by Mike Shea on 21 October 2013
Sometimes it helps to have a motto, a flag, or a set of principles upon which a group can agree. This document is an attempt to define one's core principals for being a gamer. They are a set of ideals to help strengthen our community and bring us together.
Whether we play Dungeons and Dragons, Modern Warfare 3, or Farmville, we are all gamers. This is a central identity for many of us. With this document I hope to bring the best elements of our community into a central light. It would be vain for me to think of this document as truly defining. We each hold our own values in our hearts. No one person would dare to try to define it for everyone. That person ... would be a dick.
Please consider this one person's humble thoughts and opinions on the core ideals of what it means to be a gamer.
Defined and coined by the patron saint of geeks, Wil Wheaton, "Don't be a dick" is the fundamental core of being a good gamer. Be excellent to one another. Gamers help others, we aren't dicks to them. The more we embrace this core idea, the stronger our gaming culture will be. We only teabag those who deserve it.
Gaming is the core activity of a gamer. It doesn't matter what game it is. It doesn't matter how often one games. Gaming and enjoying games is the core we share. It is our love of games and our love of being a gamer that binds us together. It is the one thing that can have two strangers laughing like old friends the minute we discover our shared experiences as gamers.
No one else decides if you are a gamer or not except you. If you say you're one, you are one. If you don't want to be one, you aren't one. The only definition of a gamer that really matters is whether one does or doesn't identify as a gamer. No one can tell you that you aren't one. No one can force you to be one if you don't want to be. Only you can decide if you're a gamer or not and no one can decide it for someone else.
The best gamers are inclusive of other gamers. It doesn't matter which console they like or which version of D&D they prefer, we include all gamers into our club. Instead of narrowly defining our culture, great gamers bring people in. We don't push them away. Gamers seek to identify with other gamers and ignore the narcissism of small differences. Gamers bring people closer, we don't push them away.
Of course, there are dangers in this. The Five Geek Social Fallicies teach us that we can take this too far and begin to include people who are actually destructive to our ideals. We must be aware that sometimes we must ostracize those who would bring destruction to the cause. We must be careful on both sides of this, letting those in who share our goal and leaving those out who would tear it down.
As much as we dream of crowning Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day as the king and queen of our gaming empire, the true strength of our gamer community comes from the fact that no one person or small group defines our society. There is no hierarchy among gamers. We define our own role in our society. We are defined by what we do and who we do it with. No one controls us.
The internet is the conduit of our society. It brings us the strength and power to be defined and recognized by being awesome. No small group decides who can see the results of our effort. We are only limited by our own skills, drives, and efforts.
Gamers do not stand by when others attempt to exclude. Every one of us has been pushed out of some inner circle at one point in our life. We do not retaliate by pushing someone out of ours or watching as someone else does. We seek to bring all into our culture regardless of sex, race, ability, disability, or sexual orientation.
As with the dangers of being inclusive, we must be intolerant of those who breed intolerant. We must not tolerate those who would bring harm to the rest of our tribe. There is a thin line between being too accepting and pushing those out who should be included and many have failed one way or the other.
Accept everyone as they are for what constructive energy they can bring to the whole.
No single corporation holds our society together. Our society spans all social networks whether it be Xbox Live, Steam, Google Plus, or Twitter. Our strongest networks transcend any single platform. We will not be contained within the clutches of corporate greed. The networks we build don't sit on servers, they sit in our hearts.
Only you can decide which of these principals make sense for you. You define what it means to be a gamer and you decide how you fit into the gaming culture. Consider this the rule that invalidates all the others. Each of us decides for ourselves what it means to be a gamer and how we will fit in our society. You have the strength for both good and evil in you. You have the potential for greatness or villainy. Only you can make the choice.