Gamer taxonomy.

I’m at a talk that Gonzalo Frasca just gave on game rhetoric and the role of performance. (Takeaway phrase: “haptic semiotics.” Another take on the embodiment/”chaism”/activity theory/Heideggerian turn in new media and HCI theory, but a happy phrase nonetheless.) But it has prompted a backchannel discussion on hardcore gamers, gamer identity, etc.

The contradictory elements of this discourse are worth observing. Many gamers I have met and spoken with have long expressed the hope that videogaming be recognized as a mainstream practice. Now that it is, of course, they seek to distinguish their own mode of reception from those of the new demographics, who bring their own needs, expectations, and constraints to the constellation of mediating, representing, and activity-structuring elements from videogames. In many ways, it is the casual gamers which will broaden the expressive and rhetorical range of game design, rather than the traditional players.

I wonder how long the anxiety of being a “true gamer” will last; at one time, literacy was exceptional, rare, unusual. The ability to read and write identified one as a member of an elite. There is no longer a demographic or caste of “readers.” And the best of written material created for a widely literate public (i.e., the novel) would have been impossible to create if literacy had been constrained to a class of elite scribes.

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