Two year ago today, the world lost a legend of video games, Satoru Iwata. While I was incredibly sad to hear of the passing of a man who helped to shape mine, and millions of children’s childhoods, I was touched by how much the video game community game together to honor a man who followed his passion and lent his genius to so many wonderful games and projects. Fans of his games went all out to honor his memory and show support for one another, coming up with lots of different fan art and even go to the headquarters of Nintendo of America and leaving flowers and memorabilia to honor his memory. This was one of those rare moments where gamers were able to come together as a community and mourn in such a beautiful way, and it was a proud moment for me to say that I am a gamer, and I am part of this community.
When someone hears the term “gamer”, they have certain ideas about what it means. Some people hear the term and picture someone sitting in their basement playing games all day and avoiding the world, or perhaps they think that all “gamers” are either young or immature. The truth though, is so much deeper than that. Gaming has evolved into a major economic market, but more importantly, it is a community. The gaming community has evolved with the use of services such as Youtube, which is a category all to it’s self. Youtube gamers play games competitively, delve into the back story of games, show off cool tips and tricks for games, and even just play through games normally while offering commentary to their viewers. All of these Youtuber’s are gamers, and they all do what they do because they enjoy it, they don’t do it because they have too, or because it’s their job (although some gamers do make money doing it). They play these games, and take the time to create and edit their own videos, simply for the joy of gaming, and for the entertainment of the community. In doing this, these men and women engage the community, they chat with their followers, they make videos that they know people will enjoy, and that is what is so wonderful about it. It’s all because of the shared joy that we as gamers all know.
Far from the stereotypical idea that gamers are reclusive and shut off from the world, we have actually grown to not only play games and make friends with people we would never talk too otherwise, we have actually evolved to the point that we can give back to the world at large. Every year all kinds of people who have only ever met online, come together in person and spend hours and even days on end playing games together, laughing and sharing stories and games, all in front of a camera so people all over the world can watch. To your average person, this may seem like a giant waste of time, doesn’t that just enforce the stereotypes that gamers are immature and lazy? Far from it. Organizations such as Extra Life and Games Done Quick bring these gamers together and let them do what they do best, play video games! While these gamers sit in front of that camera together and play games, people all over the world can watch, and donate money to the organization. By doing this, these two groups and lots more gather money for all kinds of charities including The Children’s Miracle Network, Doctors Without Borders, St. Jude’s Childrens Research, and so many more.
At the end of the day, being a gamer doesn’t make you some weirdo or oddball. It doesn’t change who you are, and it doesn’t make you any better or any worse than anyone else. You are nothing more than a person who has found something they love to do. In this world we live in, things are not easy, there isn’t always a simple puzzle to solve to move on to the next area, and you definitely can’t fight through tough obstacles, but with all the hatred and violence in the world, sometimes a person needs something to look forward too. A hobby to help them cope with the difficulties we all face. And if you’re lucky enough to have your own community of friends, either online or in person who you can enjoy being a gamer with, then that’s something to be proud of. At the end of the day, after work is done, and life has done it’s worst…. Then, it’s game time.