A Profile On Gamers And The Video Gaming Community

Gamers come in many different shapes and styles nowadays. In the early days of gaming most of us were stereotyped as introverted, basement dwelling, glasses-wearing weirdoes who were terrified of the outside world. Nowadays, with the success of gaming franchise, the influx of technology and the extensive use of online gaming communities the term gamer can apply to nearly anyone.

I happened to catch up with three employees at Allegheny Country Club in Sewickley, PA and asked them about their gaming styles and preferences. While they all share the similarity of being gamers their personalities and opinions of video games differed greatly.

Josh Hays, a pantry chef at ACC, first got into gaming while he was in college at West Virginia University. He enjoys first-person shooters (FPS) more than other gaming genres and favors playing online against other players rather than a single player game. “I don’t like playing by myself. I want to compare my skills to everyone else and adjust accordingly,” said Hays, “Nothing is better than being on the top (of the leaderboards).”

Coming into the video game world later in his life likely contributed towards Hays’ opinion of video games as a means of competition. Playing in college against friends, there is always a sense of friendly competition. In FPS games the whole premise is about being numero uno. The Call of Duty franchise is Hays’ all-time favorite, “They change it (from game to game) ever so slightly to keep you interested,” he said.

He admits that he loses interest in games where you cannot compete against another person. He actually laughs at the idea of comparing yourself (as a gamer) to a computer rather than a fellow person. He believes that it is in a gamer’s best interest to compete against someone else; to him playing against a computer doesn’t test your skills as a gamer.

Whereas, Rodrick Reese, a server, and Josh Kruenchy, a steward, both prefer single-player, role-playing game (RPG) styled games.

“You can be whoever you want to be and that’s cool,” said Reese, “It is a whole different world.”

Both him and Josh prefer RPG games largely in part to the challenges they present and the escape to a new world offered only in the fictional reality of RPG gaming. Interestingly, enough both of them started playing video games when they were younger, in their elementary school years.

Before the success of online gaming majority of successful games were single player RPGs. Franchises like Final Fantasy (a favorite for both Reese and Kruenchy) and Legend of Zelda were focused on intricate storylines that forced the gamer to solve puzzles, quests, and demanding boss battles in order to beat the game. Often times, the games would provide such intense challenges that gamers became infatuated with the game itself because of the difficulty it provided.

“You can be whoever you want to be and that’s cool,” said Reese, “It is a whole different world.”

As Kruenchy, points out he loves games that offer him a challenge. The harder the challenge the more he enjoys the game. He sees FPS games like Call of Duty as “take em or leave em” type games.

“I’ll never see games like Hays’ competitive side towards gaming. It (gaming) isn’t competitive to me,” he said.

Instead, he refers to games as an “escape.” They offer him an exit to reality and a release from the stress of his day-to-day routine.

Despite being an avid RPG fan and FPS nay-sayer, Kruenchy does still play online rather often. He loves playing Final Fantasy XI, a massively multiplayer online (MMO) RPG.

“The team dynamic and team gameplay is what I love about it,” he says. He enjoys the tactical dimension to games that MMORPG’s like Final Fantasy XI bring. He finds it exhilarating to have to plan, organize, and strategize for days with fellow gamers from across the globe for certain missions or boss battles. To him, that sense of teamwork and gaming camaraderie is what keeps him hooked and coming back for more.

Both Reese and Hays’ agree with his reasoning to play video games as a sort of stress reliever. Yet, they still have two very different approaches towards gaming.

While, Reese enjoys the same RPG style games he prefers playing offline, by himself. He doesn’t mind playing online MMORPGs with others, but he admits that it can be bothersome to have to rely on other gamers especially if they are less talented. More often than not, he would rather play solo because he is aware of his own skill set and the goals he wishes to accomplish in his particular game of choice.

Meanwhile, Hays’ continues to see games as a virtual proving ground, an escape to an artificial battleground to test your skills as a gamer. He admits that he likely fancies FPS and online gaming more than the other two (Reese & Kruenchy) largely because he got into gaming later in his life. Hanging in a dorm, playing Madden or C.O.D. against friends became a regular routine. He developed a gaming routine where success focused on dominating your opponents rather than completing a storyline.

All three of them have different gaming habits yet they all share the same passion. Despite his jest towards Reese and Kruenchy’s admiration for Final Fantasy games Hays’ is the first to admit it is their passion for video games that brings them together. It is their common bond.

Each one has a distinctively different personality than the other, but at any given moment those differences in philosophies vanish to talk shop over upcoming games and breakthroughs in the industry. The trio is proof that gamers have certainly come a long way from that agoraphobic stereotype they started off with.

Video game fans and active gamers are more common nowadays than they were a decade ago. It is still unique to see the difference between generations especially as evident as it is between Hays, Reese, and Kruenchy. The latter two share in enjoyment of old school RPGs because that was the popular genre at the time they began to get into video gaming.

Whereas, Hays, began exploring the video gaming world during the Xbox and PS3 era where online gaming exploded onto the scene. Before then, gamers could only play games via one console and one T.V. screen. They didn’t have the luxury of logging on and suddenly being able to play with friends from other neighborhoods without ever having to leave the comfort of their own living rooms.

It is an evolution in the gaming industry that not only helped change gaming, but also the gaming culture. With the ability of thousands of gamers from across the globe being able to play against each other without ever leaving their homes, it suddenly made gaming – common.

The gaming community began having less and less gamers like Reese and Kruenchy who braved the grueling RPG worlds and more gamers like Hays who could quickly sign on and receive immediate satisfaction for besting fellow competitors and landing themselves atop the daily leaderboards.

It is amazing to see the evolution of gaming, but it is even more astounding to see how far the gaming culture extends. As evidence of these three, gaming is as common place in today’s culture as sports or pop culture is.




One thought on “A Profile On Gamers And The Video Gaming Community

  1. Pingback: Video Game Culture: The Subcultures | The Nerd In The Burgh

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