Tag Archives: politics

What’s a gamer?

I don’t have a deep expertise in a lot of fields, but one thing I’m more qualified to comment on than most is gaming. I have been a gamer most of my life.  “Gamer” is one of my most foundational identities, and gamers are a community I keep in touch with.

There seems to be a lot of confusion in media sources about what a gamer is. The impulse seems to be to try to define it as “a person who plays (video) games” and then express bafflement when community members don’t want to include people who play Solitaire on their lunch break.

The problem is that that isn’t and hasn’t ever been the definition of a gamer. Humans have been playing games since there have been humans, but gamers are a fairly recent phenomenon. People who play sports aren’t gamers. Gamblers aren’t gamers (despite regulatory bodies for gambling often being called “gaming commissions.”) Playing monopoly doesn’t make you a gamer.

The best approach, as with almost any identity group, is to start with self-identification. A gamer is someone who self-identifies as a gamer. You can stop there, that’s a complete definition.

But what would lead someone to identify themselves as a gamer? What does gaming mean to gamers?

There could be as many different answers as there are gamers. But if you look closely you’ll find some common themes. I call myself a gamer because I play tabletop roleplaying and strategy games and sophisticated PC games (shooters, strategy games, RPGs, MMOs, just to name a few genres.) I don’t call myself a gamer because I play chess or because I play Tetris on my phone. Magic: The Gathering players call themselves gamers. Poker players do not.

More important than what you play is how important gaming is to you. Do you see it as an important part of who you are as a person? Then you’re in.

As with being a “geek,” a genuine enthusiasm for the hobby is the only requirement.

And that’s really all there is to it.

The Reason for the Season

Since it’s now officially after Christmas, I can post this without being a humbug. I am bothered by people that go around with bumper-stickers, buttons, signs, what have you that say “remember the reason for the season.”

Well, I do remember the reason for the season, and it’s not what they think. The reason for the season is this: Earth wobbles.

The planet is tilted between 21.5 and 24.5 degrees off the plane of its orbit, with the end result that, as the earth moves around the sun, the sun’s relation to the planet’s equator changes. From our earthly perspective, the sun would seem to cross north or south of the equator. When it crosses north, the northern hemisphere gets hotter and the days grow longer there. When it crosses south, the northern hemisphere gets colder and the days grow shorter there.

The shortest day of the year is called “Winter Solstice,” and it ushers in the cold season we temperate-zone types call “Winter.” All evidence suggests that even primitive people were aware of the Solstice, and a lot of them thought it was pretty darned neat.

In fact, the pre-Christian peoples of Northern Europe celebrated the Winter Solstice as “Yule,” a word still used to describe Christmas.

Enter the Catholic Church. Going forth to convert the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe, they found it easier to reinterpret the old feasts than to stop them. They coopted the Winter Solstice Holiday as a celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. (And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a tad odd, mind you, but it seems to work well enough.)

Centuries later, I get people telling me to Remember the Reason for the Season (because they’re too ignorant or misinformed to know what it really is — how ironic,) but the fact is that Jesus Christ, while he surely did live, almost certainly wasn’t born on December 25th, and that Christmas had no existence before Yule was converted, so I submit to you that Yule has been corrupted, first by Christian missionaries and then by corporate interests. But you know what? It’s still a hell of a party. Stop trying to convert me and have some eggnog.

I’ve neglected my blog again. Not that anyone reads this thing.

Anyway, busy week. Apparently Columbia Basin College’s administration, in their infinite wisdom, have come to the conclusion that IT students previously were not getting enough excersise. As a remedy to this, they have stuck us in the most isolated portion of their giantic new building with *no parking access whatsoever*, while leaving the open computer lab in the W Building (which has the only available parking anywhere.)

Nice. But that’s not all folks. Last year I voted not to remodel the Hawk Union Building. The vote passed anyway. There was nothing wrong with the old HUB. Nothing at all. And so, we saddled the *next fifteen years* of students at this two year college with increased tuition to remodel it.

And I’m not impressed. Not even slightly. After all this money we’ve spent, there seems to be very little change and no actual improvement. Then again, I’m all about function, and I don’t get style or fashion, but all that having an updated HUB means is that in fifteen years, another class will vote to remodel the thing again because it’s outdated.


My class load was cut by the unexpected expedient that my fourth class was cancelled. Only three students signed up. Fortunately, I still have fifteen credits, or I would be in some serious trouble with regards to financial aid.

Now that I have money, I will get my window fixed. I think having a car can reasonably be classified as an “educational expense” when school is fifteen miles from where I live and the public transportation system is a joke. Without the window, I’ve started to notice something. People smoke in their cars. A lot of them. With the cigarette hanging out the open window and blowing smoke right back at me. Jackasses. Oh well. It’s not that bad. Nothing says “well ventilated” like a missing window at seventy miles an hour. Whee.