that "scholars are pursuing game studies to the detriment of gamer culture", I wholeheartedly disagree. People like Ian Bogost have done an amazing job at trying to break down this distinction between a gamer and a non-gamer. It is by declaring that gamers must rise up that this cultural divide is strengthened. 'Gamers' must learn to stop considering themselves as different just as 'non-gamers' must realize the same.

Video games are not made for gamers, and they are not made for non-gamers, they are made for people. People choose to play games just as they choose to watch a movie or read a book. Some people prefer to play Monopoly, others like online poker, still others Halo. To consider some of these people gamers and others non-gamers is a mistake. They are people, nothing more and nothing less.

Gamer is as pejorative as bookworm, otaku or else?
Is there a call for a term which would be the equivalent of cinephile?

I think a gamer is someone who places gaming as one of his/her main leisure activities, who doesn't wait a whole week or more to play a game. It's more than a passing, punctual curiosity.
Then there are various flavours of gamers, those with a taste for diversity, those who know some stuff about the history of video gaming, those who work in the industry and look at the content of a game differently, those who just play to chill out, etc.

Now, why people are so annoyed by such insignificant labels... just let them be.
I mean, whatever... does it really matter?

Just a quick post to say I'll be responding to Ian tomorrow.

Arbre, I think it's actually really important what "gamer" means, because gamers as a group find a meaning in it--in fact, multiple meanings, just as you said. As I wrote about in "Creating the Normal Gamer," it's a term that's become very rich both positively and negatively, and which has what I see as a great deal of potential for constructive community building, in part because of the negative characteristics sometimes associated with it. There are a lot of game-players who think of themselves as gamers; I would like it if academics could find a way to talk to them about being gamers without saying they should stop being gamers.

Those who can, do; those who can't, go to graduate school.

Up above, Ian asked what my claims actually are. Apologies for the extreme length of this post. I think that length itself, and the complexity of this post, make a bit clearer the difficulties I had in writing the original piece-that's not an excuse, of course, but perhaps it's an elucidation.

The piece itself made the claim (and really only this one) that the way game studies has been constructed with design at the center (and I understand that Ian disputes that premise, but I think it's telling that it was Ian who cited, and asked me about, the two pieces I used as examples above) makes it difficult for work in game studies, the closest thing to a "civilized face" gaming has, to help improve gamers' standing, culture, and even manners. The piece wasn't intended to propose an alternative, in large part because I didn't have space to do so.

On the other hand, I'm really happy to discuss what the alternative might be.

So it's out of the way, let me first engage in an intentionally transparent piece of praetirition: modesty forbids me to mention my own game-criticism in this context. It's not to be found in game studies journals, obviously--you can find it in The Escapist and at my blog.

Now, because Ian rightly calls attention to his admirable work, I want to look at a passage from the preface of Ian's Persuasive Games.

Among computer software, I want to suggest that videogames have a unique persuasive power. . . . In addition to becoming instrumental tools for institutional goals, videogames can also disrupt and change fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world, leading to potentially significant long-term social change. I believe that this power is not equivalent to the content of videogames, as the serious games community claims. Rather, this power lies in the very way videogames mount claims through procedural rhetorics. Thus, all kinds of videogames, from mass-market commerical products to obscure art objects, possess the power to mount equally meaningful expression. (ix)

I think Ian absolutely nails it here, and throughout the book. I'm not a huge fan of the way he uses the word "procedural," because I don't believe that the line between content and structure is as bright as I think Ian thinks it is, but the idea of reading games rhetorically is in my opinion an enormous step forward.

I submit, though, that this approach privileges games' "persuasive power " and "meaningful expression." over the actual attitudes of gamer culture on the ground. That is, Ian's book is about what games can say, and how they can change minds through the things they say. What Persuasive Games is not about, then--what I submit it cannot be about--, is the way game-players' actual experiences of video games work.

That's because when you talk about the affordances and powers of something, whether it's video games or ancient epic, you're always talking about the thing's relation to an ideal construction of its audience. If I were to say that I was going to talk about how the Iliad had the power to change the attitudes of ancient Greeks, I wouldn't be able to talk about how actual ancient Greeks might have reacted to the more contentious things the Iliad says. I couldn't, for example, read the ninth book of the Iliad as a reaction to the eleventh book of the Odyssey.

Here's a great example, from a really enlightening part of Persuasive Games:

The dietary features of San Andreas are rudimentary, but the fact that the player must feed his character to continue playing does draw attention to the limited material conditions the game provides for satisfying that need, sutly exposing the fact that the problems of obesity and malnutrition in poor communities can partly be attributed to the relative ease and affordability of fast food. (114)

You'll think I'm being sarcastic, maybe, but I'm not: I stand in awe of the above piece of criticism. We need this kind of criticism very badly.

I want to suggest, though, that by doing this kind of criticism, game studies organizes itself around what games can do: they can, for example, draw attention to the economic structure of the problem of obesity. This would be like me arguing that Iliad 9 exposes the problem of the warrior ethic. That would be fine, too-and it's the kind of thing classicists do quite a bit of. It's also, I submit, related fundamentally to the organizing principle that Aarseth called "design," and would in classics be called something like "poetics." Both points stem from an insight into the way the work functions in relation to the culture it takes for granted (ideology is a very good word for that).

In this respect, though, classicists are lucky, because their gamers are long dead. They don't have to worry about what the Homeric bards' audience is up to on the internet. Classicists can imagine that the warriors and shepherds and goatherds and servants listening to the bard were all susceptible to the charms of having the problem of the warrior ethic exposed to them.

If gamers are anything to go by, though, they weren't susceptible to those charms. (That doesn't mean I don't think they get the subtle message Ian is talking about; I think they do get it on an ideological level. Again, I'm saying that organizing criticism around that level has adverse effects on the relation between game studies and gamer culture.) To complete the picture of what's going on in the Iliad and to complete the picture of what's going on in San Andreas I want to suggest we need to do something else, something that actually cuts against the kind of criticism Ian does in the passage above. We need to do it, as I said, because gamers, unlike ancient Greeks, are alive, and playing games.

What is that something, then? I'm darned if I know what to call it, but it's very awkward to talk about things that don't have names, so I'll call it "gamer studies" for the moment. Since this post is already obscenely long, let me just quickly say what I think gamer studies might have to say about the eating system in San Andreas: instead of discussing the design-affordances of the food system--the way it can (and so does) expose the limited material conditions of poor communities--a gamer studies approach might privilege the the way the experience of the player in interacting with the food system creates multiple narratives about how people relate to food, which in turn allow the player to experience an identification with CJ through which he or she experiences a new kind of heroism: a kind absolutely particular to him or her. The food is obviously only a small part, but (because everybody eats pretty frequently) a really signficant one.

I think the basic difference between the game studies approach and what I imagine as the gamer studies approach is that while the game studies approach assumes a player who goes along with the game's design, the gamer studies approach addresses a player who participates in the game.

There's a book here, maybe. I'm sorry that even in this absurdly long post I haven't managed to lay it all out, but I hope I get to write the book, or blog it, eventually. Thanks for reading (if you're still reading :D).

EDIT: In looking back over this post, I think I took a wrong turn in naming the approach I suggested "gamer studies." To do so suggests that I want to create another new discipline. If I had a chance to rewrite it, I'd refuse to give it that kind of name, and would instead say that, perversely enough, the approach should be called classics, or comparative literature, since those are my fields.

granom:
Those who can, do; those who can't, go to graduate school.

I'm afraid I'm not very pleased with the implied message here, but instead of venting off, I'll just ask you to kindly reformulate your opinion, just to be certain about what you really meant.
Please.

In this respect, though, classicists are lucky, because their gamers are long dead. They don't have to worry about what the Homeric bards' audience is up to on the internet. Classicists can imagine that the warriors and shepherds and goatherds and servants listening to the bard were all susceptible to the charms of having the problem of the warrior ethic exposed to them.

If gamers were anything to go by, though, they weren't susceptible to those charms. ...

So you're saying that since the bard's audience is dead, studying it impossible, but we can make guesses about how they perceived the work of art they were presented every once in a while, or as often as a bard was in town to chant?

So, since people are still people, wouldn't these ancient humble guys rather do nothing, idle, drink alcohols, walk outside, play whatever small communitary "sport" they had then, have sex, talk about all and nothing, and listen to the bard with half an ear, at best?

If not, then we could wonder if the reason why they'd go listen to the bard would be because there was nothing else to do, as maybe there would have been such a wide abyss of available activities, and a wide gap between hard labour and the leisure of listening to these tales, where they'd be literaly hopping from an extreme to another.
Basically, "By Zeus, I'm already bored to death. Better listen to the bard than nothing. At least this is different."

Are we even sure they'd really bother?
Well I know nothing about ancient habits, the hobbies of each segment of the population within such societies, so that's a load of trouble for someone else. :)

That said, what about the percentages?
That is, Bard's audience vs. average Phaistos?
It's very possible that the audience would represent a small quantity out of the greater whole.
These days, with news everywhere, intruding your pockets as long as you have a cellphone, and the likes of wikipedia, which for all their flaws, offer accessible information, the number of people in the know grows. Chances that people nowadays are, willingly or not, more aware and cultivated than ever.
Besides, education is available to everybody, so I think it puts us on a better hill.

Eventually, we can still look at the audiences for books, films, music.
These media also have their loads of "shovelware", but they have much more than this to balance it out. The top magnitude spots represent really respected and renowed works of art.

Have video games anything like that?
Not much. Well, besides edugames, policogames, etc. and those where there's more about peotry than action (Ico Team, Amen).

I think we just have to ignore what people outside say. Let have the industry move on, explore new domains, let's have various forms of studies if you want, all the better, and we'll see what video games are about in two or three decades from now.

I think we're giving too much attention to people who can't catch the train, and thus prefer to shoot at it instead, because they really want to do something about it and that's all they're left with.

I'm sorry, I'm not even sure this article was needed at all. Too much concerns over issues which are not issues.

Arbre, do you mean to say, as you seem to me to be saying, that we should just give up on reaching the gamers who still want to call themselves "gamers"?

When I have time to read all the responses I will. But for now, I start with this: I am a fine artist, and if you think there is no theory in art, you are wrong.

"I don't like the idea of having to study games to make games, if everyone followed this it would be a huge stifle on originality as you would always be looking at what was proven in the past for the future, there is no science to games, they like all forms of art are subjective, I ask those same academics to define aesthetics, they can't as it's philosophy and not science."

Have you seen art that that artist did not do research before it's creation? You find that the artists usually does something that has already been done before. Theory of all types is important, any subject should have a working theory, It is naive to say talent should come from some magical place. There should logically be certain things that tie good games together. (good in the artistic and social value sense.)

That is not to say it is for every one. If you do not like theory than ignore it. You do not need to be a masters' degree holder in film studies to critique a film, nor do you need a degree in literature to enjoy, and analyze a book, but saying that it is pointless is just as stupid as them 'discrediting' gamers.

Bottom line is this: You do not have to know the history of any thing you do, but if you truly have a passion for something, any bit of information that could improve the you in the pursuit of the passion should, at the very least, be considered.

Besides that I think the comments were better than the article. The writer seemed to have no point. Basically he said, "do not tell me what to do", which is.... telling some one what to do.

Literature begat Literature courses, but these weren't particularly about how to write it. Film and Theatre begat more distinct offspring, with [insert media] Studies courses, and the drama college/film school approach of learn Why by doing How. There are, to my knowledge, NO degrees in how to be a theatre critic, etc.

Games courses have one clear difference, in that there is a specific and often separate culture, a Game Culture (capitals deliberate), to address as well, due to the relatively recent arrival of the medium. My own approach - while in the context of teaching programmers how to work with artists by getting them to actually MAKE games - has been more anthropological. How ANYONE could profess to study Games, by starting with the phrase "I hate Gamers", etc, seems completely deluded. Whether or not you agree with the article, or if you think it is more hack than craft, or even straw man in its intent, it all comes back to that one statement.

Here is my take: Making games in a under recognised way, going all the way back to Constructionism and the time honoured Vygotsky's Theoryof Activity, is a wonderful mechanism for learning about Learning. The community and environment are critical, and this definitely includes Gamers.

Dr. Mike Reddy, University of Wales, Newport

Oh, that's clever. With all these terms, now I have to browse the wretched wikipedia. :D

TinPeregrinus:
Arbre, do you mean to say, as you seem to me to be saying, that we should just give up on reaching the gamers who still want to call themselves "gamers"?

I don't know. I didn't even realize we had lost contact with them, to be frank. :)

You mean, you want to open the eyes of some gamers and tell them not be ashamed by being gamers?

I think globally, it all boils down to this:

1. Is he/she a gamer*? Y/N

2. Is he/she OK with the idea of labelling him/herself as a gamer*? Y/N

3. Is he/she curious about video game lore (culture, history, different genres, etc.)? Y/N

*(See my quick view on the meaning of the term.)

I'm not even sure there's much to do about gamers who either don't care about being called gamers, or gamers who don't care much about video game lore besides "gnuh, me buya next PES man, 'nuff said, urf".
I'm not saying PES sucks, but there are players who don't vary their experiences much.

Forgive me if my questions are off-base, but I've spent nearly a week trying to decypher this article and discussion...

Why should the term "gamer" be considered perjorative?

Why is it at all desirable to anyone that "gamer" culture be blended into mainstream culture, when the trend in modern Western cultures is to become more cosmopolitan and less monolithic?

Why does it appear to me that all sides of this debate assume that the gaming community is homogenous?

What's the point of studying a field of art or other human endevour but excluding design and technique from that study?

Why is this at all of any concern outside the small circle of academics flailing at each other over what seems (from my extern's view) to be Bigendian/Littleendian issues?

Sorry to seem curmudgeonly about this, but I see much heat and little light.

-- Steve

Branding BioShock a "work of art" kind of invalidates the entire argument from the bottom floor, doesn't it?

Edit: I guess I'm asking, what makes BioShock a work of art? Are we talking about gameplay, or are you actually asserting that BioShock is "artistically" on par with classically accepted artistic masterpieces like, say, The Godfather?

That is true but only if you assume that these exceptional filmmakers would not have made exceptional works if they hadn't gone through "rigorous film theory programs". Many other filmmakers are not graduates/participants of these rigorous programs but are just pundits and fans of the medium, just as many game designers can be initially only game-lovers.

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