The new issue of PSM3 is on sale now.
When my imagination idles, it idles solely in Skyrim. When I worry, I worry about my K/D ratio. When I reminisce, it's usually about Half-Life. Yet I don't consider myself a 'gamer'. Why? Because as soon as I dip below the surface of the net, the collective indignant bawl of a legion of self-defined 'gamers' makes me nauseous.
There's a rolling ball of 'gamer' culture that thunders through countless websites and forums that, from the outside looking in, divorces the people caught up in it from the fundamentals of their everyday lives. Entirely. Dogs, girlfriends, wives, children, schools, friends, jobs... all lopped away from online personalities until all that remains is a capitalised, screaming hatred for the latest hate-figure: Call of Duty, the other console, some idiot politician.
This is inevitable, the nature of the net, but it's also where 'gamer' begins to ferment. It stops being a description of people who play videogames after a hard day at work, and becomes an unrefined blend of anger and fanaticism.
Forum posters start to define themselves as 'gamers' in the same way others define themselves in sexuality, race or religion. What's more - just as with the Republican Tea Party in US politics - the loudest, most extreme opinions are the most dominant almost regardless of sense, as the saner majority simply stay away from the screaming match rather than wade in with soon-to-be-steamrollered rational debate.
The 'gamer' has become just what the ignorant, progress-fearing outsider thought they were all along - a 2D character sketched on virtual paper and seemingly unaware of the three dimensional world outside.
News sites even start to feed the 'gamer' information skewed through this strangely warped lens: a 'gamer' murder in Florida over a PS3, the 'gamer' take on the Japanese earthquake, what 'gamers' need to know about the Anders Breivik massacre - after all, he used to play World of Warcraft, don't you know?
Could you imagine meeting someone in a pub and them introducing themselves, with a knowing smile, as a 'reader'? And on book websites, can you see those 'readers' gnashing, wailing and screaming 'corruption!' when their favourite author gets a bad review?